Phytomedicine in my kitchen - Rosemary

Updated: Apr 2, 2019

You've added Rosemary to lamb dishes, or perhaps to roasted vegetables... but have you considered the medicinal benefits of Rosemary beyond its flavour?

Rosemary, or Rosmarinus officinalis is beneficial from head to toe. Since antiquity, it has been used for improving memory. In Rome, it even became a symbol of fidelity between lovers to demonstrate that they would remember each other. Today, students in Greece still burn Rosemary during exams.

The smell of Rosemary has an impact on the Limbic system and research has shown that it can improve concentration by up to 75%.

Rosemary is indigenous to the Mediterranean.

The leaves and flowering tops are used and are harvested all year but preferably after flowering season.

Its general actions include: antiseptic, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.


When taken as a tea or tincture, Rosemary increases blood flow to the brain and this assists with concentration, headaches and memory. Rosemary contains an antioxidant called “Carnosic acid”, which fights off free radical damage and may help to prevent the aging of your brain. Furthermore, the increase in blood flow to the scalp and the calcium content of Rosemary aids hair growth when drunk as a tea or when used externally.


Rosemary is a considered a "cardiac tonic" and stimulates circulation. This makes it useful for those with poor circulation leading to cold hands and feet or poor memory and concentration. Rosemary also contains a flavonoid called “Diosmin” which protects the integrity of blood vessel walls. This makes it useful for both low and high blood pressure. It also gives it the quality of being a "ventonic" and can assist in preventing varicose veins.


When used in cooking, as a tincture, or as a tea, Rosemary stimulates the liver to increase bile secretion and stimulates the gut to begin peristalsis. This aids general digestion and, more specifically, the digestion of fatty food. Rosemary also protects the liver and this makes it useful for those with liver disease, gout, a removed gallbladder, indigestion and heart burn. Carnosic acid was found to suppress adipocyte differentiation. This inhibition of adipogenesis can promote sustainable weight loss. In another study, Rosemary extract prevented weight gain by limiting lipid absorption in the intestine. This was made possible through the inhibition of pancreatic lipase activity.

Joints and Bones

When Rosemary is rubbed externally it causes a reaction that is referred to as “rubefacient”. This action describes a slight irritation to the skin that causes superficial inflammation in order to relieve deeper inflammation of muscles, joints and ligaments. This action is helpful for muscle aches, sciatica, neuralgia, torn ligaments and rheumatoid arthritis.

Essential oils from rosemary are also analgesic. The essential oils contain "Rosmarinic acid", which modulates neuro-inflammation and is a potential candidate in treating neuropathic pain.

Carnosic acid was also shown to inhibit osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption in vitro and exerted therapeutic protection against joint destruction in vivo.

How to use Rosemary

The easiest way to use rosemary is in a tea. If you have a plant, use a thumb length of fresh Rosemary in 200ml boiled water. Or place 1 tablespoon of dried herb in 200ml boiled water. Allow it to steep for 10-15 minutes and then strain and drink. Take 3 cups a day for acute use or 1 cup for maintenance. Alternatively, take 10ml 1:5 45% tincture a day. For joint or muscle ailments, use 60g in a bath tub.


Low doses may be used during pregnancy and lactation. Do not use simultaneously with iron supplements, especially in anaemia and where iron supplementation is required. Discontinue 3 days prior to anesthesia.

Reference Links

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat or diagnose.

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