Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) is an evergreen plant with a unique pine-like flavor and aroma that make it a good complement for rich, earthy dishes. Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary now grows in temperate zones of Europe and America.
Historically, rosemary was used to stimulate and strengthen the memory – students in ancient Greece placed sprigs of rosemary in their hair while studying. Today, extracts of rosemary are still used in aromatherapy to increase blood flow to the brain, boost alertness and promote overall well-being. Its folk uses have focused on stimulating immunity, improving digestion, circulation and asthma, even repelling insects.
Rosemary contains compounds that have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Fresh rosemary is a good source of iron, while dried rosemary is a good source of calcium and fiber.
From a cosmetic standpoint, rosemary oil was used in the 14th century to make the first European alcohol-based perfume, formulated for Hungary’s Queen Elizabeth. Today, the oil is touted as a treatment for wrinkles, oily skin and cellulite. Oil of rosemary, once separated from the plant, should never be ingested, as it can cause significant adverse effects.
For Mental Health
Simply adding some essential oil to an essential oil diffuser can be an instant stress buster for many. Rosemary oil can take that stress relief up a level – it’s incredibly potent! A 2007 studyshowed that smelling rosemary oil actually decreased the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the saliva. Excess cortisol can cause oxidative stress, weight gain, high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease.
A studypublished in Holistic Nursing Practice in 2009 found that the use of sachets containing lavender and rosemary essential oils helped reduce the anxiety associated with test-taking. Graduate nursing students, who inhaled the scent of both lavenderand rosemary oil before taking their nursing tests, found it significantly lowered their anxiety levels. They scored lower on anxiety measures, and had lower pulse rates, indicating a more relaxed state of mind.
If you’re a little overwhelmed, unsure, indecisive or confused, you may find that the soothing aroma of rosemary helps you clear your head. Add it to an oil burner, essential oil diffuser, reed diffuser or simply rub some on your hands and cup over your mouth and nose for up to a minute. Everything will seem so much clearer. You should also feel less tense and stressed.
Learning & Memory
A little rosemary oil may stop you needing to cram the night before a big test. In addition to lowering stress and anxiety, it has also been shown to positively enhance memory. In fact, a 2003 studyshowed that the aroma of rosemary produced a significant improvement in performance, quality of memory and secondary memory factors in healthy adults. It also helped them remain more alert. A 2012 study backs up these findings – suggesting that the pungent scent can improve speed and accuracy when performing certain mental tasks. Alzheimer’s patients can benefit from rosemary’s fabulous scent too. A small study has shown that one month of aromatherapy involving rosemary, lemon, lavender and orange essential oils helped enhance cognitive function in participants, especially those suffering from this particular form of dementia. For full benefits, diffuse the oil through your room, inhale directly or rub over your temples.
For Physical Health
Rosemary oil is one of the easiest ways to improve circulation in the body. If you’re experiencing muscle cramps, cold hands and feet or muscle soreness, then massage a little rosemary oil, mixed with a carrier oil, into these areas regularly.
Help with Headaches
Rosemary oil applied to the skin treats pain and improves circulation, meaning it might just relieve your migraine or throbbing headache. Apply a drop topically to your temples or the aching parts of your head. You can also try rubbing it in your hands and cupping them over your mouth and nose for up to a minute. If your headache is stress related, then by using rosemary you will be alleviating the root cause of the pain.
Thanks to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties rosemary is an important essential oil for giving our immune systema helping hand when cold and flu season rolls round. One of the best ways to do this is with a relaxing and cleansing lymphatic massage using rosemary essential oil. Our lymphatic system helps to clear our body of waste. By massaging our lymph nodes, we can revive a sluggish system supercharging the body’s detoxifying abilities. Rosemary is one of the best essential oils around for stimulating movement and supporting the cleansing action. Dilute a few drops of rosemary oil with a carrier oil (see below) and rub up your arms to the lymph nodes in your armpits. From the center of your chest, rub toward the armpit, and then down the neck. Massage your legs from your feet up to your groin. Of course, even just relaxing in a bath with added rosemary essential oil will help the immune system by reducing stress, one of the main causes of poor immunity.
Alleviate Muscle & Joint Pain
The German Commission E– the scientific advisory board of the German version of the FDA – has approved rosemary essential oil to treat both muscle pain and arthritis. Simply apply a little oil to the aching joints or muscles and its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties will soon kick in. Rosemary essential oil can be usedexternally for relief from symptoms of indigestion. If you’re suffering with flatulence, stomach cramps, constipation or bloating give it a try. Combine it with a carrier oil and massage into the stomach. You can also try a bath with rosemary oil for the same effect. Some even say that rubbing the oil on the bottom of your feet will alleviate indigestion! These remedies are much gentler than laxatives or over the counter medications for digestive discomfort.
