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Study shows sniffing rosemary can help students with exam revision

Finding it hard to retain months of coursework in the lead up to exams? A new study claims that you can improve your memory by simply sniffing a common herb.
sniffing rosemary improves memoryCredit: hobvias sudoneighm – Flickr
With exam season fast approaching, it can be extremely difficult to feel adequately prepared. In fact, just the word ‘exam’ makes most people start to sweat.

But apparently there's a solution to your revision woes! A study from Northumbria University has found that students can improve their memory just by sniffing rosemary!

Yep, you read that right. Not only does the herb accentuate the taste of lamb and garlic, but it accentuates brain power too.

If rosemary doesn’t float your boat, there are some other tasty foods that have been proven to reduce stress and improve memory!

How does rosemary improve your memory?

Questioning cartoon faceSo, of course, there is some complicated science behind why rosemary is good for remembering things.

Essentially, there are certain compounds in rosemary oil that are responsible. These compounds stop neurotransmitters in your brain from breaking down, which in turns allows you to retain more information.

Amazingly, sniffing rosemary is much more powerful than eating it because whist inhaling goes to the brain, eating rosemary absorbs it into the gut with only trace amounts getting into your bloodstream.

People have associated rosemary with memory-improvement for hundreds of years, too. Students in Ancient Greece would even wear rosemary around their necks during an exam – you don’t have to go that far (but who's to judge?).

But does it really work?

does rosemary help you studyIf Dr. Mark Moss of Northumbria Uni's experiments are anything to go by, then yeah – it really does work!

His study involved splitting a panel of 40 young students aged 10-11 into two groups. Both groups were then given a memory test, but only one group had the smell of rosemary filling the room. They found that the pupils in the rosemary group scored 5-7% higher in the memory test.

Interestingly, their experiment follows another study they conducted back in 2013, which involved adults rather than young students – and the results were even starker.

In that study, two groups of 33 adults were compared in the same environment, but this time they reported that the group in the rosemary room remembered a whopping 60-75% more! Does this mean rosemary becomes a more effective memory stimulant the older you get?

Dr. Moss's study will be presented at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society, too, so it seems pretty legit!

Check out these great TED talks for extra exam motivation, and in the very unlikely event you'll need it – how to revise in a day and ace it (rosemary sniffing optional!).

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