Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a fragrant herb in the mint family (Lamiaceae) . It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a perennial woody evergreen with needle-like leaves and blue, pink, purple or white flowers.
The leaves are widely used in cooking, especially in Mediterranean cuisines. It is also used medicinally to treat many conditions. There are two possible meanings for the name Rosmarinus: “dew of the sea” from the Latin Ros “dew” and marinus “of the sea” or “fragrant shrub” from the Greek “rhops myrinos”. I personally think fragrant shrub makes more sense but no one is really sure about the real meaning of rosmarinus.
Rosemary herb and oil have many medicinal uses. It is used to improve blood circulation, protect the liver, stimulate the secretion of bile in the gallbladder, regulate appetite, reduce age-related memory loss, treat eczema, heal wounds, sooth gout, cough, toothaches, headaches and migraines. It is also used to treat the following complaints:
Indigestion – Rosemary is traditionally used in Europe as tea or tincture to treat indigestion (dyspepsia).
Poor memory and low concentration – Rosemary is often used in aromatherapy to increase concentration and memory, and to relieve stress. Studies suggest it may lower cortisol levels and reduce anxiety and improve cognition and mood.
Muscle and joint pain – When applied to the skin, rosemary oil can soothe muscle and joint pain, particularly myalgia, sciatica and intercostal neuralgia.
Alopecia – The results of studies show aromatherapy to be a safe and effective treatment for alopecia areata (a disease that causes quick hair loss). In a trial of aromatherapy, eighty-six patients were randomized into 2 groups. Group 1 massaged essential oils (thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood) in a mixture of carrier oils (jojoba and grapeseed) into their scalp daily. Group 2 used only carrier oils for their massage, also daily. After seven months, group 1 experienced significant hair regrowth compared to group 2.
Cancer – Studies suggest that rosemary extract is a potential candidate to be included in the anti-cancer diet with pre-determined doses avoiding toxicity. Rosemary, alone or combined with curcumin, may be useful to prevent and treat ER-negative breast cancer.
It is also used to increase menstrual flow, causing miscarriage.
Studies show that long-term intake of rosemary herb inhibits thrombosis in mice.
You can use it medicinally as a tea from the dry herb, a tincture, fluid extract, in a bath or as an essential oil.
Pregnant women should not take large doses of rosemary because it may cause miscarriage.
Because rosemary hasn’t been studied in children, those under 18 and lactating women should not take it as a supplement. It is safe to eat it in normal amounts in food, though.
People with high blood pressure, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis should not take rosemary because it increases blood flow, worsening the condition.
The essential oil is obtained by the process of steam distillation of rosemary leaves.
Rosemary essential oil chemotype Cineol
- Slightly increases blood pressure
- Antibacterial (particularly Staphylococcus. aureus)
- Antifungal (particularly Candida albicans)
- Nerve tonic
- Improves memory and concentration
- Chronic and acute Bronchitis
- Low blood pressure
- Low energy
- Liver insufficiency, cirrhosis, hepatitis
- Gallbladder stones
- Neuralgia, rheumatoid arthritis
- Muscle and joint pain
Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level which help reduce anxiety.
Rosemary essential oil is toxic if ingested. Never take it internally.
Pregnant women should not take rosemary essential oil because it may cause miscarriage.
Because rosemary hasn’t been studied in children, those under 18 should not take it.
Fresh or dried rosemary leaves have a bitter, astringent taste and are widely used in Italian cuisine. They pair very well with roasted potatoes, meats and vegetables lending the dishes a mustard-like aroma. Try adding rosemary to omelets and frittatas, seasoning chicken and lamb dishes, adding it to tomato sauces and soups and purees.