Cough, Cold & Flu Relief
To help relieve the symptoms of a cold or flu – stuffy nose, cough and congestion – try massaging one or two drops of the oil on your chest and throat every few hours. Its antiseptic action also makes rosemary oil useful for respiratory infections.
For Hair, Skin & Health
Rosemary oil has incredible benefits for hair and healthy hair growth, it’s a powerful remedy for many skin problems and so much more.
Thanks to its anti-fungal properties, rosemary can be used as a gentle and effective dandruff treatment. And it couldn’t be simpler – pour a few drops of the oil into your shampoo and massage in well. It’s best not to use rosemary oil undilutedon your scalp as it may cause additional flaking.
Stimulate Hair Growth
Rosemary has been used for centuries, especially in the Mediterranean region, to stimulate hair growth. One studyof 84 people who had alopecia areata, which causes hair to fall out in patches, found that those who massaged their scalps with rosemary and other essential oils daily for seven months experienced significant hair regrowth compared to those who massaged their scalps without the essential oils.
Unlike alcohol-based mouthwashes, which can be drying and upset the delicate balance of good bacteria in the mouth, a homemade essential oil wash is both gentle and effective. Rosemary’s anti-microbial properties mean it will kill off the bad bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease and will even rid you of bad breath. Mix one cup of distilled water with 20 drops of rosemary oil. If you miss the minty fresh feel of conventional mouthwashes, you could also add in some peppermint oil. Remember to shake the jar before using.
Get Rid of Cellulite
Because rosemary improves circulation which flushes out toxins, it’s an ideal oil to use to banish cellulite– those fatty dimples that are so hard to get rid of. Add two drops of rosemary essential oil and two drops of fennel essential oil to three teaspoons of a carrier oil like olive, jojoba or almond oil. Massage this daily into the problem areas. A rosemary oil lymph massage, outlined above, will also help with cellulite.
Fade Stretch Marks
Rosemary essential oil is one of the best essential oils for removing stretch marks, especially when blended with coconut oilwhich happens to be another amazing stretch mark remedy. Massage over the marks regularly until they have faded. Clear Up Acne If you suffer from pimples or acne, then you may need to add a little anti-bacterial action to your skincare routine. We know how bad commercial anti-bacterial washes are for us, but a homemade one using rosemary essential oil is both safe and super effective. Blend rosemary oil with castor oil, or another carrier oil of your choice. Massage in thoroughly and wash off with a warm washcloth. That’s it – your skin will feel soft and should clear up in no time.
In the Garden
A Natural Insecticide Avoid buying pesticides from the store. They’re bad for the environment, our health, our wallet…and they’re killing all the bees! Make an all-natural insect repellent instead by mixing 10 drops each of rosemary, peppermint, thyme and clove oil in a spray bottle filled with water. Not only does this mixture kill pests but it will also stop fungus ruining your beautiful plants. Shake before use and apply throughout the garden. It’s safe to use on your vegetable garden too!
In the Home
Mosquito Repellent Rosemary is a fantastic flowering plant, known to effectively repel mosquitosand other bugs, yet it still attracts butterflies to your garden. Mix up a batch of rosemary essential oil and distilled water and keep in a spray bottle – a simple homemade version of DEET, without all the toxic chemicals. Around 10 to 20 drops per ounce of liquid should do the trick. Just remember to shake the bottle and distribute the oil before using!
A Natural Air Freshener
You don’t want to waste your money on store-bought artificially scented air fresheners, which only exacerbate allergies and asthma and usually contain known carcinogens! Instead, freshen up your home with some rosemary essential oil. Add a few drops to some water and spray around the house or even your car (always test in an inconspicuous area before spraying liberally on fabrics).
Multi-Purpose Cleaning Spray
Rosemary oil is an amazing oil to have on hand for kitchen countertops and more thanks to its antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and antiviral properties. Mix a half cup distilled white vinegar, half cup water and 12 drops of rosemary oil. Decant into a spray bottle and use throughout your kitchen.
Keep Insects at Bay
Placing some rosemary essential oil around windows and doors will stop flies and other winged bugs from coming into your home.
Written by Susan Patterson, 2015
This article is to give you some knowledge and inspiration however, more research is needed to support some of the above claims. (Mery Zanutto)