Although rosemary is native to the Mediterranean, it now grows throughout much of the temperate regions in Europe and America.
Part of rosemary’s popularity came from the widespread belief that rosemary stimulated and strengthened the memory.
Rosemary oil was first extracted in the 14th century, and in the 16th and 17th centuries, rosemary became popular as a digestive aid in apothecaries. Recently, as modern research focuses on the beneficial active components in rosemary, our appreciation for this herb’s therapeutic as well as culinary value has been renewed.
Rosemary grows as a small evergreen shrub belonging to the Labiatae family that is related to mint. Its leaves look like flat pine-tree needles, deep green in color on top while silver-white on their underside and produced pink, blue, or purple flowers. The word “rosemary” comes from the Latin words ros (meaning “dew”) and marinus (meaning “sea”).
It is used in many culinary dishes and is commonly used to flavor soups, sauces, and meats. In addition to being used in cooking, it has also been used as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments over the centuries. Studies have found that our ancestors weren’t wrong in using it medicinally.
Rosemary is a good source of vitamin A, calcium and potassium.
For an in-depth nutritional profile of fresh rosemary, click here: Rosemary
There are numerous researches done on the health benefits of Rosemary, here are just a few of them.
Anti-Aging – Rosemary is a popular ingredient in anti-aging skin creams because it helps reduce puffiness, stimulates cell regeneration, increases firmness, and improves overall skin tone. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and increases blood flow to the skin.
Antibacterial – Studies have found that rosemary has powerful antibacterial properties against H. pylori (the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers) and Staph infections.
Anti-Inflammatory – Rosemary contains two potent anti-inflammatory acids, carnosic and carnosol. One study found that these two compounds inhibited COX-2, an enzyme that causes pain and inflammation in the body. They also inhibited the production of excess nitric oxide, which also plays a role in the inflammatory process.
Better Circulation – Essential oil of rosemary is often applied topically as a natural remedy for poor circulation, though there have been no studies to prove this effect.
Cancer Prevention – Rosemary contains carnosol which has been found in studies to be a potent anti-cancer compound. Researchers have had promising results in studies of its efficacy against breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, and skin cancer.
Digestive Health – Rosemary is often used to help treat digestive problems such as upset stomach, constipation, indigestion, and almost any other digestive related problem. It also helps to prevent food-borne illnesses when ingested with foods such as meat or eggs.
Diuretic Properties – Rosemary is a mild diuretic, which means that it can help get rid of bloating and water retention in the body. When rosemary is used regularly, it may help in the increase of urine flow and help the kidneys function at optimal levels to help get rid of excess water in the body.
Fresh Breath – Rosemary can be used as a natural mouthwash and is said to work very well. To make the mouthwash, soak fresh rosemary in a pint of heated water, then strain it and use it as a mouth rinse as often as you like. It will keep in the fridge if covered.
Immune Booster – Rosemary boosts the immune system thanks to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties. Because it is healing in so many ways, it boosts the overall health of the body.
Improved Memory – Rosemary has long been believed to have memory-enhancing properties. In 1529, an herbal book recommended taking rosemary for “weakness of the brain.” Today, research has found that rosemary contains carnosic acid that has neuro-protective properties that researchers believe may protect against Alzheimer’s disease as well as the normal memory loss that happens with aging. Remarkably, even the smell of rosemary has been found to improve memory.
Liver Detoxification – Rosemary has been used to treat liver problems for hundreds of years. Hippocrates prescribed it for this purpose. One study found that rosemary extract reduces cirrhosis in rats given thioacetamide, a toxic compound that is toxic to the liver. It also prevented liver damage from tetrachloride in rats and mice.
Migraine Help – Rosemary has been a popular natural migraine remedy for centuries. Boil some rosemary in a large pot of water and pour it into a bowl. Place a towel over your head and lean over the pot to inhale the steam for about 10 minutes.
Mood Elevator – Tests proved that smelling rosemary improved subjects’ quality of memory also found that their mood was significantly improved.
Pain Relief – It not only helps relieve the pain of migraines, but essential oil of rosemary can also be applied topically as a natural treatment for arthritis and other joint and muscle pains.
Respiratory Health – Rosemary is a great natural remedy for respiratory problems. Breathing in the scent of the essential oil may help with congestion due to colds, allergies, respiratory infections, and the flu. You may also boil fresh rosemary in a pot of water, place it in a bowl, and breathe in the steam to help clear the lungs and throat. This will also help with any sinus or head pain associated with respiratory conditions.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
Whenever possible, choose fresh rosemary over the dried form of the herb since it is far superior in flavor. The springs of fresh rosemary should be free from yellow or dark spots.
When purchasing dried rosemary, try to select organically grown herbs since this will give you more assurance that the herbs contain no pesticide residues and have not been irradiated.
Fresh rosemary should be stored in the refrigerator either in its original packaging or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. You can also place the rosemary sprigs in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews.
Dried rosemary should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months.
TIPS FOR PREPARING
Quickly rinse rosemary under cool running water and pat dry. Most recipes call for rosemary leaves, which can be easily removed from the stem. Alternatively, you can add the whole sprig to season soups, stews and meat dishes, and then simply remove it before serving.
HOW TO ENJOY
Rosemary is a wonderful herb for seasoning many dishes.
- Add fresh rosemary to potatoes.
- Add rosemary to tomato sauces and soups.
- Include in salad dressings.
- Purée fresh rosemary leaves with olive oil and use as a dipping sauce for bread.
For the most part, rosemary is considered safe with no side effects. However, pregnant women should avoid consuming large amounts of rosemary because it may lead to uterine contractions and miscarriage. People with high blood pressure should not take rosemary because it may raise blood pressure.
- al-Sereiti MR, Abu-Amer KM, Sen P. Pharmacology of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.) and its therapeutic potentials. Indian J Exp Biol 1999 Feb;37(2):124-30. 1999.
- Calucci L, Pinzino C, Zandomeneghi M et al. Effects of gamma-irradiation on the free radical and antioxidant contents in nine aromatic herbs and spices. J Agric Food Chem 2003 Feb 12; 51(4):927-34. 2003.
- Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California. 1983.
- Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.
- Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York. 1996.
- Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Dover Publications, New York. 1971.
- Kelm MA, Nair MG, Strasburg GM, DeWitt DL. Antioxidant and cyclooxygenase inhibitory phenolic compounds from Ocimum sanctum Linn. Phytomedicine 2000 Mar;7(1):7-13. 2000. PMID:12240.
- Malencic D, Gasic O, Popovic M, Boza P. Screening for antioxidant properties of Salvia reflexa hornem. Phytother Res 2000 Nov;14(7):546-8. 2000. PMID:12230.
- Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID:15220.