Rosemary, known by the scientific name (Rosmarinus officinalis), is a native Mediterranean herb which is a fragrant and a savory herb used primarily in cooking (mainly in Italian dishes) to flavoring food items. Like the other savory herbs such as thyme, basil, oregano and lavender, rosemary is too a constituent of the mint family Lamiaceae, and is commonly used in its whole dried form or dried powdered extract to flavor the foods. Even liquid extracts and teas can be made out of rosemary, whose application is mostly otherwise found in vinaigrettes, pasta sauces and pizza recipes. Rosemary is a perennial herb and is widely known for its health and medicinal utility, though not all health benefits are not attested by science.
The plant with needle shaped leaves and white, purple and pink flowers has been renowned since ancient times for its nutritional and medicinal benefits. Not only is the herb known for its savory goodness in dishes like rosemary chicken, rosemary lamb, pastas and teas but also is a great source of the micronutrients iron, calcium and Vitamin B6. Besides these, rosemary is known to reduce muscle pain, alleviate memory, improve immunity and the blood circulation in the body and help boost hair growth. Other than the health benefits, rosemary also finds use in making body perfumes to give them a nice and woody texture and smell.
Health Benefits of Rosemary Herb:
Though the effects of rosemary are yet to be tried and tested on humans, animals have shown to respond positively to rosemary as it is assumed to be filled with both antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Rosemary oil and the dried leaves have been known to contribute a sizeable amount of benefits to alleviate and combat certain ailments and medical conditions.
The following are the areas where positive effects of rosemary have been detected by researchers though scientists are carrying out more studies and researches to dig in further into the effects, side effects and advantages of using rosemary so that stronger connection can be established between mercury and the positive health and medicinal effects on humankind.
Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties:
As already mentioned above, the herb rosemary is known to be great sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which work wonders to improve the overall immunity of the body and boosts the blood circulation throughout the body. These antioxidants have a vital role to play in neutralizing free radicals which are toxic for the human body.
Helps curb indigestion:
Europe uses rosemary primarily to treat indigestion. Though there is no scientific research or evidence to prove the effect of rosemary in improving digestion, Commission E in Germany has appropriated the usage of rosemary to curb indigestion and to help boost digestion.
Increasing concentration and memory
The research study put forth in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology states that rosemary can have aromatic benefits which aid in the enhancement of the person’s concentration, speed, performance, and accuracy and even their mood.
Treatment of Hair Fall:
Rosemary oil helps in boosting hair growth. When massaged and applied on the scalp, rosemary oil helps in augmenting the hair count in people as the oil is as effective to the hair as minoxidil. Rosemary oil also helps in treating baldness when the essential oil of rosemary is massaged in the hair along with the essential oils of lavender, thyme and cedarwood.
Alleviate Joint Pain Woes and Arthritis:
As per a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, essential oils of rosemary helps in the reduction of muscle and joint pain which come in the accompaniment of arthritis. Since rosemary oil helps in blood circulation, studies point out the benefit of rosemary oil when used in combination with oleanolic acid and hops help to reduce distress and pain in the joints which are caused by arthritis.
In the treatment of Diabetic Kidney Damage:
Scientists have found out that the intake of a product that consists of rosemary, centaury and lovage might have the capacity to bring down the quantity of protein in the urine when consumed with the standard anti-diabetic medicines. The expulsion of protein with urine is a strong indication of a probable kidney disease in the diabetic patients.
Helps treat Mental Exhaustion:
The aroma of rosemary goes a long way in improving concentration and attention issues in adults who exhibit signs of low energy levels. Tentative research shows that rosemary aids in increasing the mental energy of people and in relieving stress and anxiety from people. However, the impact of rosemary on the mental energy of people is still variable and tentative and further research is necessary to establish these benefits of rosemary on adults.
Aids in the treatment of Gingivitis:
Early researches suggest that herbal mouthwashes which are rich in the essence of rosemary and other herbal ingredients helps in the reduction of gum swelling and bleeding in people with gum problems and diseases with daily usage, washing your mouth religiously after meals.
Improving the effects of Fibromyalgia:
Though not proven scientifically, it is believed, as per early studies, that rosemary helps in improving the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
A preliminary research suggested that the intake of rosemary oil may work temporarily to raise and normalize the blood pressure in people suffering from hypotension, though the benefit was observed to be temporary.
