Rosemary, also known as Rosmarinus officinalis, is an herb that is native to the Mediterranean. It belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae and is used in aromatherapy as an essential oil and is also used for hair and human health in alternative medicine. The herb is commonly added to culinary dishes to boost flavor and it’s also a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Read on to discover more about rosemary uses and how you can incorporate this herb into your daily regimen.
Rosemary Plant Basics
The rosemary plant is an evergreen herb that features needle-like leaves. It derives its name from the Latin phrase that translates to “dew of the sea”. The rosemary bush is brilliantly fragrant and features purple, pink, white, and blue flowers. The flavor of rosemary sprigs is often compared to oregano, another popular herb in culinary circles. The plant contains high concentrations of carnosic acid, which has been linked to many of the health benefits of rosemary.
The Top Rosemary Uses For Hair and Health
Eating rosemary or applying rosemary essential oil to skin may help decreases inflammation thanks to the presence of antioxidants. These antioxidants fend of free radicals by supporting the immune system, thus decreasing the risk of oxidative stress — the body’s version of rust. By decreasing inflammation, rosemary may help to alleviate pain by boosting blood circulation (1).
The anti-inflammatory properties of rosemary can also help to streamline and soothe the digestive system. The plant is approved in Germany to treat indigestion and has long been used in traditional medicine to treat bloating, gas, and stomach upset. Recent scientific evidence shows that rosemary may directly affect cellular processes in the colon and gastrointestinal tract (2).
Boost Memory and Focus
The scent of rosemary may help to boost memory recall and attention. The oil is popular in aromatherapy thanks to these invigorating and clarifying effects. Research published in Psychopharmacology examined the effects of 1,8 cineole, a key ingredient in rosemary oil in terms of cognitive performance. Researchers found that rosemary helped to boost the speed and accuracy of memory recall and had a mild uplifting effect on mood (3).
Many older adults suffer from hair loss or baldness caused by genetic conditions and hormonal changes. Disorders such as alopecia and male pattern baldness may be counteracted by using rosemary oil. Research shows that rosemary oil constituents work to protect hair follicles from damage that can lead to hair loss (4). The oil also helps to moisturize the scalp and offers antibacterial properties, helping to ease symptoms of dandruff.
A study published in SkinMed compared the effects of rosemary oil to minoxidil — a common medication prescribed to treat male pattern baldness. The study consisted of 100 patients who were given either rosemary oil or minoxidil for a period of six months. Researchers found that rosemary oil was as effective as the prescription medication in improving hair count at the conclusion of the study. Patients also reported far fewer cases of scalp itching compared to those who took the prescription (5).
Rosemary can be brewed into a delicious tea packed with health benefits. The tea can be made using fresh rosemary or dried rosemary leaves and offers a mildly minty flavor with a slightly floral fragrance.
The scent of rosemary is a natural bug repellent that can help ward off spiders and mosquitos without the use of toxic chemicals. Research published in the Journal of Economic Entomology found that rosemary oil was effective in eliminating half the population of spider mites on tomato plants (6). Additional research shows that rosemary essential oil helps to ward off mosquitos when combined with limonene and camphor (7).
Rosemary Uses For Your Life
Eating and drinking rosemary oil comes with very few side effects. The most common side effect is an allergic reaction in individuals who are sensitive to the plant. Rosemary oil can also cause skin irritation when applied directly to the skin. When using essential oils, always dilute them with a carrier oil like olive oil or jojoba oil to avoid skin irritation. Pregnant women should avoid using rosemary as it has been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage. The FDA does not approve the use of rosemary in the treatment of any ailments.
There are many uses of rosemary, rosemary extract, and rosemary oil including for aromatherapy, culinary flavoring, and improved health. Grab a few sprigs of rosemary and brew it into a tea or add a few sprigs of the fresh herb to your next meal. Alternatively, applying rosemary oil to your head may help to promote healthy hair and applying it to sore muscles can help to reduce muscle pain.