Botanical: Rosmarinus officinalis
Family: Labiatae/Lamiaceae (mint)
Other common names: Compass Weed, Old Man, Dew of the Sea, Poplar Plant, Compass Plant, Incensor
"Rosemary helpeth the brain, strengtheneth the memorie,
and is very medicinable for the head."
Doctor of Divinity (c. 1607)
Rosemary has an old reputation for strengthening the memory and sharpening the senses (including vision). Long used to stimulate circulation to virtually all parts of the body, it also helps to enhance good digestion, eases pain and nervous anxiety, and may even help restore the look and glow of youth.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Rosemary is a tender, aromatic evergreen that is highly ornamental and may be trained into topiary shapes. It is a perennial shrub that generally grows from three to six feet in height, with new varieties reaching eight feet, and it thrives in light, well-drained, neutral-to-alkaline soil in sun, but does require shelter in cold areas. Since it is attractive and tolerates some degree of drought, it is also used in landscaping, especially in areas having a Mediterranean climate. It can, in fact, die in over-watered soil, but is otherwise quite easy to grow for beginner gardeners, and it is very pest-resistant. Its botanical genus, Rosmarinus, is derived from the Latin, ros, meaning "dew" and marinus, meaning "of the sea," since it was found in abundance near seashores. Rosemary has been used since ancient times as a symbol of friendship, loyalty and remembrance, and it was traditionally carried by mourners at funerals and brides during their weddings. Greek scholars wore garlands of Rosemary when taking examinations to improve their memory and concentration, a use echoed to this day. In the thirteenth century, Queen Elisabeth of Hungary claimed that at seventy-two years of age and crippled with gout and rheumatism, she had regained her beauty and strength by using Hungary Water (Rosemary), and the King of Poland even proposed marriage to her! The Spanish revered Rosemary as the bush that sheltered the Virgin Mary on her flight to Egypt, and as she spread her cloak over the herb, the white flowers turned blue. In times past, the resinous herb was burned in sick chambers to purify the air and was placed in law courts as a protection from "jail fever" (typhus), and during the Plague of 1665, Rosemary was carried and sniffed in suspicious areas to protect against plague. Reinforcing those antiseptic uses, a mixture of Rosemary and Juniper was burned during World War II in French hospitals to kill germs. The herb has long been used as a digestive aid and condiment and is a popular flavoring in soups, stews, and in meat preparation and preservation. It also flavors such liqueurs as Benedictine and Danziger Goldwasser. Some of the constituents included in Rosemary are high levels of volatile oils (borneol, camphor, cineole, linalol, verbenol), flavonoids (apigenin, diosmin, luteolin) and phenolic acids (the polyphenol antioxidant rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid), plus alpha-pinene, beta-carotene, a camphor compound, resin, betulinic acid, caffeic acid, ursolic acid, geraniol, hesperidin, rosmanol, rosmaridiphenol, salicylates, tannin, thymol, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, B-vitamins and vitamin C. Rosemary, in the dried form, is extremely high in iron, calcium and vitamin B6; it is, in fact, more nutrient-rich in its dry form than fresh Rosemary by a large margin.
Rosemary is an excellent memory and brain stimulant that is said to improve brain function by feeding it with oxygen-rich blood. It also contains compounds that are said to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that allows the nerve cells responsible for memory and reasoning to communicate with one another. One modern study lends some credence to this reputation. When the smell of Rosemary was pumped into cubicles where people were working, those people showed improved memory. As Shakespeare's Ophelia spoke to Hamlet, " There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”
Studies suggest that the potent antioxidant carnosic acid content found in Rosemary may shield the brain from free radicals, potentially lowering the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's.
Pursuant to antioxidant activity, Rosemary is believed to fight free radicals and may show potential against malignant disease and anti-tumor activity. The herb is said to possess strong antioxidant qualities that prevent chemicals, which cause malignant disease, from binding and causing mutations in celluar DNA (particularly in liver and bronchial cells).
Rosemary is an excellent stimulant for the circulatory system that not only improves brain function, but has also been used to treat disorders characterized by chronic circulatory weakness, such as high and low blood pressure, varicose veins, bruises and sprains. The flavonoid, diosmin, in Rosemary is reputedly more effective than rutin in reducing capillary fragility, enhancing a stronger flow of blood.
As an effective aid to good digestion and herbal relaxant, Rosemary gives strength and tone to the stomach, helps to stimulate digestion and relaxes the smooth muscle of the digestive tract, which helps to calm upset stomach, ease intestinal cramps and spasms, alleviate flatulence, dyspepsia, and relieve bloated feelings. It is also said to stimulate the release of bile, aiding the digestion of dietary fat. Rosemary is thought to be particularly helpful in treating indigestion caused by anxiety.
Rosemary calms and soothes the nerves, relaxes muscles, eases pain and reduces tension and anxiety throughout the body. It has thus been very helpful in treating headache, migraines (particularly when related to stress), depression, nervous exhaustion and apathy. The herb is said to also be effective in alleviating the pain of neuritis, neuralgia, tendonitis, rheumatism, aching joints and overall muscle pain and spasms.
As an herbal antiseptic, Rosemary cleanses the blood and helps to control many pathogenic organisms. It is potent enough to help kill bacterial infections but not so potent, however, to completely wipe out the natural bacterial population of the digestive tract that keep the intestines in healthy balance. Its diuretic action increases the flow of urine that flushes bacteria from the body before they have chance to cause infection. Rosemary has shown some promise in treating toxic shock syndrome, and used externally, Rosemary's antiseptic qualities make it a fine antiseptic gargle and mouthwash and cleanser for wounds. Interestingly, in 1987, researchers at Rutgers State University in New Jersey even patented a chemical derived from Rosemary that had preservative qualities more powerful and safer than the common food additives BHA and BHT that helps to prevent food poisoning.
Rosemary's fungicidal properties have been effective in killing yeast infections, such as Candida albicans.
Rosemary is said to be an emmenagogue, which promotes menstruation and regulates its flow, treating low or excessive bleeding. It also thought to ease menstrual cramps and pain in the uterus.
Because Rosemary stimulates and improves circulation throughout the body, it increases the blood supply to the skin, which is thought to help restore a youthful glow; and used externally, it is believed to stimulate hair bulbs and prevent baldness.
Pregnant women should not use Rosemary Herbal Supplement in therapeutic doses, as it is a uterine stimulant, and it should never be used continuously by women with heavy menstrual flow. Rosemary should not be used in excessive amounts (many times the recommended dosage), as it may produce convulsions. Rosemary should not be taken by those who suffer with seizure disorders or epilepsy.
Some people may be allergic to Rosemary and other members of the mint family (sage, thyme, basil, etc.).