Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK.
Members of the Sage family, such as Salvia officinalis and Salvia lavandulaefolia, have a long history of use as memory-enhancing agents coupled with cholinergic properties that may potentially be relevant to the amelioration of the cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer's disease. The current study utilised a placebo-controlled, double-blind, balanced, crossover design in order to comprehensively assess any mood and cognition modulation by S. lavandulaefolia. Twenty-four participants received single doses of placebo, 25 microl and 50 microl of a standardised essential oil of S. lavandulaefolia in an order dictated by a Latin square. Doses were separated by a 7-day washout period. Cognitive performance was assessed prior to the day's treatment and at 1, 2.5, 4 and 6 h thereafter using the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) computerised test battery. Subjective mood ratings were measured using Bond-Lader visual analogue scales. The primary outcome measures were scores on the five cognitive factors that can be derived by factor analysis of the task outcomes from the CDR battery. The results showed that administration of S. lavandulaefolia resulted in a consistent improvement for both the 25- and 50-microl dose on the 'Speed of Memory' factor. There was also an improvement on the 'Secondary Memory' factor for the 25-microl dose. Mood was consistently enhanced, with increases in self-rated 'alertness', 'calmness' and 'contentedness' following the 50-microl dose and elevated 'calmness' following 25 microl. These results represent further evidence that Salvia is capable of acute modulation of mood and cognition in healthy young adults. The data also suggest that previous reports of memory enhancement by Salvia may be due to more efficient retrieval of target material.