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The Rosemary Series – #1 Memory

Do you have trouble remembering everything you read about an herb? There’s so much to learn about Rosemary. I was just about to write a long article on it when I stumbled across a brilliant suggestion – serve up little bite-sized nuggets instead. So much easier to write, and to remember!

So we’re going to try this out. I’ll post regular short memory nuggets about Rosemary. If you follow along you’ll probably learn a lot more than by eating the whole meal at once. Just try to digest one nugget at a time! I’ll also add a photo that can easily be shared containing the main points. Please let me know if you like this idea and share your own thoughts and experiences to round it out a bit more.

Rosemary Memory (1)

Long known as an aid to memory, researchers have started conducting clinical trials to find out if its true. The short answer is, yes, it’s true. Not only does it aid memory but is considered a potential therapeutic agent to prevent and treat dementia. It helps with focus and improves both short and long term memory while lifting the spirit (an added flavor).

One randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, repeated-measures crossover study titled, Short-term study on the effects of rosemary on cognitive function in an elderly population , with men over age 75  doses of dried Rosemary leaf that approximated what would be taken as part of the diet at near normal levels (750 mg) improved speed of memory but high doses impaired memory! So the take home is, if you skip a day of using the herb in cuisine, a cup of Rosemary tea or standard doses of tincture would keep the old brain cells lively.

An animal study sheds some light on the biochemistry behind Rosemary’s effects and concludes;

Rosemary, as part of a diet and medication can be a valuable proposal for the prevention and treatment of dementia…

The study suggests that RE [Rosemary Extract] led to improved long-term memory in rats, which can be partially explained by its inhibition of AChE activity in rat brain.




So we’ve seen positive results with Rosemary leaf and the extract, what about the essential oil?

This study compared Lavender and Rosemary essential oils. Both oils produced objective effects on mood and cognition. While Lavender improved mood, it flunked in the tests for improving working memory and it impaired reaction times for both memory and attention based tasks. Rosemary, on the other hand, “produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors.” In this study speed of memory for the Rosemary group wasn’t as good as for the controls. If you want to experiment with this make yourself a Rosemary Memory Stick. Put some rock salt in a very small bottle that’s comfortable to hold up to your nose. Add about 20 drops of therapeutic grade Rosemary essential oil to it. Shake it. When you need a mental boost, inhale the aroma from this special bottle for about 3 minutes. Let us know how it works for you!


Sage, the “Savior”

Photo Courtesy of Maggie Hoffman

Ever since I first realized I might age, Sage has beckoned. There was a conference on aging back in the 80’s that caught my eye, called “Saging, Not Aging”  – so, what is it about Sage?Why are wise men called “Sages”? Could there be a relationship to the plant itself?

I was looking for more than what  my herbal library had to say about this plant – precious little about it’s role in the aging process.  This was  a plant held in high esteem by the Greeks, Romans and Old European herbalists. A common saying was, “Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?’

It’s Latin name, Salvia, comes from the Latin salvere  which means ‘to heal’ or ‘to be safe and unharmed’. These days its mostly known as a culinary herb. Sage has slipped. By that I mean, if you look at what herbalists recommend for various conditions, Sage will be overshadowed by other plants (with a few exceptions, ie.sore throats, night sweats, smudging). Perhaps its our culture’s fascination with what’s new.  If I may offer my own 2012 prediction – Sage shall rise again.  A precursor to its rise – in 2001 it was named the “Herb of the Year” by the International Herb Association.

A member of the mint family, its closest to it’s cousin, Rosemary – considered  THE best herb for protection against radiation – I wonder if Sage might do that too?  There are over 500 varieties of Sage, they are not interchangeable either…Sages have their own personalities. The wild Sage we commonly find around the Ozarks is Lyre-Leaf Sage. also known as Cancerweed. We do not put it in soups or stuffing. Records indicate it was Salvia officinalis who won first-place among the ancient healers…that’s our common garden sage. Don’t be fooled by it’s moniker , common. Medicinally speaking, its so strong that some herbalists caution not to tincture it nor use its essential oil. This is due to its thujone content which, if misused is a neurotoxin. Used wisely, thujone heals some difficult conditions.

One of the safest ways a gardener can use it is to nibble on 7-8 leaves daily. Its said to aid memory at that amount. Otherwise, an infusion of properly dried herb works well.

Getting back to Saging instead of Aging – There is some research into this plant that supports the anti-aging claims. Take menopause – a natural process that I would consider aging only if done poorly, causing debility. There was one clinical study using Salvia extract (along with Alfalfa) to alleviate a variety of menopausal symptoms. Hot flashes and night sweats completely disappeared in all of the subjects. (1)

Another study validates its traditional use in  mild to moderate Alzheimer’s as a neuroprotective (2)

The chances of developing type 2 diabetes increases as we age (though its appearing in younger people all too often lately) .  Sage is known to help control blood sugar and also acts as a blood cleaner. Now we have a study indicating it may well be a treatment for diabetes 2. I know of one 67 year old woman who reversed her diabetes through diet, exerise and Sage. (3)

Antioxidants are well-known to slow down aging. It turns out the Sage is loaded with them. It also protects the liver. A study was done that indicates that the compounds present in Sage infusions contain interesting bioactivities, which improve the liver antioxidant potential. (4) Another study showed that Sage may prevent degenerative diseases associated with oxidative stress. (5)

Of course, there’s a lot more to Sage than what I’ve written here so I encourage all of you to seek it out and explore its potential. Isn’t this a great time to arm ourselves with a  plant that keeps us “safe from harm”? And isn’t 2012 supposed to be when we’re all transformed into Sages?