Science proves that rosemary can also be beneficial for the health of the brain as rosemary is found to contain an ingredient called the carnosic acid, which aids in damage caused by the toxic free radicals inside the human brain. Scientists have also conducted studies in rats to find that rosemary can be useful to help people who have had a stroke. Rosemary is seen to have protective qualities to alleviate brain damage and boost recovery in people who have had a major stroke or brain injury.
Slows down brain aging:
In the early studies and researches, it is seen that rosemary may contribute significantly to slow down or even stop brain aging. In the studies conducted towards the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease proves the therapeutic capacity of rosemary, though the study is mainly at the initial stages of research.
Can fight off Cancer:
In a research published in Oncology Reports, it has been stated that rosemary or the ‘crude ethanolic rosemary extract (RO)’, can reduce the spread of leukemia and breast carcinoma cells in people. The addition of rosemary extract to food has the ability to reduce the production of cancer-causing cells and agents in the human body. Rosemary can also act as an anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent, thus eradicating all the signs and the early symptoms of cancerous agents and toxins.
Other benefits of rosemary:
Other than the above, rosemary also helps in the treatment of the following:
High Blood Pressure
Liver and Gallbladder Problems
Provide protection against macular degeneration
Help in keeping the health of the eye intact.
Increasing menstrual flow
To induce an abortion
The last two are tentative assumptions and requires more scientific backup to prove the aforementioned benefits of rosemary.
The Nutritional Benefits of Rosemary:
Since we use rosemary in little quantity, primarily as a savory herb in food, the caloric value in the food remains almost the same. The nutrition values change with the form of rosemary we intake or use in food, such as the dried ground spic or fresh rosemary from the garden. The concentration of nutritional values is different with different forms of rosemary but the usage of rosemary in food does not make a substantial difference in the nutrient composition and the calorie count of the food since the quantity of rosemary put in dishes is very little in comparison to the overall amount of food.
As per the USDA data, a teaspoon full of dried rosemary supplies with just 11 calories of energy approximately. Those calories are mostly composed of carbohydrates which come from fiber, though rosemary is not counted as a major source of sugar, carbohydrates or fiber.
A teaspoon full of rosemary is believed to contain the micronutrients of vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and folate, though the amount is not that significant to be considered beneficially contributing to the body. The minerals commonly found in rosemary include calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
The flavor of rosemary is often considered to be at par with the flavor and the aroma of pine while some people also describe the flavor to be bitter, lemony and pungent.
Fresh rosemary can be cultivated in your own gardens or can even be found in the markets or in the supermarkets. Rosemary usually stays fresh for much longer duration than the other herbs when stored in the refrigerator. It is for this very reason that chefs prefer to use the fresher variant of rosemary more than the dried ones. Dried rosemary stays aromatic for days when stored in an air-tight container, kept in a cool and dark place. Dried rosemary, when properly stored, usually stays good and aromatic for a period of three to four years.
A Few Quick and Fun Facts on Rosemary Herb:
Rosemary is not a seasonal but a perennial plant which lives for more than two years
Along with cooking, rosemary is used in making essential oils which too have as many health benefits as the herb.
The probable health benefits of rosemary include relieving joint pain, reducing hair loss, boosting concentration, alleviating anxiety and mental stress, improving digestion and slowing down brain aging.
Though the nutritional value of rosemary is as less as 11 calories a teaspoon, consuming high dosages of rosemary can cause vomiting, pulmonary edema and coma.
Side Effects of Rosemary:
In spite of all the health, nutritional and medicinal benefits promised by rosemary, intakes of high dosages trigger allergic reactions in people. The usual dosage of rosemary should be restricted to 4 to 6 grams a day, derived to be the safe amount of consumption by the scientists and researchers. However, it is highly advisable to not use rosemary oil internally, as the essential oil is concentrated and can be more toxic than the permissible limit of 4 to 6 grams of rosemary herb a day.
For medicinal purposes, rosemary should be used in an appropriate amount only for a short duration of time, failing which the side effects of vomiting, spasms, coma, and even, in some cases, fluid in lungs may appear on the regular usage of the herb. Rosemary dosages should be kept to a minimum or to nil by women who desire to become pregnant in the near future or are pregnant to avoid harmful effects on the baby or unfortunate miscarriages.