Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil. Touted as a memory enhancer. What does the research show? How can we harness it? What about safety?

There are 4 chemotypes of Rosemary essential oil, the two studies I am about to talk about cover the one you are likely to see most often, Rosemary 1,8-cineole. The findings are pretty exciting!

Both studies were performed by Mark Moss PhD.

I will briefly cover the methods and findings, and provide you the references to dive further if you choose to do so.

In the first study, 20 healthy volunteers sat in cubicles with diffused Rosemary essential oil while being asked to complete serial subtraction and visual information processing tasks. Blood samples were then taken. Moss found that cognitive abilities increased and the blood plasma levels of 1,8 cineole increased. An exciting discovery (see abstract below) (1).


A second experiment performed by Moss entailed 60 volunteers, who tested Rosemary as well as Lavender essential oil. The individuals were tested with either diffused Rosemary, diffused Lavender or no aroma. All of the participants thought that they were brought in to test a vitamin-infused water.

Objects were hidden around the room to be found after testing was complete. While in the testing rooms, participants went through a series of test involving word puzzles, demanding memory skills that became increasingly more complex, involving recall of their memory. Then back to the hidden objects they went.

It was found that the Rosemary group did phenomenal with the testing, while the Lavender group started out ok, but performance slowly declined, likely due to what we know about Lavender and its sedative effects.

Read more about the details of the study here and here.

How Can We Harness the Effects of Rosemary

So are you thinking that you will need to walk around with an inhaler under your nose during all your waking hours? As we get older, walking into a room and forgetting why we are there becomes increasingly more common. Thankfully being attached to a sprig of Rosemary, an inhaler, or diffusing all day is not needed nor recommended. If you are going to sit down to read a book, study for an exam, or any other arduous task, diffusing a nice blend of essential oils including Rosemary 1,8-cineole will be very beneficial for you.

Here is one of my favorites:



(1) Moss, M. Oliver, L. (2012) Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. 2(3) 103–113 DOI: 10.1177/ 2045125312436573

What does rosemary do to your brain, Retrieved from

Rosemary aroma may help you remember to do things, Retrieved from

Like so many practices in life I encourage you to become educated on the proper use of essential oils. When using them, please do so cautiously, understanding that there is often misinformation on the internet.  You can be assured that I support only educated and proven resources. While essential oils should not be feared they should be respected and used properly to ensure the safety of the individuals using them.

Please note that I am not a medical practitioner. The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. By using this website, you assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions. 



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