Rosemary essential oil is an important ingredient in our Natural Shine Enhancing Shampoo. We use it for its excellent gentle astringency, which greatly helps loosen sebum and debris from the scalp. It is excellent for tonifying the scalp and keeping it healthy and dandruff free.
But perhaps even more importantly, studies have shown that rosemary essential oil has another important effect that goes beyond scalp and skin health.
Just a simple inhalation of this spicy, earthy oil can actually impact your cognitive abilities and improve your focus. You might just want to keep a small bottle around to take a whiff of once in a while when you’re feeling a little out of focus!
The most compelling correlation between rosemary and cognitive performance is of an instantaneous memory boost. Those that were inhaling the aromatic oil tended to remember the very things they were trying to recall or trying to memorize at the moment they were smelling the oil.
Study subjects who were in a room scented with rosemary performed consistently better memorizing future events and complex tasks. This could have some pretty incredible implications for making one’s life go much more smoothly.
How many times have you wish for a “smart pill” that could help you remember your daily list of “to do’s”? Sometimes our professions require that we are able to sit down and focus on a certain project, solve a complicated problem or deal with a complex issue. Imagine how much better we could perform if we had help with focusing on these tasks?
It is unclear whether it’s the distinct aroma of rosemary that helps to stimulate the brain’s contextual memory centers, or whether there is a constituent of the herbal oil that physiologically affects us upon entering the body via the nasal passages and then the lungs. It may in fact be a combination of the two.
Anxiety and Stress
Getting the occasional whiff of rosemary (up close and personal) may also have an effect on our mood, which in turn may help explain its relationship to increased memory and retention. One particular study showed the inhalation of rosemary, as well as the essential oil of lavender, reduced cortisol, a steroid hormone marker of anxiety and stress, in nursing students who were taking a test.
The inhalation of plant oils is not only the actual aroma our brain is registering that can have an effect on how we feel or perceive things in that moment. The bio-active chemicals within them can be absorbed by our body to some extent via the active molecules that are circulating in the air, and subsequently attach to our lung tissue and distributed throughout the body.
Further, some of these molecules are able to then penetrate the blood-brain barrier in order to induce certain effects on our brain activity and therefore our behavior.
This helps explain phenomenon like the calming effect of an outdoor summer walk that is rife with the scents of plants, trees and shrubs, or the scents of flowers permeating the air, oxygenating the blood and also potentially putting out various phytochemicals that may be absorbed.
Another common example is the feeling some people get when they mow the lawn. Studies have shown that inhaling the scent of freshly cut grass actually induces feelings of calm and well-being. So, it is often not just the pleasant scent that our brain correlates with a certain state of being. Rosemary, and other plant oils may actually have a direct, chemical or physiological effect on our bodies as well.