I always get a kick out of the fridge in my local 7-11. It's loaded with drinks that make all kinds of promises.
Energy is the most common one, of course, but others promise everything from "focus" to "calm" to "concentration."
It's a laugh, because no matter what promise they make, most of these drinks have the same basic ingredients: sugar, water, and artificial flavors combined with small amounts of vitamins or large amounts of caffeine.
In some cases, those vitamins can deliver on the promise made by the label -- just not in the tiny amounts you'll find in the drink. You're always better off just taking it as a supplement.
And in at least one case, you don't need to swallow a thing -- drink or supplement -- to get the benefits.
Rosemary, the fragrant herb often used in soups and meat dishes, is so good at helping you to focus that just the scent alone will do the trick.
Twenty people were given a whiff of rosemary followed by a series of cognitive tests and mood assessments. The stronger the smell, the better they did on both -- although the impact on mood was nothing compared to what it did for cognition.
Believe it or not, that's not even the surprise here. Other studies have also shown that the very smell of rosemary can give your mind an extra gear.
No, the real surprise is that blood tests revealed the presence of 1,8-cineole in the blood. That's the essential oil found in rosemary, somehow turning up in blood after inhaling the mere odor of this stuff.
The researchers say that means the aroma alone acts as a "therapeutic drug" and are already talking of how they might one day make meds out of fragrant herbs such as rosemary, peppermint, and lavender.
But why wait for meds and their inevitable side effects when you can go straight to the source?
Rosemary is available right now, for cheap, and if I was in college I'd be practically stuffing it up my nose at test time.
Might sound crazy, but a better grade is a better grade.
Since my test-taking years ended long ago, I plan to use rosemary differently -- like next time I need help finishing a Sudoku puzzle or locating missing socks.