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February 27, 2021

Effect of Rosemary on Improving Brain & Memory Function

The Lamiaceae family is a rich source of large amounts of phenolic acids, so it is revealed to be a potential source of natural antioxidant. Rosemary (family Lamiaceae) is a spice and medicinal herb which is widely used around the world.

Several studies have found some beneficial effects for rosemary leaves such as anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, cytoprotective, anti-tumoral, (1) antidepressant, diuretic, antinociceptive and antiulcerogenic (2) effects. Rosemary contains numerous compounds including diterpenes, triterpenes, flavones and steroids. (1)

Rosemary has traditional reputations that justify investigation for a potential role in reducing widespread cognitive decline in the elderly. In 2012, a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, crossover study was conducted to investigate possible acute effects of dried rosemary leaf powder on cognitive performance and the results were published in Journal of Medicinal Food.  

28 older adults (mean age, 75 years) were tested using the Cognitive Drug Research computerized assessment system 1, 2.5, 4, and 6 hours following a placebo and four different doses of rosemary (750, 1500, 3000, 6000 mg, orally) and there was a 7-day washout between visits. There was a biphasic dose-dependent effect in measures of speed of memory: the lowest dose (750 mg) of rosemary had a statistically significant beneficial effect compared with placebo, whereas the highest dose (6,000 mg) had a significant impairing effect.

Speed of memory is a potentially useful predictor of cognitive function during aging. (3)

In 2017, the effects of essential oil of rosemary on the human short-term image and numerical memory have been described. The study involved 53 secondary school students (24 boys and 29 girls) aged 13–15 years, residents of the Ukrainian metropolis.

Participants were divided into the control group and “Rosemary” group, in which the rosemary essential oil was sprayed. The essential oil of rosemary has significantly increased the image memory compared to the control. Inhalation of the rosemary essential oil increased the memorization of numbers as well. The results were published in Egyptian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences. (4)

Also effect of rosemary on memory was examined in animal models. In 2012 the effects of the hydroalcoholic extract of rosemary on the memory of male mice was investigated. The behavioral tasks employed were social recognition (SR, a part of psychology science), the Morris water maze (MWM, a behavioral procedure mostly used with rodents) and an inhibitory avoidance task (IA, a commonly used behavioral task to investigate learning and memory processes in rodents).

This study showed that, the hydro-alcoholic extract of R. officinalis at 150 and 300 mg/kg modulated the short- and long-term memories of mice, in a social recognition and inhibitory avoidance task, respectively. This modulator effect was shown to improve learning and memory processes. (2)

Rosemary is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs. Both the leaves and flowers have been used medicinally for thousands of years to improve memory. During the middle Ages, rosemary was considered a symbol of friendship, loyalty, and remembrance that was used at weddings and funerals. (5)






1- Rasoolijazi, H., Mehdizadeh, M., Soleimani, M., Nikbakhte, F., Eslami Farsani, M., & Ababzadeh, Sh. (2015). The Effect of Rosemary Extract on Spatial Memory, Learning and Antioxidant Enzymes Activities in the Hippocampus of Middle-Aged Rats. Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 29, 187. Retrieved from


2- Zanella, C.A., Treichel, H., Cansian, R.L., & Roman, S.S. (2012). The Effects of Acute Administration of the Hydroalcoholic Extract of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) (Lamiaceae) in Animal Models of Memory. Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 48(3), On-line version ISSN 2175-9790. Retrieved from


3- Pengelly, A., Snow, J., Y. Mills, S., Scholey, A., Wesnes, K., & Butler, L.R. (2012). Short-Term Study on the Effects of Rosemary on Cognitive Function in an Elderly Population. Journal of Medicinal Food, 15(1), 10-17. Retrieved from


4- Filiptsova , O.V., Gazzavi-Rogozina, L.V., Timoshyna, I.A., Naboka, O.I.,  Dyomina, Y.V., &  Ochkur, A.V. (2017).The Essential Oil of Rosemary and its Effect on the Human Image and Numerical Short-Term Memory. Egyptian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 4(2), 107-111. Retrieved from


5- Simon, A. (2015, October 28). Mprove Your Memory with Rosemary: The Herb of Remembrance. Retrieved from


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