Written by Endeavour College of Natural Health | Thursday, 29 September 2022
A spriggy-evergreen herb with a distinctive aroma, rich history of use in cooking, medicine, and cultural folklore? We’re talking about rosemary, of course!
With an aromatic and sweet flavour profile, rosemary has been used as a cooking staple in cultures across the world. Native to the Mediterranean and Asia, it flourishes in warm and sunny climates. Rosemary was considered sacred by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Hebrews, and Romans who used it to improve memory, as incense, a form of protection, and beyond.
Let’s find out more about this small sprig with big ambition…
Botanical name: Salvia rosmarinusCommon name: Rosemary (dew of the sea)Medicinal parts used: Leaves and essential oilFamily: Lamiaceae
In the past, rosemary was used to ward off evil spirits and scare away witches – holding a firm place in cultural folklore all over the world. However, it was in Europe where its powers were truly revered. Have you spotted any rosemary hair growth content on TikTok or Instagram? Traditionally, it was mixed with wine and used for baldness and dandruff, as well as other skin conditions after the Queen of Hungary used it for her serious headaches in the mid-17th century.
During the Middle Ages, it was used to treat the Plague, melancholy, gout, epilepsy and arthritis. Another use was that a bride would wear rosemary in her headpiece and the groom and guests would wear a sprig as well – they would plant a rosemary bush in their garden as a good omen for a successful marriage.
In ancient times, rosemary was used as a tool to strengthen memory. Greek scholars wore it in their hair to help with remembering their studies. This association with remembrance carried through to the present day, with the herb being used as a token of remembrance and commemoration on ANZAC Day (Rosemary is for Remembrance. (n.d.)).
One of the primary uses of rosemary is boosting brain function. A study conducted on cognitive performance and mood in healthy volunteers demonstrated that inhaling rosemary extract aided in supporting brain function and short-term memory (Moss M et al.,2003).
On top of this, rosemary is thought to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, carminative, circulatory stimulant, antimicrobial, and anti-proliferative* effects (De Oliveira et al.,2019). *Used or tending to hinder cell growth effects on tumour cells.
It is also commonly used to support memory, cognition and mood disorders such as anxiety (Ghasemzadeh & Hosseinzadeh, 2020) and encourage hair follicle growth and support liver and hormonal health.
A single sprig of rosemary packs quite a punch! Rich in phytochemicals that may improve eye health, regulate liver function, and decrease the risk of asthma – this is definitely a herb that deserves a spot in your routine.
One sprig of rosemary contains 3.9 calories, 0.1 grams of protein, 0.2 grams of fat, 0.6 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.4 grams of fibre. It’s also a great source of niacin (a form of vitamin B3), thiamin (vitamin B1), folate (vitamin B9), and riboflavin (vitamin B2).
In terms of form and care, a rosemary plant has flowers that come in blue, pink, white, and green varieties. Thriving in full sunshine with well-drained soil, it’s one of the easier herbs to maintain at home, also having a reputation as a drought-tolerant plant. (Rosemary: Fact Sheets, Gardening Australia, 2007). In terms of preserving, you can freeze, air/oven-dry, or infuse sprigs in olive oil or vinegar.
If you’d like to find out more about the function and use of rosemary, check out some of our related blog posts below:
De Oliveira, J. R., Camargo, S., & De Oliveira, L. D. (2019). Rosmarinus officinalis L. (rosemary) as therapeutic and prophylactic agent. Journal of biomedical science, 26(1), 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12929-019-0499-8
Ghasemzadeh Rahbardar, M., & Hosseinzadeh, H. (2020). Therapeutic effects of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) and its active constituents on nervous system disorders. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences, 23(9), 1100–1112. https://doi.org/10.22038/ ijbms.2020.45269.10541
Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P. Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults. Int J Neurosci. 2003 Jan;113(1):15-38. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12690999/ PMID: 12690999.
Nematolahi P, et al. (2017). Effects of Rosmarinus officinalis L. on memory performance, anxiety, depression, and sleep quality in university students: A randomized clinical trial.
Rosemary is for Remembrance. (n.d.). ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee. https://anzacday.org.au/rosemary-is-for-remembrance
Rosemary: Fact Sheets - Gardening Australia (2007, September 29). ABC. https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/rosemary/9428238
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Endeavour College of Natural Health
Endeavour College of Natural Health is Australia's largest Higher Education provider of natural medicine courses.
The College is known as the centre of excellence for natural medicine and is respected for its internationally recognised academic teams and high calibre graduates. Endeavour offers Bachelor of Health Science degrees in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, Acupuncture Therapies and Chinese Medicine, Undergraduate Certificates, a Diploma of Health Science and massage courses.