When most people think of Rosemary, they think of cooking. The fact is, many ‘kitchen herbs’ have medicinal value as well! Exploring kitchen herbs is a simple way to get to know medicinal herbs. It’s easy to find them at your local nursery to start a garden. Although I wouldn’t recommend using the dried herbs in the spice section of your grocer, in a pinch, the fresh organic cuttings found in the produce section can be used.
Rosemary is a tender evergreen that comes to us from southern Europe. I can grow Rosemary in zone 6b but I have trouble over wintering her at times. I find that covering her with plastic and straw or leaves for insulation helps to protect her from the cold. She is heavily scented with a fresh, almost piney scent and can grow to about 3 feet tall in temperate zones and double that size in warmer zones.
Do you have Rosemary growing in your garden? If not, ask your mom or dad to buy some fresh Rosemary from the store to try out this experiment. When you have some fresh Rosemary, put a leaf into your mouth and chew it with your front teeth. What do you notice? Probably the first thing you notice is your mouth sort of puckers and dries as you chew. Does Rosemary make your mouth feel hot like a chili pepper or slice of Ginger would? Perhaps not as hot but probably warmer than it was. Now, how does that leaf taste? Did you notice anything when you first put it in your mouth? A sharpness? We call that taste pungent. You might also notice her other taste, bitter. So, energetically, Plantain is pungent, bitter, warming, and drying. These aspects are good to think about when you try to think about what Rosemary is useful for.
Nutritionally, Rosemary possesses many vitamins and minerals: calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), vitamin C, and zinc.
Rosemary also contains many medicinal constituents including essential oils such as borneol, camphor, cineole, eucalyptol, linalol, pinene, thymol, and verbenol, the flavonoids apigenin, diosmin, heterosides, and luteolin, quinones, resin, rosmarinic acid, rosmaricine, tannins, and the triterpenes oleanic and ursolic acid.
Medicinally, Rosemary is anodyne, antibacterial, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astringent, bitter, cardiotonic, carminative, cephalic, cholagogue, choleretic, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, hypertensive, nervine, ophthalmic, rejuvenative, rubefacient, stimulant, and stomachic.
Let’s take a look at how we can work with Rosemary…
Rosemary can be helpful for those with chronic fatigue and forgetfulness. It is said that crushing and inhaling the scent of Rosemary can help clear your mind.
As a stimulant, Rosemary is great for stimulating the circulatory system and the nervous system. She has a great toning and calming affect on the digestive system, especially when psychological tension is present. Rosemary has also been useful in cases of epilepsy and vertigo and can help to raise low blood pressure. She is valuable for fainting or spells of weakness associated with deficient circulation. Drinking an infusion of Rosemary over a period of time can help with poor circulation.
Externally, she is used to ease painful sciatica pain, muscular pain, and neuralgia. Generally, Rosemary is applied as a salve, infused oil, or by blending her essential oil with a carrier oil such as almond oil. A tincture or liniment could also be called on to assist with these external problems as well.
Women who have heavy menstrual flows or are pregnant should avoid using Rosemary medicinally since she is known as an emmenagogue, which can stimulate the menstrual flow. However, those with a normal or light flow can benefit from Rosemary’s antispasmodic properties when dealing with menstrual cramps.
Rosemary is stimulating to the hair follicles and scalp circulation, making her very likely to be helpful for premature baldness. To benefit from this aspect, a nice infused oil or essential oil diluted in a carrier oil such as almond, apricot kernel, or grape seed oil should be applied and massaged into the scalp daily. Alternatively, an infusion of Rosemary could be used as a rinse. The rinse is only recommended for those with darker hair as she tends to be a bit darkening and may make lighter hair look dull.
Rosemary contains chemicals called quinones, which have been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit carcinogens, which means she has the ability to prevent cancer. Yet another reason to add Rosemary to your daily meals!