How Eating Rosemary Affects Brain Activity in Healthy People

Jim Crocker
7th July, 2024

How Eating Rosemary Affects Brain Activity in Healthy People

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by İstanbul Nişantaşı University examined the effects of rosemary consumption on cognitive function
  • EEG recordings showed a modest increase in brain activity in the theta, delta, and beta frequency bands after consuming rosemary extract
  • There was a significant increase in power at the alpha frequency band, indicating short-term cognitive benefits from rosemary consumption
Rosmarinus officinalis L., commonly known as rosemary, is a fragrant plant from the mint family, widely used as a seasoning agent in food. Beyond its culinary uses, rosemary has traditional applications in folk medicine for its anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and antibacterial properties. Recent research has begun to explore its potential cognitive benefits, particularly through the consumption of plant-based flavonoids, which can be measured using electroencephalography (EEG) to record brain activity. A study conducted by researchers at İstanbul Nişantaşı University aimed to determine the impact of rosemary consumption on cognitive outcomes[1]. In this study, twenty volunteers participated. Each volunteer underwent EEG recordings twice: once before consuming rosemary extract and once approximately one hour after consumption. The EEG data was recorded using a Micromed recording system at a sampling rate of 512 Hz and processed with EEGLAB, an open-source toolbox within the MATLAB environment. The researchers compared the EEG data obtained after rosemary consumption with the preliminary EEG data. The results showed a modest increase in the power spectral density in the theta, delta, and beta frequency bands for both males and females. Although there was a significant increase in power at the alpha frequency band, this increment was not specific to any particular channel. These findings suggest that consuming rosemary extract has a short-term beneficial effect on cognitive function, consistent with similar studies. This study builds on previous research indicating the cognitive benefits of plant-based flavonoids. For example, a pilot study demonstrated that consuming anthocyanin-rich blackcurrant juice led to changes in localized prefrontal cortex neuronal activity, as measured by EEG[2]. The current study's use of EEG to measure cognitive effects aligns with these earlier findings, reinforcing the potential of flavonoid-rich foods to enhance cognitive function. Additionally, the study's results are supported by earlier research on the antioxidant properties of rosemary. Studies have shown that rosemary extract has a higher antioxidant activity than blackseed essential oil, attributed to its higher phenolic content[3]. The phenolic constituents of rosemary, such as carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, are known to contribute significantly to its biological activities[4]. These compounds may play a role in the cognitive benefits observed in the current study, as antioxidants are known to support brain health. Moreover, the stability of these phenolic constituents depends on storage conditions and extraction methods. For instance, rosmarinic acid is highly sensitive to freezing and thawing processes, while flavonoid content decreases in dried samples stored at room temperature[4]. The study by İstanbul Nişantaşı University likely accounted for these factors to ensure the potency of the rosemary extract used in their experiments. In conclusion, the study conducted by İstanbul Nişantaşı University provides evidence that rosemary consumption can have short-term cognitive benefits, as measured by EEG. This aligns with previous research on the cognitive effects of flavonoids and the antioxidant properties of rosemary. Future long-term studies are anticipated to further support these findings and expand our understanding of rosemary's potential cognitive benefits.

HerbsHealthMental Health


Main Study

1) Investigation of the acute impact of rosemary consumption on brain activity in healthy volunteers.

Published 6th July, 2024

Related Studies

2) The impact of blackcurrant juice on attention, mood and brain wave spectral activity in young healthy volunteers.

3) Antioxidant activities of rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis L.) extract, blackseed (Nigella sativa L.) essential oil, carnosic acid, rosmarinic acid and sesamol.

4) Storage method, drying processes and extraction procedures strongly affect the phenolic fraction of rosemary leaves: an HPLC/DAD/MS study.

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