I have a big fear of mental illness. Particularly Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Why? Because my grandfather had dementia and suffered from it for about 10 years before he past away in August.
Ok, Ok, in the interest of not getting too depressing, I’ll just say that that fear is what drove me to learn about these herbs.
Don’t worry, I’ll explain it in more depth in a second. Basically scientists have discovered that lavender and rosemary can have significant impacts on a person’s mood and memory. Two very different impacts actually.
Lavandula (lavender) is a species of flowering plant from the mint family, lamiaceae. It is native to the old world and is found virtually across the globe. The most widely cultivated species, Lavandula angustifolia, is often referred to as lavender, and there is a color named for the shade of the flowers of this species.
Rosmarinus officinalis, commonly known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, nativeto the Mediterranean region. It is also a member of the mint family Lamiaceae.
It is also commonly used in cooking. It gives a strong rose-like flavor to anything it is paired with.
What’s the big deal?
According to a study conducted by Northumbria University, smelling the aromas of rosemary and lavender impacted memory in people over 65, with the scent of rosemary enhancing memory, and lavender impairing it.
Yeah, I bet I have your attention now don’t I?
One study looked at 150 healthy individuals, aged 65 and over. They were placed in rooms which had been scented with rosemary and lavender oils, or a room with no scent. They were then asked to forego some testing that assessed their memory, and mood.
The individuals in the lavender room exhibited increased calmness, and contentedness, with a decrease in their ability to remember to do something at a given time. Ok, now that’s interesting, isn’t it?
The rosemary room individuals, on the other hand, exhibited enhanced prospective memory, with test scores 15% higher than those who had been in the room with no aroma. They were also more alert.
So while, lavender makes you calmer, rosemary makes you more alert. They are literal opposites of one another.
Researchers believe the interesting effects of the herbs are beneficial to human health, particularly in older aged groups. If you are pretty much healthy then this research suggests that there is an opportunity to have an improved memory. The same researchers have also discovered that sage, ginseng, lemon balm and gingko biloba can all have positive effects on improving mental performance.
So if you’re wondering, I’m going to stay away from smelling lavender and use rosemary around my house whenever I can. This definitely doesn’t mean that lavender contributes to Alzheimer’s, but if there’s anything I can do to decrease my chances of mental illness, I’m going to do it.
You can too. Say it with me. Rosemary. Rosemary. ROSEMARY!