Rosemary Benefits: Rosemary Isn’t Just For Remembrance
Rosemary Plant Uses Include Anxiety Relief, Improved Memory, and Home Remedies for Colds and Flu
By Millie Troth, Colorado Rosemary benefits go way beyond just the traditional “rosemary for remembrance.” Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae or Labiatae, which also includes many other herbs. The name rosemary derives from the Latin name rosmarinus, which is from “dew” (ros) and “sea” (marinus), or “dew of the sea” because in many locations it needs no other water than the humidity carried by the sea breeze to live.
It was said to be draped around Aphrodite when she rose from the sea and was originally born of Ouranos‘s semen. Today, the goddess Aphrodite is associated with rosemary, as is the Virgin Mary, who was supposed to have spread her cloak over a white-blossomed rosemary bush when she was resting; according to legend, the flowers turned blue, the color most associated with Mary.
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Rosemary has a very old reputation for improving memory, and has been used as a symbol for remembrance (during weddings, war commemorations and funerals) in Europe and Australia. Mourners would throw it into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” (Hamlet, iv. 5.) 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.
The results of a study suggest that rosemary benefits include shielding the brain from free radicals, lowering the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and is anti-inflammatory. It is also a promising cancer chemopreventive and anti-cancer agent. Other rosemary benefits may include some anticarcinogenic properties. A study where a powdered form of rosemary was given to rats in a measured amount for two weeks showed a reduction in the binding of a certain carcinogen by 76%, and greatly reduced the formation of mammary tumors.
(Rosmarinus officinalis CT Cineole)
Botanical family: Labiatae (Mint)
Plant origin: Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, France, USA
Extraction method: Steam distilled from leaves
1,8-Cineole (Eucalyptol) (38-55%)
Rosemary Benefits: Historical Data
Rosemary was part of the “Marseilles Vinegar” or “Four Thieves Vinegar” used by grave-robbing bandits to protect themselves during the 15th-century plague. The rosemary plant was regarded as sacred by many civilizations. It was used as a fumigant to help drive away evil spirits, and to protect against plague and infectious illness. Since the time of ancient Greece (about 1,000 B.C.) rosemary was burned as incense. Later cultures believed that rosemary benefits included warding off of devils, a practice that eventually became adopted by the sick, who then burned rosemary to protect against infection.
It was listed in Hildegard’s Medicine, a compilation of early German medicines by highly regarded Benedictine herbalist Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). Until recently, French hospitals used rosemary to disinfect the air.
Medical properties and rosemary benefits include: Liver-protecting, antitumoral, antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, enhances mental clarity/concentration. Arthritis, blood pressure (low), bronchitis, cellulite, cholera, colds, dandruff, depression (nervous), diabetes, fluid retention, fatigue (nervous/mental), flu, hair loss, headache, hepatitis (viral), menstrual periods (irregular), sinusitis, tachycardia, vaginitis.
Other possible uses: Infectious disease, liver conditions/hepatitis, throat/lung infections, hair loss (alopecia areata), herbal stress relief, impaired memory/Alzheimer’s. This oil may help arteriosclerosis, bronchitis, chills, colds, colitis, cystitis, dyspepsia, nervous exhaustion, oily hair, immune system (stimulate), otitis, palpitations, prevent respiratory infections, sinusitis, sour stomach, stress-related illness. Note: This chemotype is said to be best used for pulmonary congestion, slow elimination, candida, chronic fatigue, and infections (especially staph and strep).
Fragrant Influence: Helps overcome mental fatigue and improves mental clarity and focus. University of Miami scientists found that inhaling rosemary boosted alertness, eased anxiety, and amplified analytic and mental ability.
Body system(s) affected: Immune, Respiratory, and Nervous Systems.
Application: Dilute 1 part rosemary essential oil with 1 part pure vegetable oil: (1) apply 2-4 drops on location, (2) apply on charkas and/or Vita Flex points (3) inhale directly, (4) diffuse, or (5) take as a dietary supplement.
Safety data: Avoid during pregnancy. Not for use by people with epilepsy. Avoid if dealing with high blood pressure.
Blends with: Basil, cedarwood, frankincense, lavender, peppermint, rosewood, eucalyptus, marjoram, pine.
Rosemary Benefits: Selected Research
Diego MA, et al. Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. Int J Neurosci, 1998; 96(3-4):217-24
Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P. Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults. Int J Neurosci, 2003 Jan;113(1):15-38.
Fahim FA, et al. Allied studies on the effect of Rosmarinaus officinalis L. on experimental hepatotoxicity of mutagenesis. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 1999 Nov;50(6): 413-27.
Tantaoui-Elaraki A, Beraoud L. Inhibition of growth and aflatoxin production in Aspergillus parasiticus by essential oils of selected plant materials. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 1994;13(1):67-72.
• Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a wonderful smelling, multi-purpose herb; the leaves of which have been used in traditional cures for centuries. The herb stimulates hair growth and makes hair smell delightful. Rosemary is said to enhance the memory by improving blood circulation.
• One of the properties of rosemary is to lift the spirits and it is useful in cases of depression. Add 15 drops rosemary oil to a cup of Epsom salts, to act as an emulsifier, and then add to a warm bath as the water is filling the tub, to ease muscular tension, improve circulation and boost the spirits.
• The herb is useful in cases of poor digestion, gall bladder inflammation and general feelings of being liverish.
• Rosemary is useful as a gargle for sore throats.
• Homemade shampoos can help speed hair growth. Hair loss is a natural part of aging, but healing herbs can restore healthy hair. Natural shampoos using top-quality essential oils allow herbs to be absorbed directly into the hair and the scalp, and encourage hair to grow. Homemade shampoos have the added advantage of preventing the application of damaging chemical agents that are added to many commercial shampoos, which cause damage to hair.
Rosemary Benefits: Homemade Shampoos Made with Rosemary
Numerous natural herbal remedies have been shown to stimulate the growth of hair. To add essential oils, purchase authentic therapeutic-grade, alcohol-free oils. Add one teaspoon to the soap base.
Rosemary benefits include a stimulating action on hair follicles, and it has been used as a hair tonic in folk medicine for centuries. Because hair growth begins in the follicles, adding rosemary to a homemade shampoo will stimulate the growth and regrowth of hair.
Using essential oils like rosemary and lavender together you can make homemade shampoos that might help restore hair growth and are inexpensive to make. (Lavender uses also include stimulating hair growth!) Use a mild but cleansing soap base. Castile soap is a good option, as it is mild, but will effectively remove oils from the scalp and hair shaft. Keeping the scalp clean will encourage hair to grow. To stimulate hair growth, avoid any soap that has petroleum products as a base or lists chemicals on the label because these ingredients cause damage to the hair shaft and prevent hair growth. Some of the chemicals to avoid include sodium lauryl sulfate, (a known carcinogen), paraben, methylparaben, propylene glycol (antifreeze), cetearyl alcohol, propylparaben, glycol, polyoxyethylene, or distearate.
Storing the Shampoo
Glass is best for storing the homemade hair growth shampoo because the glass will not interact with the herbs. But for use in the shower, glass can break easily. A suggested solution is to store the shampoo in a glass jar; keep a small amount in a plastic bottle in the shower area and refresh weekly.
Refrigerating the herbal shampoo once it is mixed is best, as natural ingredients are not as stable as a commercial shampoo, and the homemade shampoo does not contain additives used to keep products stable at room temperature.
Here’s a quick little word from William L. in New York. “When I started with essential oils, I used the lavender oil that I purchased on my head every night for three weeks. My wife noticed the fuzz on the top of my head and that is what got me hooked on the oils. My second month, I bought rosemary and cedarwood, and added it to the lavender. Over 3/4 of my head is now growing hair.”
Rosemary Benefits: Other Uses for Rosemary Essential Oil
Jacquelyn K. in Montana said her lungs and sinuses became badly congested. She was very ill and was afraid that she might have pneumonia. Being chemical sensitive, she was unable to take medications. Here’s what she said she did, taking advantage of the rosemary benefits of being an antibacterial and antiviral agent:
“I had a bottle of rosemary oil so decided to heat some water, put a few drops of rosemary oil in it and lean over the steaming vapors with a towel covering my head to keep it concentrated and deeply breathing the vapors in. I did this about four times, which loosened the congestion so I was able to cough and clear it out.
“The next day, I repeated it again a time or two. After that, no more problem.”
Kendra M. in California has a completely different story. “I have had a fatty tissue deposit under each arm for decades. Because I suffer from strong body odor at times, I started using a particular blend of citrus oils combined with rosemary oil as deodorant. My left lump is completely gone and the right one is going away.”
Athlete’s foot is no longer an issue for Bob B. in New South Wales, Australia, after learning about rosemary benefits. “After having contracted a fungal infection from the showers at work, it spread to the second layer of the dermis. After consulting a reference book, I made up a blend of tea tree, peppermint & rosemary, which was quick and effective considering the severity of outbreak.”
Maggie C. in Wisconsin says she had a friend with debilitating menstrual cramps. She took advantage of the rosemary benefits of being an antispasmodic and mixed up eight drops of ginger and eight drops of rosemary diluted in two tablespoons of organic olive oil. It helped her friend tremendously. But then she said that this was a double strength version of what she uses on her two-year-old’s feet to stop his occasional nighttime foot cramps.
