rosemary thumbnail Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis:


This is a shrubby herb with dark green linear leaves and paler undersides. There is a distinctive aromatic aroma when the plant is bruised.

Growing Info:

Where winters are not too harsh, this plant is a perennial. It prefers sun to partial sun, and doesn't seem to be too picky about water requirements (other than at the extremes.) Bringing the plant in during the winter, depending on zone, may be advised.

Culinary Uses:

The prime effectiveness of this herb is culinary rather than medicinal. The leaves are used to flavor stews, meats, and casseroles. A hint of rosemary leave in salads adds a new taste dimension. Rosemary is often baked into breads. This is an herb where it is possible, in the gustatory sense, to overdo it. (As this site develops, a recipe or two highlighting the effectiveness of Rosemary as a taste treat may appear.)

Medicinal Uses in Folklore:

It has been considered a digestion aid, an astringent, a diaphoretic, and a tonic.

Rosemary has been used as an emmemagogue and an abortifacient (although this latter use is certainly Not Wise, and probably not effective.)

An external application is said to prevent baldness.

Scanning the Scientific Literature:

Although components of rosemary have been shown to have biological effect, there are far more effective agents, and its prime use is indeed culinary.

The flavinoid pigment, diosmin, may diminish capillary permeability and fraility.

Rosemary has been approved in Germany as an aid to indigestion, and as a supportive treatment for rheumatic disorders.

The phenolic chemicals carnosol and carnosic acid have been suggested to account for the majority of the antioxidant properties of rosemary extract. They seem to work as inhibitors of lipid peroxidation in microsomal and liposomal systems, and serve as good scavengers of certain peroxyl radicals.

Carnosol has also been shown in stimulated mouse peritoneal cells to decrease nitrite production, which has implications for its mode of action on working against the inflammatory process.

Topical application of rosemary extract containing carnosol or ursolic acid decreased mouse skin tumor formation in another study.

There are also indications that carnosic acid can work as an antimutagenic agent.

Essential oil of rosemary had a mild ability to inhibit the mycelial growth of and aflatoxin synthesis by Aspergillus parasiticus, indicating weak anti-fungal properties.

Other Info:

Rosemary has long been associated with remembrance.

Rosemary is useful in sachets and perfumes.


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This information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. If conditions worsen, or persist, consult your healthcare practitioner.

Last Updated: March 7, 1999.