26 Impressive Benefits of Rosemary

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Emily Borth

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The most interesting health benefits of rosemary include its ability to boost memory, improve mood, lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and 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. It 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. It 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’.

Nutrition Facts

Rosemary, fresh
Serving Size :
Water [g]67.77
Energy [kcal]131
Protein [g]3.31
Total lipid (fat) [g]5.86
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]20.7
Fiber, total dietary [g]14.1
Calcium, Ca [mg]317
Iron, Fe [mg]6.65
Magnesium, Mg [mg]91
Phosphorus, P [mg]66
Potassium, K [mg]668
Sodium, Na [mg]26
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.93
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]21.8
Thiamin [mg]0.04
Riboflavin [mg]0.15
Niacin [mg]0.91
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.34
Folate, DFE [µg]109
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]146
Vitamin A, IU [IU]2924
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]2.84
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]1.16
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.9
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Rosemary Nutrition

According to USDA, 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, and iron. 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.

The herb has high dietary fiber. It is low in cholesterol and sodium but high in saturated fats.

Health Benefits of Rosemary

The top health benefits of rosemary include:

Hair Growth

The oil of rosemary promotes hair growth, prevents baldness, slows graying, treats dandruff, and dry scalp. A comparative study published in 2015 shows that rosemary oil is effective in treating androgenetic alopecia (permanent balding) cases by boosting hair growth. At six months, a significant increase in hair count was noted for the group treated with rosemary oil. It also promotes healing by increasing microcirculation of the scalp and decreases hair loss after shampooing.

Fresh rosemary herbs on a wooden tray

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. One possible mechanism for this action is that rosemary extract enhances the synthesis of nerve growth factor which is vital for nerve tissue.

Prevents Alzheimer’s

As per a research study published by Dr. Solomon Habtemariam, rosemary prevents beta-amyloid plaques and suppresses acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activities, which are associated with the symptoms 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 research titled “Brain Food for Alzheimer-Free Ageing: Focus on Herbal Medicines” suggests that rosemary is one of the best foods you can include in your diet to gain neuroprotective benefits.

Neurological Protection

The carnosic acid in rosemary has neuroprotective properties. A 2016 study suggests that it helps to reduce oxidative stress and overstimulation in nerve cells, ultimately protecting the nervous system. There is also some evidence that rosemary protects certain parts of the brain from tissue damage such as ischemic injury, heals nervous tissue, and reduces blood clots.

Reduce Liver Damage

Rosemary has been used for its protective effect on the liver in traditional medicine. A 2015 animal study published in the Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences revealed that extracts of rosemary and olive leaves helped in reducing liver cirrhosis, likely due to their antioxidant activities.

Reduces Stress

A study conducted on the anti-depressant effects of rosemary concluded that the herb is effective in improving symptoms of depression, and these anti-depressant effects were observed even with repeated administration two weeks later. Rosemary may have a calming effect on those who suffer from chronic anxiety and depression. Furthermore, it reduces salivary cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, which helps ease tension in the body.

Balances Hormone

Carnosol in rosemary decreases androgen receptor expression and also disrupts estrogen receptors in cancer cells. It also lowers the release of  DHT (dihydrotestosterone) hormone, which helps improve prostate health and enhance hair growth.

Anticancer Potential

The Nutrition and Cancer journal has published a study in 2015, which suggests that rosemary extract is very helpful in treating cancer.

Carnosol, rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, and other rosemary extracts have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and anticancer properties. They selectively kill cancer cells. It has shown promising results in the treatment of various cancers including colon, blood, breast, prostate, ovarian, cervical, liver, lung, bladder, and pancreatic cancer.

Skin Care

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, its extracts with citrus supplements prevent skin against UV light damage, much better than the supplements alone.

In a research study on the effects of rosemary extracts on skin damage, Dr. Alice L. Pérez Sánchez states that the herb actually helps protect you against UV-induced damage through its antioxidant effects.

Reduce Cough

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 fluid accumulation in the lungs.

Limits Weight Gain

The herbal extracts exert anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperglycemic effects and promote weight loss. Treatment with rosemary extract resulted in significant weight loss and increased fecal excretion of lipids. According to another 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 are highly contagious and can cause lethal boils and blisters. It 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.


Due to its antibacterial qualities already discussed, rosemary intake has been shown to prevent the growth of H. pylori bacteria, a dangerous pathogen that is associated with gastritis, stomach ulcers, and some cancers.

Boosts Immunity

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

Other benefits of rosemary include:

Maintains Gut Health

One study showed that in test subjects with colitis, treatment with rosemary extract was “effective to reduce colon tissue lesions and colitis.” This, in turn, helps maintain gut health and fight gut diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis.

Health benefits of rosemary - infographic

Aids Digestion

Rosemary, with strong anti-inflammatory properties, has traditionally been used as a natural remedy for upset stomach, constipation, gas, bloating, by relaxing the smooth muscles of the intestine. Adding it to your diet can help you regulate your bowel movements and your gastrointestinal system.

Freshens Breath

As a natural antibacterial agent, rosemary works as a wonderful breath freshener that improves your oral health. One study showed that an herbal mouthwash containing rosemary and other herbs was as effective as chlorhexidine in the treatment of gingivitis.

Steep the 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

Research published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that hematological parameters improved after treatment with rosemary extract as well as lipid peroxidation levels. Rosemary acts as a stimulant for the body and boosts the production of red blood cells and blood flow.

Relieves Pain

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 potentially helping with headaches, migraines, 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 and prevention of many diseases, 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.

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. Rosemary has also been shown to have hepatoprotective effects; protecting the liver so it can do its job of detoxifying the body.

Rich Source of Antioxidant

Antioxidant compounds in rosemary make a secondary line of defense behind the body’s own immune system. Rosemary contains a significant amount of antioxidants including rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, betulin acid, and carnosol.

Macular Degeneration

The presence of carnosic acid helps to prevent age-related macular degeneration, which affects the outer retina of the eye.

Increase Movement

Cineole in rosemary oil, taken either orally or via inhalation, boosts body activities by enhancing locomotion, according to a study.

Side Effects

Although the plant is classified as safe by the FDA even at higher concentrations, its long-term excessive use has side effects like:

  • Vomiting
  • Skin irritation
  • Itchy scalp in bald patients
  • Increase blood glucose level in diabetics
  • Induce convulsions like epilepsy
  • Muscle spasms
  • Coma

Other side effects include:

  • Pulmonary Edema: There is some evidence that rosemary leaves in excess quantity can cause pulmonary edema or fluid accumulation in the lungs. Rosemary may interact with diuretic medications often prescribed for this condition, therefore it is recommended you avoid taking rosemary If you take diuretic medications for this or any other reason. It is always best to check with your doctor.
  • Reduce Fertility: Long-term high consumption may lead to a 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. Be sure and check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new herbal supplements.

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.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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