Diana T. from Pennsylvania knew that rosemary benefits included antibacterial properties, and used it for cleaning a wound. She said that, “After suffering a second degree burn from an airbag injury, I gently cleansed the wound with soapsuds containing a blend of antibacterial essential oils (clove, cinnamon, rosemary and Eucalyptus radiata) and applied lavender oil as needed. My skin healed remarkably well in about three weeks.”
If you have been reading any of the previous articles I’ve written about the essential oils, you already know what a huge variety of issues just one essential oil can deal with. The above testimonies prove that once again.
When the essential oil is in its purest most natural and authentic form, the body will take what it needs. If not pure and natural, the body can’t use it but instead ends up taking in even more pollutants and harmful chemicals into the body taxing the function of the liver even greater.
I have tried many, many times to express the necessity to make sure that you use only a pure authentic therapeutic-grade essential oil. However, in speaking with so many of the Countryside readers who call me, many of them seem to not have a clear understanding of this concept.
Most essential oils on the market are marked “not for internal use,” or “for external use only.” That should be clear warning to anyone right there. Even if the bottle says it is 100% pure essential oils, it rarely is that at all. Most suppliers of essential oils follow the guidelines of the Cosmetic Act, which allows them to use only 5% of the pure substance in their product and still label it as 100% pure. What makes it even worse, is the supplier does not even have to disclose to the buyer what the other 95% of the ingredients are.
To me that’s a very scary compromise that I choose not to expose my body to when I haven’t a clue what 95% of a product is that I planned on using for increasing the health of my body, or to take advantage of rosemary benefits in a natural and pure form, and is likely to actually be very harmful for my body.
If you can imagine a picture of a pyramid, or even draw one out, right now, so you can get an even clearer representation of what I’m going to share with you. Once you get the pyramid drawn out, then draw a line horizontally across it that is nearly one half the distance up the pyramid from the bottom. Then draw another line that is almost all the way to the top, leaving only a very small portion of the peak of the pyramid to represent the third spacing on it. Then in the bottom section write the word “synthetic.” In the middle portion write the words “natural but adulterated.” Then off to the side of the top portion write the words, “authentic -—less than 1% of the marketable essential oils.” This is what the unsuspecting public is dealing with when they go to purchase essential oils even at a health food store. You can’t take advantage of the wonderful rosemary benefits if you’re using anything less than 100% pure rosemary essential oil.
Are any oils “dangerous” for us? Personally, I’d have to say a definite yes if they are synthetic or adulterated with other chemicals and solvents. However, there is another question in my mind. Are any oils “inappropriate” for us, and the answer again is yes. Certain oils may be “inappropriate” for us in different situations. As you have seen from above many oils do many things and it may be that we all have to work a little harder at finding the right oil(s) that will work for our body. Not every body is the same as the next. What works for one body may or may not work for another. So even though you’ve read something in this or any other article about rosemary benefits and you would like to try it, please keep in mind there may be 10 other oils that could potentially work for you also and the best option for you is to investigate as to which is truly going to be the most “appropriate” essential oil for your purpose.
Personally, the essential oils I use I believe to be the purest, safest, most effective oils on the planet. I’ve had nothing short of miraculous results with many of them—results I never thought were possible.
The essential oils that I use are from an extremely reputable company that has become the standard to which others try to measure up to but can’t due to the lack of their knowledge and research into what truly makes an authentic, therapeutically pure essential oil. I’ve tried contacting some of these companies who claim they sell 100% pure essential oils to see if I can get documented results of their testing procedures and laboratory reports on their oils. Either I get absolutely no response from them or I’m told by a customer service representative that “they don’t know.” Another gentleman who just recently started using the same essential oils that I use has had the same results in his contacts with other companies.
The essential oils I purchase are more expensive than some other brands, but part of the reason is because the company who produces these authentic therapeutic-grade oils puts millions back into research and development. They constantly spend money for testing in their own lab, as well as in independent labs outside to guarantee and maintain purity and therapeutic grade quality. What other company invests so much and goes to such pains to “produce the highest-quality essential oils?” My guess would be from what I have experienced is—no one else!
Understand that wholesale and bulk-oil sellers sell many grades of oil. The same company may sell several levels of quality, from the cheapest perfume grades to high-quality therapeutic grades. The quality of the essential oil you use may have an impact on rosemary benefits. Perhaps they have cheaper prices because they are selling lesser grades of oils, which they may have purchased from some of the same suppliers as the company I buy from, but they are not the same quality as those demanded and verified by the company I purchase from. Using a poor grade of essential oils may compromise the rosemary benefits you are looking to use.
I am not a doctor or medical professional so I cannot by law diagnose or prescribe essential oils. Any of the products or techniques mentioned is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided is in no way intended to replace proper medical help.
Originally published in the November/December 2011 issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.