this post on lavender and aromatherapy: The studies are showing that inhaling lavender essential oil can decrease anxiety and stress and the expression of same as well as increasing sleep.)
In one study by Diego et al (1988. As noted from p. 292 of the Handbook of Essential Oils), a study was conducted with lavender and rosemary essential oils. Participants inhaled one or the other for three minutes before a math task. Both essential oils were found to affect performance compared with a baseline. Both increased calculating speed, but the lavender increased accuracy. (An increase in speed without an increase in accuracy is kinda pointless! They wondered if the people who inhaled rosemary were "overaroused"!) The rosemary group reported feeling more alert, while the lavender group reported having a less depressed mood. All reported feeling less anxious, more relaxed and more alert, but there was a feeling of general drowsiness for the lavender group.
In another study (see link below), the lavender group saw "a significant decrement in performance of working memory" and a decrease in reaction times. The rosemary group showed enhanced performance for overall quality of memory but an impairment in speed of memory. Both groups reported feeling more content than the control group, but the rosemary group reported feeling more alert than the other two groups. As a note, they mention the whole speed vs. accuracy thing - perhaps a reduction in speed facilitates a higher level of accuracy? (page 32). (Moss, M., Cook, J., Wesnes, K., & Duckett, P. (2003). AROMAS OF ROSEMARY AND LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OILS DIFFERENTIALLY AFFECT COGNITION AND MOOD IN HEALTHY ADULTS. International Journal Of Neuroscience, 113(1), 15. (Click here for the study. I really recommend that you read this. It is simply fascinating and gives all kinds of reasons why aromatherapy works.)
I have looked at a number of other studies, and they are coming up with the same thing. Rosemary makes you more alert, more speedy, but less focused. I just didn't want to overwhelm you with citations!
So this sounds pretty positive...except it sounds like inhaling rosemary might result in some kind of alertness but also some spazziness where you can't control your power? (I feel like this most days!) I don't get the idea of being relaxed but alert - remember, though, I'm all about the hyperness - but it sounds like the use of rosemary in aromatherapy might result in someone feeling a bit more energetic, but not quit as focused. (Like a firehose spraying everywhere! Lots of power and energy, but less control).
Join me tomorrow as we take a look at rosemary essential oil's role as an anti-inflammatory!