Rosemary is one of my all-time favorite herbs. I absolutely love the pine-like scent and the spicy taste. In modern times, rosemary is primarily used for culinary purpose, but historically, this wonderful herb was also used for medicinal purposes.
Traditional Uses of Rosemary
Culinary: Rosemary belongs to the lamiaceae family, which also includes lavender, sage, mint, basil, and thyme. Rosemary has small evergreen leaves that are used fresh or dried, as a seasoning, in order to enhance the flavor of food. It is native to the Mediterranean region, and as such, is quite common in the traditional dishes of Portugal and France.
Medicinal: Rosemary has a long history of use in the healing arts. This is because this herb has antibacterial, antidiabetic/blood sugar–lowering, and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its analgesic, antioxidant, and antitumor effects. In fact, the ancient Greeks used rosemary to stimulate brain and memory function. Rosemary has also been used to topically treat wounds and rashes, and used internally as a tincture to treat headaches.
Rosemary contains trace amounts of fiber, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, folate, and vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B3, and vitamin B6. However, the real power comes from in phenolic compounds and terpenes. Rosemary has strong antioxidant properties, which are useful for medicinal purposes. Below are some of the health benefits associated with these different compounds:
- Antitumor: two of the terpenes in rosemary have exhibited antitumor activity in human cancer cells in vitro.
- Antibacterial: of all of the herbs in the lamiaceae family, rosemary exhibits the most potent anti-infectious activity, supported by studies showing strong activity fighting bacteria.
- Anti-inflammatory and analgesic: exhibited in studies on rosemary’s polyphenols and terpenes on inflammatory proteins interleukin 1 beta, interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and cyclooxygenase 1 and 2, among others.
- Cognitive health: One small study of 28 older adults using dried rosemary leaf powder showed that the smallest tested dose of 750mg had statistically significantly better cognition outcomes in memory tests.
Rosemary is recognized as quite safe, with one exception. Digestion of undiluted rosemary essential oil can cause adverse effects. Potential negative effects at high doses include seizures, potential kidney damage, uterine bleeding, gastroenteritis, and vomiting.
Rosemary is a wonderful culinary herb that adds flavor to recipes, as well as a potentially powerful medicinal herb with numerous health benefits. As with all supplements and food, the dose is important