Friday, March 2, 2012

Smarter, faster, better with…rosemary?

We’re only just starting to grasp the many complex ways our diet affects our health. We know that we can guard against disease and even improve our mood by eating healthy. But who would have thought that certain foods—and herbs—can actually help us think better and faster, and to remember what we’ve learned longer!  

And here’s the kicker. The latest research shows that we may not even have to eat them! Believe it or not, just the scent of some herbs, such as peppermint and rosemary, can improve our cognitive performance (translation: how quickly and well we can solve problems).  

Nutrition for the mind

Researchers at Northumbria University in the UK recently reported that people who were exposed to rosemary essential oil showed improvements in working memory and scored better on a math test, compared to people who were not exposed, and that there were "medium to large effects."[i]

Nutrition for the body

This doesn’t mean we should sniff rosemary instead of eating it, though. Earlier research has shown that actually eating the herb may help protect against diseases that affect the brain and nervous system, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.[ii] It’s also a known anti-inflammatory and has been shown to protect against cancer.[iii]

So, go ahead and sprinkle some rosemary on your chicken, turkey or fish before you bake it. Or add some rosemary to your bread or stuffing for a great-tasting healthy boost. 

Nutrition for the spirit

Interestingly, all this new research just confirms what the ancients already knew. At least as far back as the Middle Ages, brides wore rosemary at their weddings to symbolize remembrance of the life they had led before their marriage; and Greek scholars wore rosemary in their hair when studying for exams.[iv] Rosemary was also used at funerals, again for remembrance.

Since the ancients believed it contained powerful, purifying energies, it has been used for centuries in religious and spiritual rituals for protection against negativity. In the Middle Ages, it was even reputed to ward off witches and evildoers. [v]  

[i] Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology published online 24 February 2012
Photo Source=[ Flowering Rosemary] |Date=April 22, 2006 at 18:39 |Author=[ THOR] |Permission= |other_vers)