Published in the August 2014 edition of ‘The Bay’ Magazine
You may associate Rosemary with its culinary qualities; true, it adds flavour to stews and meats, but there is more to this garden herb than many realise.
Rosmarinus meaning ‘dew of the sea’ has long been associated with memory. Scholars of ancient Greece wore wreaths of Rosmarinus about the brow to help improve recall while taking exams and at one time it was a traditional wedding herb – placed in the bride’s bouquet and the couple’s wine to help them remember their vows to one another. It became customary for the bride and groom to plant a sprig outside their home on the day of marriage, though the old saying, ‘where rosemary flourishes, the woman rules’ provoked some husbands to remove the plant in order that their authority would not be questioned.
Enhances memory and concentration. Eases headaches associated with mental strain.
- Improves digestion through stimulation of the liver as a result of bitter components.
- Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and inhibits the growth of Candida.
- A rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, helping to boost the immune system and improve blood circulation.
- Neurological protection against free radical damage in the brain.
In an experiment by researchers at the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre at Northumbria University, UK, investigators tested cognitive performance of twenty subjects who were exposed to varying levels of Rosmarinus essential oil. Those individuals who measured highest for blood concentrations of a specific Rosmarinus molecule showed improved speed and accuracy in mental testing.1
Rosemary contains carnosic acid, an ingredient that is able to fight off free radical damage in the brain.In publications by ‘The Journal of Neurochemistry’ and ‘Nature Reviews Neuroscience’, scientists report that carnosic acid becomes activated only when it is needed, by the free radical damage itself, remaining innocuous until then2. This action is known as a “pathological-activated therapeutic”
All in the Head
Current society encourages high paced living with much time spent on mentally stimulating activities. We pursue careers, slot in hobbies, keep fit, clean the house and socialise, often whilst trying to be perfect parents. When we collapse at the end of the day do we appreciate the silence and calm that dusk brings? No, we turn on the lights, carry on at the computer or switch on the television to visually stimulate our already crowded minds. We spend more time ‘in our heads’ and less time experiencing life through our bodies as a whole.
An excess of mental exertion will drain energy reserves, leaving the body feeling lethargic and the mind lacking clarity. In our experience, vitality is the foundation of health, thus it is essential to restore this to the body to allow healing to progress. Patients find that once their energy levels increase they experience fewer infections, increased motivation and the alleviation of chronic symptoms. Acupuncture, along with resolving injuries of the joints and muscles, can trigger balance at a neurological level. Bringing life back into balance can clear forgetfulness, clouded thinking and lethargy away.
The Essentials of Essential Oils
The active components of essential oils enter the bloodstream as we breathe via the nasal or lung mucous membranes. Rosmarinus contains a specific molecule (a terpene, 1,8-cineole) that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier so that it takes effect directly within the brain.
Rosmarinus essential oil can be used in an oil burner in the home or diluted with a carrier oil and massaged into the temples. Use 5 drops of essential oil to 5 ml of carrier oil such as grape seed or jojoba. Consult a trained natural health practitioner before use in pregnancy.
Physical activity improves cognitive function by enhancing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Intersperse periods of study or mental exertion with a burst of physical exercise – go for a brisk walk, skip with a rope or do twenty star jumps to get those creative juices flowing again!
Learning a new skill improves cell to cell communication in the Central Nervous System, thereby improving cognition.
2. Takumi Satoh et al. (2008) Journal of Neurochemistry. Vol 104, issue 4,pp1116-1131
The Herbal Clinic in Swansea provides natural healthcare with the use of organic herbs, acupuncture and iridology.