Rosemary Essential Oil: Nature’s Nootropic


Rosemary (Rosmarinum officinalis) essential oil is one of the most popular essential oils because of to its ability to ignite feelings of refreshment and invigoration with its fresh, almost woodsy herbal fragrance. While most people associate rosemary with food, it has a rich tradition not solely in cuisine but in folk medicine and traditional culture as well.

Romans used rosemary in religious ceremonies, while the Egyptians used it as incense. By the 16th century, Paracelsus, a renowned Swiss physician who coined the term “essential oil,” promoted rosemary essential oil for its ability to strengthen the body, believing it to benefit the heart, liver, and brain.1

Rosemary essential oil is now popularly used to benefit hair health, as well as in aromatherapy. However, neurohackers have found some nootropic benefits for this oil as well.

As a nootropic essential oil, rosemary is primarily valued for its impressive beneficial effects on memory. This may not come as much of a surprise to many, as rosemary has been linked to good memory for centuries.2

rosemaryNootropic Benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil

Recent research has set out to understand what effects rosemary has on cognitive function and by what mechanisms it achieves these effects. Highlighted below are the top scientifically-backed nootropic benefits of rosemary essential oil.

Increases Energy

If you breathe in rosemary, you are likely to notice increased feelings of alertness, something that almost feels like enhanced focus. In one study, volunteers who inhaled rosemary essential oil reported feeling “fresher” and were found to become more active after inhalation.3

This study also measured physiological changes like increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Given the elevation in these markers, it’s not surprising that some users reported heightened alertness after breathing in rosemary essential oil.

Enhances Memoryrosemary

In one study, healthy volunteers were exposed to rosemary essential oil at the same time they took a computerized assessment of cognition.4 Researchers discovered that rosemary essential oil, in comparison to the control (no odor), was found to produce a significant improvement in the quality of memory, as well as secondary memory factors.

One warning when it comes to using rosemary essential oil for memory: while it has demonstrated promise for enhancing memory, in one study, it did so at the cost of speed of memory. This means that while the memory performance was enhanced, the speed of memory was decreased.

Reduces Stress

When individuals experience stress, the body releases stress hormones (primarily cortisol) that prompt the body to enter fight-or-flight mode. One of the results of this stress response is inflammation in the body, which is how the body combats the stress. However, when individuals experience one stressor after another, the bodies continue to release cortisol, which can lead to chronic inflammation and damage to the cells of the body.

Too much stress and the related inflammatory response have been implicated in the pathogenesis of many conditions, including mood disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.5 This means that chronic stress can dampen mood, as well as brain function.

In an effort to look at methods of reducing stress, researchers sought to determine what, if any, effect aromatherapy with rosemary essential oil had on salivary levels of the stress hormone cortisol.6 In this study, volunteers inhaled rosemary essential oil aroma for five minutes and had their cortisol measured before and after. Following inhalation of rosemary essential, cortisol levels in participants were significantly decreased.

rosemaryBoosts Mood

Following an assessment to test cognitive function, healthy volunteers who were exposed to rosemary essential oil during the test were found to be more content than those who were exposed to no odor.

Increases Alertness

After healthy adults were exposed to rosemary essential oil during a computerized cognitive assessment battery, they were found to be more alert than participants with no odor exposure.


Rosemary essential is perhaps the most scientific evidence backing its cognitive-enhancing effects. Try using this essential oil topically after diluting it with a carrier oil or aromatically in a room diffuser, or on-the-go with a portable diffuser like Active, Vibrant, or Zen as each of them contain rosemary essential oil.

PhotoCredits: NataliaKlenova/, bitt24/, pathdoc/, IrynaInshyna/, Dream79/


By Maddy Jenner

Maddy is a researcher and an essential oil advocate and loves learning about the intersection of these categories. She loves hiking, camping, exploring and being outside.

Show Comments Hide Comments

The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers. MONQ blends should not be inhaled into the lungs.

Jul 13, 2021Meditation

A Brief History on Meditation

Meditation is an art that has a long and rich history. Learn about how this practice began and how it has evolved over centuries to what we practice today

Read More

Jun 29, 2021CBD

Exploring the Topical Benefits of CBD

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound derived from the hemp plant, a member of the cannabis family. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the well-known psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces an intoxicating psychoactive effect, CBD provides therapeutic benefits without a high. These properties are the reason that CBD has become so popular. CBD can be used aromatically, […]

Read More

Sign Up and Breathe Better!

Auto-Ship is convenient and fast.