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.
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.
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
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
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
Essential oil of rosemary had a mild ability to inhibit the mycelial growth
of and aflatoxin synthesis by Aspergillus parasiticus, indicating weak
Rosemary has long been associated with remembrance.
Rosemary is useful in sachets and perfumes.
- Tyler, V.E. The Honest Herbal.
- Leung, A.Y. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food,
Drugs and Cosmetics. John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1980.
- Aruoma OI. Halliwell B. Aeschbach R. Loligers J.
Antioxidant and pro-oxidant properties of active rosemary constituents:
carnosol and carnosic acid. Xenobiotica. 22(2):257-68, 1992 Feb.
- Chan MM. Ho CT. Huang HI.
Effects of three dietary phytochemicals from tea, rosemary and turmeric on
inflammation-induced nitrite production. Cancer Letters. 96(1):23-9, 1995 Sep 4.
- Huang MT. Ho CT. Wang ZY. Ferraro T. Lou YR. Stauber K. Ma W.
Georgiadis C. Laskin JD. Conney AH.
Inhibition of skin tumorigenesis by rosemary and its constituents carnosol
and ursolic acid. Cancer Research. 54(3):701-8, 1994 Feb 1.
- Minnunni M. Wolleb U. Mueller O. Pfeifer A. Aeschbacher HU.
Natural antioxidants as inhibitors of oxygen species induced mutagenicity.
Mutation Research. 269(2):193-200, 1992 Oct.
- Tantaoui-Elaraki A. Beraoud L.
Inhibition of growth and aflatoxin production in Aspergillus parasiticus
by essential oils of selected plant materials.
Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology & Oncology. 13(1):67-72,
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Last Updated: March 7, 1999.