Halfway to Scarborough Fair? The Cognitive and Mood Effects of Rosemary and Sage Aromas

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The application of aromas as therapeutic treatments and mood stabilisers/enhancers is widely recognised and practised. The possibility of their use as cognitive enhancers is less well known or researched. Received wisdom assumed that our cognitive functioning was optimal for the environment in which we have evolved. However, research has demonstrated that natural nutritional interventions can augment cognition. My research has investigated the possibility that natural aromatic compounds absorbed through inhalation might also exert beneficial effects. Orally administered sage preparations have been shown to improve memory and here I present data that indicate that sage aromas act in a similar manner. The dietary impact of rosemary on cognition is less well researched. However, I provide evidence that the absorption of pharmacologically active compounds occurs during exposure to rosemary aroma and that these are related to observed improvements in performance. With regard to impact on subjective mood state, the data are less illuminating but it would appear that mood effects are perhaps a response to the psychological qualia of the aromas rather than anything pharmacological. This independence in effects offers interesting opportunities for the future development of health promoting aroma-based interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy
Issue number1&2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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