Botanical family: Lamiaceae
Parts used: Leaf, twig
Main active ingredients: Flavonoids, phenols, tannins, volatile oil
Actions: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, circulatory stimulant, digestive tonic, nerve tonic
Good for: Muscular aches and pains, headaches, tension, memory, hair and skin
Available forms: Tincture, essential oil
Native to the Mediterranean, rosemary is an evergreen shrub now cultivated worldwide for ornamental, culinary, medicinal and cosmetic purposes.
The name rosemary comes from the Latin ‘ros marinus’ meaning dew of the sea and refers to its original habitat – the Mediterranean coastline. Legend has it that the flowers were once white, only turning to blue after the Virgin Mary hung her cloak on a rosemary bush when the holy family stopped to rest on the flight into Egypt.
History of Rosemary
Rosemary has long been linked with improving the mind and boosting memory. Garlands of rosemary were worn by ancient Greek and Roman students taking exams. More recently, Napoleon was interested in using rosemary to help focus the mind. Records show that he used around 60 bottles of rosemary cologne a month.
Rosemary has also long been valued as a tonic for the heart and nervous system. The renaissance herbalist Wilhelm Ryff said of rosemary tea: “The spirits of the heart and entire body feel joy from this drink which dispels all despondency and worry”. For centuries herbalists have used the remedy for skin complaints, poor circulation, jaundice, painful periods, fainting, nervousness, anxiety, exhaustion, headaches and migraine.
Current uses of Rosemary
HEADACHES AND NERVOUS TENSION
It can be used to bring quick relief to headaches and nervous tension especially those caused by overwork. It can also help soothe a migraine.
DIGESTION AND POOR CIRCULATION
Rosemary is thought to help calm digestion and is often used for gut problems such as indigestion, stomach cramps, bloating and constipation. It can also help boost circulation.
Research shows rosemary may help to keep the brain sharp, improving memory and concentration.
HAIR AND SKIN
Rosemary has been traditionally used in skin and hair care for hundreds of years and is often used today as a hair conditioner.