Diagnosed with Cancer? Your two greatest challenges are understanding cancer and understanding possible side effects from chemo and radiation.  Knowledge is Power!

Learn about conventional, complementary, and integrative therapies.

Dealing with treatment side effects? Learn about evidence-based therapies to alleviate your symptoms.

Click the orange button to the right to learn more.

Rosemary Oil- Cognitive-Enhancer?

Share Button

I underwent aggressive chemo in 1995 to try to manage a diagnosis of a type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. My induction chemo and autologous stem cell transplant didn’t help but left me with a host of long-term and late stage side effects.

So when I came across the meta analysis of rosemary oil linked below, I wondered if it would help me in my ongoing efforts to enhance my cognitive function. I developed a side effect called chemotherapy-induced cognitive dysfunction aka chemobrain. 

BTW- I just turned 64 and worry about the usual decline of mental function as I reach into my golden years.

I have worked hard to improve my chemobrain symptoms but I still have a few challenges with typical things like word recall and facial recognition.

Rosemary oil has been studied for its potential cognitive-enhancing properties, primarily due to its active compound called rosmarinic acid. Research suggests that rosemary oil may have some positive effects on cognitive health, but it’s important to note that the evidence is not conclusive, and more research is needed.

Here are some findings related to rosemary oil and cognitive health:

  1. Improved Memory: Some studies have indicated that the aroma of rosemary oil may help improve memory and alertness. The scent of rosemary has been associated with increased alertness and contentment.
  2. Antioxidant Properties: Rosemary oil contains antioxidants that may help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. This could potentially have a positive impact on brain health.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Rosmarinic acid, found in rosemary, has anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation may play a role in cognitive decline, so reducing inflammation could potentially benefit cognitive health.
  4. Acetylcholinesterase Inhibition: Some compounds in rosemary may inhibit the activity of an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is important for memory and learning. Inhibiting this enzyme could theoretically lead to increased levels of acetylcholine in the brain.
  5. Animal Studies: Some animal studies have shown promising results regarding the cognitive benefits of rosemary extract or oil. However, it’s important to note that findings in animals do not always directly translate to humans.

It’s worth mentioning that while there is some evidence suggesting potential cognitive benefits of rosemary oil, it should not be considered a substitute for medical treatment or professional advice. If you’re interested in using rosemary oil for cognitive health, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances.

I would like to also plug evidence-based but non-conventional brain health therapies such as:

Additionally, if you’re considering using essential oils like rosemary oil, be sure to use them safely and according to recommended guidelines to avoid any potential adverse effects.

Do you have chemobrain? Are you trying to enhance your brain health? Let me know. Thanks.


David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Cognition enhancing effect of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) in lab animal studies: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Rosmarinus officinalis has long been known as the herb of remembrance and can be a potential cognition enhancer for Alzheimer’s Disease…

Overall, R. officinalis improved cognitive outcomes in normal and impaired animals, and results were robust across species, type of extract, treatment duration, and type of memory…

Mild cognitive impairment is a deficit in memory and cognition with no physical limitation in daily activities…

Patients with mild cognitive impairment frequently progress to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), placing a heavy burden on the public health system (). Hence, it is necessary to delay this progression for which there are many strategies including the use of cognitive enhancers (also referred as nootropics).

Medications approved as cognitive enhancers for the treatment of AD include

  • cholinesterase inhibitors (e.g., donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine) and
  • the N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor antagonist (memantine) (,).

Currently, these drugs are the mainstay of treatment, but their effectiveness is controversial, and each has its own set of adverse effects and limitations…

Interest in herbal medications as cognitive-enhancers is increasing with several promising compounds made available for the purpose, such as:

  • curcumin,
  • Ginkgo biloba,
  • Bacopa monnieri,
  • Hupericum perforatum,
  • Salvia officinalis (sage),
  • huperzine A (Lycopodium serratum),
  • and ginseng ().

These herbs have shown to be promising cognition enhancers, especially for the treatment of AD due to their cognitive benefits and, more importantly, for their mechanisms of action that address the fundamental pathophysiology of the disease in various preclinical and clinical trials…

Conclusions- This systematic review and meta-analysis indicated that administration of R. officinalis improved cognitive function in animal models of cognitive deficit and in normal intact animals…

The cognitive benefits provided by R. officinalis and its mechanisms of action are in synchrony with the fundamental pathophysiology of cognitive deficit and the herb could be a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease…”





Leave a Comment: