The herb rosemary has been hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Rosemary essential oil, derived from the common cooking herb, has long been popular in folk medicine and is now proving beneficial in scientific studies.Rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth.
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Rosemary is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs. A fragrant evergreen herb, it is native to the Mediterranean and a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, along with many other herbs, such as oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender. It is typically prepared as a whole dried herb or a dried powdered extract, while teas and liquid extracts are made from fresh or dried leaves. It is used as a culinary condiment, to make bodily perfumes, and for its potential health benefits.
It has innumerable uses in both the kitchen and in herbal medicine. The herb not only tastes good in culinary dishes, such as rosemary chicken and lamb, but it is also a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6. Both the leaves and flowers of rosemary have been used medicinally for thousands of years to improve memory.
Rosemary protects the brain (and your memory) in a variety of ways to minimize damage and slow down the rate of brain cell aging. It increases blood flow to the brain, which in turn supplies the brain with more oxygen and nutrients.
Rosemary contains carnosic acid, which fights off free radical damage to the brain as well as natural acids that help protect the body’s cells and DNA from free radical damage. The compounds in rosemary are said to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a chemical that induces the brain cells responsible for memory and reasoning to communicate with one another. Some studies in rats have identified that rosemary might be useful for people who have experienced a stroke. Rosemary appears to be protective against brain damage and might improve recovery.
Rosemary to Enhance Your Memory
According to research outlined in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, the aroma from rosemary can improve a person’s concentration, performance, speed, and accuracy and, to a lesser extent, their mood. There are several ways to start boosting memory with rosemary. One easy way is to place three to four drops of rosemary essential oil on a tissue and enjoy as the smell wafts through the air.
A study conducted on rosemary where groups of people were given rosemary essential oil. A total of 66 people participated in the study. They were randomly assigned to two rooms, one scented with rosemary and the other unscented. The results were remarkable: in the group of people in the rosemary-scented room memory was 60 – 75% better when compared to the people who were in the unscented room!
When nursing students breathed rosemary oil from an inhaler before and during test time, their pulse decreased by about 9% — while no significant change occurred without rosemary oil.
Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds
Preliminary evidence suggests that rosemary oil may help reduce tissue inflammation that can lead to swelling, pain and stiffness. Laboratory studies have shown Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. It may do so by stemming the migration of white blood cells to injured tissues to release inflammatory chemicals. Adding the herb to food and/or diffusing the essential oil can play an important role in neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals., reducing anti-inflammatory effects and enhance Arthritis treatment.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which your body’s own immune system attacks tissues, such as knees and other joints, injuring the joint lining and causing inflammatio. When people with rheumatoid arthritis were given 15-minute knee massages using a rosemary oil blend three times weekly, they had a 50% decrease in inflammatory knee pain in two weeks, compared to a 12% decrease in those not given the oil.
In a two-week study, stroke survivors with shoulder pain who received a rosemary oil blend with acupressure for 20 minutes twice daily experienced a 30% reduction in pain. Those who received only acupressure had a 15% reduction in pain
Many factors can cause stress —inhaling rosemary oil may help reduce anxiety. When 22 young adults sniffed rosemary oil for five minutes, their saliva had 23% lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those who smelled a non-aromatic compound. Because increased pulse rates reflect short-term stress and anxiety, rosemary oil may naturally reduce stress.
Poor circulation is a common complaint. You may notice it most in your hands and feet. If you experience cold fingers and toes — even in relatively warm temperatures — rosemary oil is worth considering.
If you have Raynaud’s disease, blood vessels in your fingers and toes constrict when you’re cold or stressed, causing them to lose their color and turn cold. Rosemary oil may help by expanding your blood vessels, thereby warming your blood so that it reaches your fingers and toes more easily.
In one study, a woman with Raynaud’s disease massaged her hands with a rosemary oil blend, finding that it helped warm her fingers more than a neutral oil. These effects were confirmed by thermal imaging. More research is needed to confirm these effects — but rosemary may prove a worthwhile, low-cost experiment.
May Help Perk You Up
Some studies suggest that rosemary oil may boost attention, alertness, energy and mood. Rosemary oil is commonly used for mental strain and fatigue in folk medicine.
When 20 healthy young adults inhaled rosemary oil, they reported feeling about 30% more mentally refreshed and about 25% less drowsy compared to smelling a placebo oil. This increase in alertness corresponded to changes in brain waves and increases in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure.
Applying diluted rosemary oil to your skin may provide similar benefits, as it can reach your brain via this route. In one study, applying diluted rosemary oil to the skin caused 35 healthy people to feel significantly more attentive, alert, energetic and cheerful after 20 minutes than when using a placebo oil.
Liver and digestive health
Rosemary is often used to soothe the stomach and relieve pain from indigestion and even menstrual cramps. Animal studies indicate that rosemary oil may stimulate the release of bile, which is important in fat digestion, and activate your own antioxidant defense mechanisms to protect your liver.
Rosemary oil can help inhibit the growth of certain strains of bacteria that cause food poisoning. This requires using precise, very small amounts of food-grade oil. Don’t experiment with this at home
Administering rosemary oil orally is not recommended. Essential oils should not be swallowed.
Rosemary Essential Oil is easy to use
Rosemary oil can be inhaled or applied topically. It’s very concentrated, so you should only use a few drops at a time.
Although some manufacturers claim it’s safe to swallow or consume their essential oils, there isn’t scientific evidence supporting this — especially over the long term. Essential oils should never be swallowed.
Inhaling rosemary oil
The simplest way to inhale rosemary oil is to open the bottle and breathe in. Alternately, you can place a few drops on a cloth or tissue and hold it near your face.
I like to use an aromatherapy diffuser, which distributes the essential oil into the surrounding air.
In general, avoid placing a diffuser close to babies or young children, as it’s hard to know the amount they’re inhaling.
Topical Use of rosemary oil
Rosemary and other essential oils are readily absorbed into your bloodstream when you apply them to your skin. It’s generally advised to dilute essential oils with a neutral carrier oil, such as jojoba oil, almond oil, or my favorite fractionated coconut oil. This helps prevent potential irritation of your skin and premature evaporation of the oil.
General guidelines for diluting oils for topical use:
|Dilution ||Preparation |
|Babies||0.3%||Use 1 drop essential oil per |
1 tablespoon carrier oil
|Children||1.0%||Use 1 drop essential oil per |
1 teaspoon carrier oil
|Adults||2.0–4.0%||Use 3–6 drops essential oil |
per 1 teaspoon carrier oil
Once diluted, apply the oil to the bottom of your feet or the body part you’re targeting, such as a sore muscle. Next, rub the oil into your skin. This improves blood flood and absorption of the oil. Avoid applying rosemary and other essential oils to damaged skin or near sensitive areas, such as your eyes.
You can inhale rosemary oil or apply it to your skin. A diffuser can help distribute the essential oil in a room. If using rosemary oil topically, dilute it with a carrier oil, to avoid skin irritation. It’s generally advised to avoid rosemary oil if you’re pregnant or have epilepsy or high blood pressure. Rosemary oil may worsen the latter two conditions
If you want to try rosemary oil, simply inhale it or apply a diluted version topically. Remember that the oil is very concentrated, so you only need a few drops at a time.