Rosemary is a popular herb most commonly used in cooking to add flavor to food. While its culinary potential knows no bounds, what’s not so commonly known is that rosemary also has many health benefits.

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Rosemary, or Rosmarinus officinalis, 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 cuisines. Since the leaves are aromatic and sweet, they can also be added to flavor meats and soups.

Rosemary may offer a few health benefits. But research is limited at this time, and most studies focus on the use of high dose extracts and rosemary essential oil, which is completely different from the rosemary that you consume in dishes like roast chicken and potatoes.

Therapeutic compounds

Rosemary extract exhibits antioxidative and antimicrobial properties due to the plant’s chemical constituents. These compounds are classified as phenolic acids, flavonoids, and diterpenoids.

As a natural food additive, rosemary is used to prevent oxidation and contamination in meat and certain oils, namely beef and pork. One 2018 study suggests that rosemary may be a useful replacement for synthetic food and beverage antioxidants, owing to its ability to delay spoilage.

The researchers in the same study explain that the therapeutic use of rosemary for food preservation depends on the extraction method and concentration of compounds.


Studies have shown that using rosemary essential oil as an aromatherapy treatment could be helpful for improving exam performance in students and cognitive performance in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

When used as part of aromatherapy massage treatment, it may also help improve nerve pain and improve quality of life in people with diabetes.

Although these results are encouraging, more research is needed to fully understand how rosemary aromatherapy may benefit health.

May have cognitive benefits

Some studies suggest that ingesting rosemary may benefit cognitive health. For example, a 2018 study found that drinking water containing rosemary extract had beneficial effects on cognitive performance in healthy adults.

One older 2013 study indicates that rosemary leaf extract might be able to treat and prevent dementia. Another older study from 2012 indicated that rosemary might improve cognitive function among older people.

These findings suggest that rosemary may enhance cognitive performance, but more research is needed to investigate this potential link.

May improve mood and sleep in some people

Limited evidence suggests that high dose rosemary supplements may help improve mood and sleep quality in healthy adults.

A small 2017 study demonstrated that taking a 1,000-mg dose of rosemary daily for 1 month helped reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improved sleep quality in university students compared with a placebo treatment.

While eating rosemary and using rosemary essential oil as aromatherapy is safe and may offer a few health benefits, you shouldn’t take high dose rosemary supplements or essential oil without speaking with a doctor or healthcare professional beforehand.

Rosemary supplements have the potential to cause side effects and interact with certain medications. If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or chestfeeding, have a medical condition, or are taking one or more medications, avoid rosemary supplements unless specifically suggested by a qualified healthcare professional.

Though culinary use of rosemary is safe, you should always consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new supplements or treatments.