Brain and Body

Scientists Discover a Simple Trick to Improve Memory

April 29, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Peppermint tea

Get sipping!

According to the results of a new study by Dr. Mark Moss, Robert Jones, and Lucy Moss of Northumbria University, there’s a simple thing healthy adults can do to improve their working and long-term memory: drink peppermint tea.

The research involved 180 participants, and they were randomly assigned to different groups — one drank peppermint tea, another drank chamomile tea, and a third drank hot water.

Before consuming the tea, they completed a survey about their mood, and then they completed further tests after a 20-minute rest. The tests assessed their memory and a range of other cognitive functions before the participants completed a final mood questionnaire.

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After analyzing the results, the researchers found that peppermint tea significantly improved long-term memory, working memory, and alertness, compared to both chamomile and hot water. In fact, the chamomile tea significantly slowed memory and attention speed compared to the others.

"It's interesting to see the contrasting effects on mood and cognition of the two different herbal teas,” Dr. Moss said in a press release. “The enhancing and arousing effects of peppermint and the calming/sedative effects of chamomile observed in this study are in keeping with the claimed properties of these herbs and suggest beneficial effects can be drawn from their use."

Interestingly, the researchers also found that sniffing rosemary could help improve memory in older people by 15 percent. In a similar set-up as the tea experiment, the researchers randomly allocated 150 elderly volunteers to rooms with either a rosemary aroma, a lavender aroma, or no scent at all.

Then, the participants were given a memory challenge, and those who were placed in the room with the rosemary scent performed better than those who were placed in other rooms.

“My working hypothesis is that when you inhale rosemary its compounds are absorbed in the blood through the lungs and then are sent to the brain where they can actually act on your brain chemistry,” Moss said, according to The Telegraph.

Although the researchers made no promises that drinking peppermint tea or sniffing rosemary will show significant memory improvements for everyone, they say — at least for older people — it could mean the difference between remembering to take medications or not.

The research was presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Nottingham.

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