The Health Potential of Rosemary

Rosemary is a popular herb most commonly used in cooking to add flavor to food.

Rosemary, or Rosmarinus officianalis, grows natively in the sunny and warm climates of Asia and the Mediterranean. Its fragrant evergreen needles come in a variety of colors, including purple, blue, pink, or white.

Rosemary leaves are often used as a seasoning for food, especially in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. Since the leaves are aromatic and sweet, it can also be added to flavor meats and soups. Use whole sprigs of rosemary for seasoning poultry, as in this roasted chicken recipe. The herb is also a great addition to side dishes such as this rosemary-lemon cauliflower recipe.

While its culinary potential knows no bounds, what’s not so commonly known is that rosemary also has many health benefits.

Aromatherapy

Sometimes all you need to de-stress is a soothing scent. Rosemary oil is often used in aromatherapy, and this rosemary and spearmint tincture works well to help clear your mind.

One study of 20 adults found that inhaling rosemary oil can also increase brain wave activities, decrease drowsiness, and even improve your mood.

Other research indicates that rosemary leaf extract might be able to treat and prevent dementia, and improve cognitive function among older people.

Cancer

In addition to the benefits rosemary has on your mental state of mind, it can also fight serious physical problems too. According to one study done on mice, rosemary could possibly be used in skin cancer treatments to help reduce the spread of cancer cells. The study found that application of a rosemary extract helped block some skin tumor cells.

Rosemary extracts have also been found to inhibit the growth of some cancer cells, such as the cells in lung carcinoma. Another study revealed that rosemary works as an antioxidant by protecting healthy cells.

Alopecia

Alopecia is a disease that causes hair loss and can be uncomfortable for many people. However, rosemary has been shown in some instances to help treat the disease. In one study, 43 people with alopecia massaged their scalps with essential oils of rosemary, thyme, lavender, and cedarwood daily for seven months. Almost half of them saw hair growth. Researchers concluded that these essential oils are a safe and effective treatment for alopecia.

Precautions

Medicinal use of rosemary is gaining more traction worldwide. Germany’s version of the FDA, the German Commission E, approves the use of rosemary oil to treat joint pain and circulation problems. They also approve the use of rosemary leaves to help treat various digestive issues. 

While rosemary can be beneficial to your health, it’s not for everyone to use. The herb should only be taken in small doses. Avoid rosemary if you’re pregnant or nursing, as it can be an abortifacient. Patients with high blood pressure should also avoid taking rosemary as a supplement. 

You should always consult with your doctor before trying any new supplements or treatments. Check to see if rosemary oils will interfere with your diabetes or blood thinner medication.  If your doctor gives you the all clear to use rosemary, eat or smell the herb for good health.