Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen mint that grows to a height of about three feet (one meter). It bears narrow, thick, needle-like green leaves and pale blue to violet flowers. The leaves and the essential oil distilled form the leaves are used in herbal medicine. Food manufacturers add rosemary to meats and sauces as an antioxidant and stabilizer. The herb is also used to make liqueurs, such as Benedictine and Danziger Goldwasser.
Antioxidant, antiseptic, and antispasmodic- Rrosemary is a key herb in European herbal medicine. For centuries, rosemary has been used to treat arthritis, baldness, headaches, stomach upset, pains, strains, cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Contemporary scientific research suggests that rosemary may be useful for: Alzheimer’s disease- phytochemicals in rosemary may prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical that allows neurons within the brain to communicate with each other. Cancer- several laboratory studies suggest that rosemary contains compounds that prevent carcinogenic chemicals from binding to and inducing mutations in DNA. Circulatory problems- the camphor content in finely chopped rosemary or essential oil of rosemary to bath water helps stimulate blood circulation the skin. Eczema- increased circulation in the skin after application of rosemary may carry away inflammatory chemicals. Indigestion. And Rosemary can help prevent abdominal cramps. Irritable bowel syndrome- Rosemary relieves intestinal cramps and spasms by stimulating the release of bile that helps digest fat. It also relieves bloating and gas. Menstrual cramps- antioxidant compounds in rosemary prevent uterine spasms. Yeast infection- Rosemary is not fungicidal but also diuretic. It stops growth of yeast and helps remove yeast cells from the lining of the urinary tract.
Rosemary is most famous for its claim to improve the brain. It is used to treat Alzheimer’s and superstitious people believe a sprig of rosemary placed in a buttonhole will bring good luck and improve memory. Actually rosemary has a long history of use as a memory-enhancing herb, the ‘herb (or spice) of remembrance’ as it is called. In fact, rosemary leaf contains dozens of powerful antioxidant compounds and several compounds that are reported to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain.
Rosemary can be used both internally and externally to increase blood flow. It has both antispasmodic and diuretic properties to increase urine production and can stimulate menstrual blood flow. Rosemary leaf tea was traditionally used as a medicine for stimulating the appetite, as well as for treating gastric-juice deficiency and to aid digestion. One study says rosemary leaf is good for treating poor digestion due to insufficient bile flow through the action of its bitter substances and essential oil.
When applied as a salve, rosemary can assist in healing wounds, neuralgia, mild spasms, eczema, muscle pain, sciatica, rheumatism, as well as treating parasites. Rosemary was used in Roman burial rites. Even into the middle ages, people lay branches of rosemary on the coffin at funerals. Rosemary oil taken from the flowers and leaves has for centuries been mixed with almond or olive oil to massage the scalp, keep hair lush and healthy, and to prevent baldness.
Some recommend rosemary be used for preventing and fighting cataracts, claiming it contains at least four known anti-cataract compounds. Rosemary is recommended as an anti-aging herb, particularly for those with bone and joint conditions. It contains aromatic compounds that have a sedative effect and relieve depression. Rosemary has also been used to treat menstrual disorders, flatulence, dyspepsia, influenza, dropsy, and nervous exhaustion.