According to historical accounts, students in ancient Greece consumed rosemary to help boost their memory. They also wore rosemary garlands when taking examinations. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region and has been used for many other purposes throughout history. Although ancient Greeks did not have the research capabilities that scientists have today, the trend of using rosemary for memory continued because people experienced the benefits for themselves.
Today, researchers are still testing the effects of rosemary. According to a study that was cited by Healthline, researchers infused a room with rosemary and asked 20 adults several math questions. The researchers noted that the speed and accuracy of the answers were both directly related to the time that the rosemary was released into the air. Another interesting finding was that the students’ blood levels showed rosemary compound increases, which revealed that the substance could enter the body simply by breathing it in.
Additional research that was cited in the story showed that inhaling rosemary oil helped prevent acetylcholine breakdown. Acetylcholine is a brain chemical that is vital for concentration, memory and clear thinking. Another study cited in the story showed that nursing students who breathed air that was infused with rosemary oil during a test had increased recall and concentration abilities, and these reactions were verified by comparing them to taking tests with lavender oil infusions in the air and no infusions in the air.
Additional studies have shown positive brain function effects of rosemary use in older adults who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Although some ancient practices were tied more to superstition and science, it appears that this ancient Greek practice may hold benefits for people of all ages who want to improve their memory and thinking abilities.