The most interesting health benefits of rosemary include its ability to boost memory, improve mood, treat Alzheimer’s, heal cancer, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and protect the immune system. The herb also helps stimulate circulation, detoxify the body, protect the body from bacterial infections, prevent premature aging, and heal skin conditions.
What is Rosemary?
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial woody evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean region. It has fine needle-like leaves with a silver touch and pink, purple, white, or blue flowers.
Rosemary is one of the most commonly found herbs in a spice rack. The herb has a warm, bitter, and astringent taste but yet it gives a wonderful flavor and aroma to soups, sauces, stews, roasts, and stuffing. Rosemary can be used in dried powder form or as fresh leaves. Its leaves can be used to prepare tea, essential oil, and liquid extract.
The herb is considered to be sacred by ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, as well as Hebrews and is particularly prevalent in Italian cultural cuisine. It is also called as ‘Dew of the Sea’ or ‘Old man’.
Fresh rosemary has a very high reserve of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamin, folate, as well as minerals like magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, and manganese. It has abundant antioxidants in its phenolic compounds such as diterpene, carnosol, and rosmarinic acid, as well as in its essential oils such as cineol, camphene, borneol, bornyl acetate, α-terpineol, and α-pinene.
Health Benefits of Rosemary
The top health benefits of rosemary include:
The oil of rosemary promotes hair growth, prevents baldness, slows graying, treats dandruff, and dry scalp. Studies show that the herb can androgenetic alopecia (permanent balding) cases by boosting hair growth. It also promotes healing by increasing microcirculation of scalp and decreases hair loss after shampooing.
Enhances Brain Function
One of the earliest documented uses of rosemary for health reasons was as a cognitive stimulant. It helped improve memory performance and quality. It is also known to boost alertness, intelligence, and focus.
Rosemary prevents beta-amyloid plaques and suppresses acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which are primary causes of Alzheimer’s, ataxia and dementia. It has also been linked to stimulating cognitive activity in the elderly as well as those suffering from other acute cognitive disorders.
The carnosic acid in rosemary has neuroprotective properties. It helps to reduce oxidative stress and overstimulation in nerve cells, ultimately protecting the nervous system. It is also known to protect certain parts of the brain from tissue damage such as ischemic injury, heals nervous tissue, and reduce blood clots.
Rosemary has been linked to lower levels of cirrhosis and a faster healing time of the liver, which is one of the slowest organs to heal. It also reduces plasma liver enzymes, which may cause type-2 diabetes. Carnosol prevents liver tissue distortion. It also prevents depletion of liver glycogen, the energy storage molecules.
The aroma of rosemary alone has been linked to improving mood and clearing the mind. It has a calming effect on those who suffer from chronic anxiety and depression. Furthermore, rosemary reduces salivary cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, which helps ease tension in the body.
Carnosol in rosemary balances androgen and estrogen hormones in the body. It also lowers DHT (dihydrotestosterone) hormone, which helps improve prostate health and enhance hair growth.
Manganese, carnosol, rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid and other rosemary extracts have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and anticancer properties. They selectively kill cancer cells. Rosemary has shown promising results in the treatment of various cancers including colon, blood, breast, prostate, ovarian, cervical, liver, lung, bladder, and pancreatic cancer.
The antioxidants in the essential oils of rosemary help improve the quality of the skin. It has a potent anti-aging effect and helps heal blemishes and increase the natural shine. Also, rosemary extracts with citrus supplements prevent skin against UV light damage, much better than the supplements alone.
The leaves of rosemary remove the phlegm and mucus from the respiratory system, providing relief from a cough, cold, flu, and even asthma. Rosmarinic acid prevents any kind of fluid accumulation in the lungs.
Limits Weight Gain
Rosemary extracts exert anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperglycaemic effects and promote weight loss. According to a study, carnosic acid-rich rosemary can be used as a preventive treatment for metabolic disorders.
Antibacterial & Antimicrobial
Rosemary is specifically powerful against bacterial infections. It is linked to preventing staph infections, which causes lethal boils and blisters, and is highly contagious. Rosemary also eradicates various gram negative and gram positive bacteria completely.
Prevents Blood Clot
Due to its abundant antioxidant profile, rosemary has an anti-thrombotic effect and helps prevent blood clots.
Rosemary intake has been shown to prevent the growth of H. pylori bacteria, a dangerous pathogen that can cause stomach ulcers.
The active components in rosemary are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic in nature. This represents a three-pronged attack against many different diseases and pathogens that could threaten the immune system or damage the integrity of the body.
Other benefits of rosemary include:
Maintains Gut Health
Rosemary increases bile flow and keeps the gallbladder functioning at its optimal best. This, in turn, helps maintain gut health and fight gut diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis.
Rosemary, with strong anti-inflammatory properties, has traditionally been used as a natural remedy for upset stomach, constipation, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Adding it to your diet can help you regulate your bowel movements and your gastrointestinal system.
As a natural antibacterial agent, rosemary works as a wonderful breath freshener that improves your oral health.
Steep rosemary leaves in a glass of hot water and then gargle or swish the water in your mouth to eliminate bacteria, and you will have naturally fresh and clean breath all night!
Stimulates Blood Flow
Rosemary acts as a stimulant for the body and boosts the production of red blood cells and blood flow.
As an analgesic substance, rosemary is topically applied to the affected area to soothe the pain. When consumed orally, it acts as a pain reliever for headaches and migraines. It also relieves menstrual and stomach cramps, as well as kidney pain.
Carnosol and carnosic acids are two powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in rosemary that have been linked to reducing inflammation of muscles, blood vessels, and joints. This makes it an effective treatment for many things, including blood pressure, gout, arthritis, and injuries sustained during physical exertion or surgery. It is effective in oral or topical form. Furthermore, the reduction in inflammation in the cardiovascular system can help boost heart health and prevent atherosclerosis from appearing.
Detoxifies the Body
Rosemary is slightly diuretic in nature, meaning that it can help flush out toxins efficiently during urination. Furthermore, by increasing the rate at which water leaves the body, it can also help push out pathogens, salts, toxins, and even excess fat when consumed regularly. It helps cure uremia, majorly seen in people with thyroid dysfunction.
Rich Source of Antioxidant
Antioxidant compounds in rosemary make a secondary line of defense behind the body’s own immune system. A significant amount of antioxidant in rosemary include rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, betulic acid, and carnosol.
Carnosic acid in rosemary helps to prevent age-related macular degeneration, which affects the outer retina of the eye.
Antiepileptic properties of rosemary help reduce spams of involuntary muscles such as the heart.
Cineole in rosemary boosts body activities by enhancing locomotion, according to a study.
Rosemary Side Effects
Although rosemary plant is classified as safe by the FDA even at higher concentrations, its long-term excessive use has side effects like:
- Skin irritation
- Itchy scalp in bald patients
- Increase blood glucose level in diabetics
- Induce convulsions like epilepsy
- Muscle spasms
Other side effects include:
- Pulmonary Edema: Too much fluid gets filled in the lungs.
- Reduce Fertility: Long-term consumption of rosemary may lead to decrease in sperm count, density, and mobility in men. In pregnant women, it may lead to miscarriage and abortion.
- Drug Interactions: It may interact negatively with certain drugs like Warfarin (anticoagulant), Lithium (manic depression), Lasix (diuretic) and others.
Note: If you are allergic to other members of the mint family, you may experience discomfort if you consume or apply rosemary or its oil, but the reactions are typically mild.