“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember…”
Rosemary is a most versatile hearty evergreen herb, which is deer resistant, resinous, aromatic and woody. It is one of nature’s best antioxidants and preservatives and it’s safety is well established. It serves multiple culinary purposes, and doubles as a beautiful shrub that can grow quite large. It blooms the prettiest little purple flowers when mature (which of course, the bees love!). The best tasting rosemary is that which is fresh, snipped from your garden. It has a delicious piney fragrance and a pungent flavor that is delicious with root vegetables and lamb dishes.
Rosemary is tolerant in most climates, though it does like drier soils. As we learned the past two winters, it does not do well when the weather stays in the 20’s for weeks at a time!
As William Shakespeare says, rosemary is for remembrance and that is a long held tradition. Rosemary is best known throughout history as a brain tonic for it’s ability to invigorate the memory and brain function, as well as stimulate the nervous system. Rosemary has been touted to improve test scores and it’s reputation hails back thousands of years…. the Ancient Greeks would place rosemary sprigs in their hair when studying for exams.
Rosemary is native to the mediterranean and it grows wild and freely in that region and most of southern europe.
As a healing herb, rosemary has a long history of use which is now being backed by science. There are few reports of toxicity or side effects. It should be noted however that the oil of rosemary may cause a rash in individuals with sensitive skin. Pregnant women should not take medicinal doses of rosemary. Rosemary essential oil should never be ingested orally.
The many health applications of rosemary:
- Antioxidant Protection Rosemary has one of the highest antioxidant abilities of all spices. It contains high levels of flavonoids and the phenolic compounds rosmanol, and rosmarinic acid. Carnosol and carnosic acid account for over 90% of the antioxidant properties of rosemary extract.
- Anti-Inflammatory Protection In mice, the rosmarinic acid was shown to be effective in reducing the progression of arthritis in mice. Rosemary oil applied topically stimulates the circulation of blood and in as approved treatment for arthritic pain in Germany.
- Antifungal Protection Rosemary has shown to have anti fungal effects against candida albicans (think yeast infection, and thrush)
- Remove Food Born Pathogens Studies have shown rosemary to be an effective inhibitor of Listeria monocytogenes, B. cereus, and S. aureus
- Relieves Indigestion The use of rosemary has been approved to treat dyspepsia (indigestion) by the German Commission E, which examines the safety and efficacy of herbs.
- Relieves Menstrual Symptoms Rosemary has a long history of use to regulate menstrual flow and ease cramping pain. For it’s role in menstruation regularity, therapeutic doses of rosemary should not be used by pregnant women.
- Detoxification Support The phytonutrients -particularly carnosol, in rosemary enhance the action of liver enzymes responsible for metabolizing and detoxifying chemicals. It also has the promise to protect the liver and stomach from carcinogenic or toxic agents.
- Rosemary is a Legendary Brain Tonic Historically rosemary has been known to enhance memory. It stimulates the flow of oxygen rich blood to the brain and has been valued for it’s ability to ease headaches and relieve mild to moderate depression. Research has now shown that aromatherapy with rosemary essential oils aides recall and increase alertness. The use of rosemary and lavender oils have been shown to reduce stress related to test taking in graduate nursing students.
- Applications Against Skin Cancer Research has shown that that carnosic and ursolic acids effectively prevent skin cancer in “a validated model of human skin cancer carcinogenesis.” In particular, ursolic acid inhibits the replication of cancerous melanoma cells. Furthermore, it also “inhibits reactive oxygen species in skin cells and prevents damage from the skin-aging effects of UV-A light”.
- Stimulates Hair Growth Rosemary has a history as a hair tonic. In a study of 84 people suffering from lopecia areata (a disease where hair falls out in patches) rosemary essential oil was shown to increase hair regrowth. Scientists have also shown that applying an extract made of rosemary leaves improves hair regrowth in animals affected by excess testosterone
The best way to prepare rosemary for nutrient retention is to wash under cold water and pat dry. Pull the leaves from the stem and chop just prior to adding to meals.
Roasted Root Vegetables and Rosemary
This is an easy side dish for any weeknight meal. The vegetables can roast while you prepare the rest of dinner. You can vary the vegetables as you like, such as adding a potato or butternut squash.
- 5 large carrots, chopped
- 1 onion, rough chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced thick
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
- fresh ground pepper
Place all ingredients in large baking dish, toss to coat. Place in 425 degree oven, stir occasionally and roast until tender. (about 45 minutes to an hour).
salt to taste
Rosemary can easily be added to homemade teas for an herbal decoction.
Zesty Memory Tea
- 1 part ginkgo
- 1 part peppermint leaves
- 1 part red clover tops
- 1 part rosemary leaves
- 1 part dried lemon peel
- 1 part ginger root
Use 1 teaspoon of herbs per cup of water in a tea ball or bag, and put in your nicest or most favorite cup or mug , and cover with boiling water . Steep for 10 minutes. Remove tea ball or bag, and add raw honey to taste.
You can also use rosemary to rinse your hair or even scent your bath with it!
Fragrant Rosemary Hair Rinse
- 1 quart water
- six sprigs organic rosemary
This works well for all hair types. Bring water to boil in medium pot Turn off heat and add the rosemary springs. Let steep for 20 minutes and allow to cool.
Pour into bottle or container for stage. You can spritz this in your hair as a leave in tonic, or pour over your scalp, leave for 5-10 minutes and rinse.
The hair rinse keeps in the refrigerator for one week.
Rosemary Infused Oil makes a beautiful gift. If you are gluten free, you might want to try these savory Rosemary Crackers. Truly one of the most wonderful ways to eat rosemary, is with lamb or chicken.
Huang MT, Ho CT, Wang ZY, et al. Inhibition of skin tumorigenesis by rosemary and its constituents carnosol and ursolic acid. Cancer Res. 1994 Feb 1;54(3):701-8.
Harmand PO, Duval R, Delage C, Simon A. Ursolic acid induces apoptosis through mitochondrial intrinsic pathway and caspase-3 activation in M4Beu melanoma cells. Int J Cancer. 2005 Mar 10;114(1):1-11
Gladstar, Rosemary (2012). Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use (p. 85). Storey Publishing, LLC.