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Jan Hills

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Powering performance with… rosemary oil


In this series we look at an aspect of science that gets too little (in our view) attention in business and that’s what we eat, how we move our body and use our brain. Take a look at the whole series here!

The other really interesting research on memory enhancement is Rosemary Oil. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is one of many traditional medicinal plants.

Research carried out by Mark Moss and Lorraine Oliver, working at the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre at Northumbria University, UK tested cognitive performance and mood in a group of 20 people, who were exposed to different levels of the rosemary aroma.

Using blood samples to detect the amount of the active ingredient in rosemary (1,8-cineole) that they had absorbed, the researchers applied speed and accuracy tests, and mood assessments, to judge the rosemary oil's affects. 

Results indicate that the concentration of 1,8-cineole in the blood is linked to cognitive performance – with higher concentrations resulting in improved performance and increased speed and accuracy.

There was also an impact on mood. With greater concentrations and contentedness resulting in better performance, this is consistent with other studies on mood and performance.

"Only contentedness possessed a significant relationship with 1,8-cineole levels, and interestingly to some of the cognitive performance outcomes, leading to the intriguing proposal that positive mood can improve performance whereas aroused mood cannot," said Moss. 

Scholars of ancient Greece wore wreaths made of rosemary to improve recall while taking exams.

Scholars of ancient Greece wore wreaths made of rosemary to improve recall while taking exams. Wearing a wreath may look a little weird at work but you can get the same benefits by dabbing rosemary essential oil on your wrist, drinking rosemary tea or I use rosemary essential oil in a burner in my office.

Just make sure it's 100% essential oil and not a synthetic version.

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Jan Hills


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