Can the pungent and pine-like scent of rosemary oil help improve speed and accuracy when performing certain mental tasks? A small new study involving twenty people may have helped proven this to be a possibility.

For the study, participants were asked to perform subtraction exercises and a task to see how quickly they could process new information. This was done before and after being exposed to the scent of rosemary in their work stations.

After the experiment, the researchers measured the participants’ blood levels for a rosemary oil component. They found that the higher their blood levels of this compound, the better the participants scored on these tasks, particularly in terms of speed and accuracy. The oil did not seem to improve alertness.

Exactly how rosemary can improve mental ability is not fully understood, but the findings have been published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology.