Rosemary: the mind-bending herb of choice for today’s students

August 4, 2017

Sales of the plants oil which reportedly improves memory have shot up in the past year. So, which other natural redress may aid learning?

Students are known for dabbling with mind-altering herbs, and the latest tale of herbal experimentation shows there has been a rush on rosemary. Following a report that the woody herb may improve memory, students have been trying it out to give them the edge in exams.

Health store Holland& Barrett has reported a 187% increased number of sale of rosemary oil in the past year. A spokesman said that most in-store the issue of rosemary received from parents hoping to boost their childrens success for exam season. The store also said that relaxation assistances and natural energy drinks … have been popular this exam day as alternatives to caffeine.

Molecules in rosemary oil have been shown previously[ to] have the ability to interact with the brains neurotransmitters, according to Mark Moss, head of the psychology department at Northumbria University. Compounds are absorbed into the blood by inhaling the fragrance. They interact with what is called the cholinergic system, who participates in memory, he added.

Herbal redress, says Moss, are not a magic bullet. Its not just one molecule; there are a number of them and you need the right molecules in the right proportions in order to get the beneficial consequence. You might actually get some rosemary petroleum that isnt having any beneficial effect.

It is also worth remembering, perhaps aided by a cup of rosemary tea, that evidence for the benefits of herbal remedies mostly comes from small-scale analyses. In any case, here are some other remedies that might be useful to students.


Last year, Moss presented findings that showed that volunteers who drank peppermint tea before tests had better memory and alertness than those who were given camomile tea. In the US, analyses led by Bryan Raudenbush, an associate professor of psychology at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, procured peppermint scent reduced anxiety and wearines.


Raudenbush also studied the effects of cinnamon, testing it in a simulated driving experiment. He observed it increased alertness and reduced frustration.


Moss has also studied sage. He detected performance enhancements in aspects of memory and also attention the speed at which you can attend to something. They are small effects, but they seem to be beneficial.

Ginkgo biloba

This supplement, removed from the leaves of the ginkgo tree, is believed traditionally to give cognitive benefits, but one large study into whether it could help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimers disease or dementia failed to show positive results, while one review discovered no compelling evidence that ginkgo biloba was helpful in healthy young person. Sometimes we have found beneficial effects and sometimes we have not, tells Moss. These extracts differ considerably depending on where they have been sourced. Perhaps no amount of supplements and herbal teas can make up for remainder and revision.

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