Rosemary

Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a fragrant herb in the mint family (Lamiaceae). Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary 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.

FAMILY

Lamiaceae

PARTS USED

Leaves

HABITAT

Mediterranean region

MEDICINAL USE OF ROSEMARY

Both the herb and the essential oil have many medicinal uses. They are 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.

Here is a highly comprehensive and well-researched article about rosemary oil for treating hair loss.

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.

CULINARY USE

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 the leaves to omelets and frittatas, seasoning chicken and lamb dishes, adding it to tomato sauces and soups and purees.

CONTRA-INDICATIONS

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.

AROMATHERAPY

Rosemary essential oil is obtained by the process of steam distillation of rosemary leaves.

Rosemary essential oil chemotype Cineol

Properties:

  • Slightly increases blood pressure
  • Expectorant
  • Antibacterial (particularly Staphylococcus. aureus)
  • Antifungal (particularly Candida albicans)
  • Diuretic
  • Nerve tonic
  • Improves memory and concentration

Indications:

  • Chronic and acute Bronchitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low energy
  • Liver insufficiency, cirrhosis, hepatitis
  • Gallbladder stones
  • Neuralgia, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Muscle and joint pain

Smelling rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level which help reduce anxiety.

Rosemary essential oil can be:

  • Added to creams and lotions
  • Added to shampoos and conditioners
  • Applied directly on the scalp
  • Added to massage oil
  • Diffused in a room

 

What is rosemary good for

References
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Bühring, U. Girsch, M. 2016. Praxis Heilpflanzenkunde. Stuttgart: Haug.
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Hoffmann, D. 1990. The New Holistic Herbal. 3rd ed. Shaftesbury: Element Books Limited
Wichtl M. 2004. Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals – A handbook for practice on a scientific basis. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: medpharm Scientific Publishers.
Gladstar, R. 2001. Herbal Recipes For Vibrant Health. North Adams: Storey Publishing
Winston, D. Maimes, S. 2007. Adaptogens: Herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester: Healing Arts Press
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Larkcom, J. 2002. Grow your own vegetables. London: Frances Lincoln
Werner, M. Von Braunschweig, R. 2016. Praxis Aromatherapie. 5th ed. Stuttgart: Haug
Zeh, K. 2004. Handbuch Ätherische Öle. 7th edition. Oy-Mittleberg: Joy.

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