Aromatic scents are known for their calming effects on the body and mind, but a new study revealed another use for rosemary. The rosemary scent may help one to remember tasks and events for the day, research says.
A study conducted by postgraduate students of Northumbria University in United Kingdom found that the scent of rosemary oil helps improve the memory of older adults. It may even help them to remember events and to complete a task at a specific time in the future.
The study, conducted by Lucy Moss, Lauren Bussey and Dr. Mark Moss, focused on the memory of 150 participants who are 65 years old and above. The experiment used four drops of lavender and rosemary essential oils that was put into a diffuser. The device was then turned on five minutes before the participants went inside the room, while another room without any aroma was also used in the study.
"In this study we focused on prospective memory. This involves the ability to remember events that will occur in the future and to remember to complete tasks at particular times. It's critical for everyday functioning," said Bussey.
The healthy participants were randomly chosen to enter either the room diffused with essential aroma or the room without any scent.
When the participants entered the rooms, they were asked to complete a series of tests that will assess the their prospective memory function. The test includes recalling to send a message at a particular time during the setup and to swap activities when an unexpected event took place.
The tasks given to the participants represent two elements of prospective memory, which are event-based and time based. The participants also took a mood assessment test before and after the memory function test.
After the procedure, the researchers analyzed the collected data and found out that those who entered the room with rosemary and lavender aroma displayed significant results of enhanced prospective memory than those who were in a room without any essential oils.
The mood assessment results also showed significant evidence of rosemary increasing the alertness of the participants, while the lavender scent made them more calm and contented if compared to those who entered the room without any diffused aromatic essential oils.
"These findings support previous research indicating that the aroma of rosemary essential oil can enhance cognitive functioning in healthy adults. This is the first time that similar effects have been demonstrated in the healthy over ," said Bussey.
She added that their study needs further research in order to find out if the essential oils bring other benefits in the long run.
The study was presented during the British Psychological Society Annual Conference on April 26 to 28, held in Nottingham, England.
Photo: Health Guage | Flickr