Nutrition  

Unleash the Power of Rosemary

Written by M. Macdonald

Updated May 16, 2023

Rosemary is so much more than the fragrant herb that tastes good with roast meats and potatoes, it’s one of the most powerful herbs and essential oils out there. What makes it so potent? Its antioxidant properties, which is one of the highest that has ever been found in nature.

This barky evergreen shrub with fragrant needle-like leaves is native to the Mediterranean region and has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years to improve memory, digestion, immunity and relieve aches and pains. It is of course known for its unique flavour in culinary dishes, but in recent years, rosemary oil has become increasingly researched for its natural capabilities.

As people age, joint pain and stiffness become more common, which can make it difficult to perform daily activities. While there are prescription medications available to treat joint pain, many individuals prefer to use natural remedies to improve their overall health. In this article, we will explore the benefits of rosemary oil for joint pain and discuss how it can be used to benefit one’s health.

Rosemary’s leaves are commonly used fresh or dried to flavour various dishes, but its essential oil is extracted from the leaves and flowering tops of the plant. With a woody, evergreen-like scent, rosemary oil is typically described as invigorating and purifying.

Rosemary’s Health Benefits

Reducing inflammation and relieving aches and pains:
Rosemary’s main actives, camphor, 1,8-cineole, α-pinene, and β-myrcene have the ability to reduce inflammatory factors in the body and numerous studies have found that Romarinic acid is effective in alleviating neuropathic pains caused by different forms of arthritis and other types of joint pain, headaches, migraines, muscle spasms etc. Rosemary’s powerful antioxidants help promote healthy blood circulation and to defend against lingering inflammation, the root cause of pain.

The European review for medical & pharmacological sciences published a study that found the analgesic (pain relief) effects of rosemary essential oil and compared them to that of paracetamol and codeine. It even showed that rosemary essential oil can enhance the absorption of both topical and percutaneous diclofenac drug.

Stimulating Immunity:
Rosemary has many potent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, making it a great addition to your cold and flu routine in winter.

To reap the benefits of rosemary’s impressive antioxidant capabilities for cold and flu symptoms, consume 2-3 cups of rosemary tea per day as a preventative or to help soothe a pesky cough or sinus blockage. You can also add a few drops of rosemary essential oil and breathe in the steam through your nose to create a steam bath.

Improving digestion:
Rosemary has long been a home remedy for digestive issues such as loss of appetite, heartburn and/or acid reflux, bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. This is due to its ability to stimulate the production and the release of digestive fluids and enzymes which help further break down undigested foods and increase nutrient absorption. Because rosemary has anti-inflammatory properties, it’s also great for reducing symptoms from inflammatory bowel disease and preventing its apparition.

A study published in The Journal of Biomedical Science on rosemary highlights its ability to stimulate the production and release of bile into the digestive tract, helping to break down fats that may be difficult to digest.
An article in The International Journal of Nutrition also shows both in vivo and in vitro benefits and positive effect of rosemary in lowering gastro-intestinal inflammation.

For soothing digestive discomfort, consume rosemary steeped tea 2-3 times daily, or dilute 2-3 drops of rosemary essential oil in a carrier oil, like coconut, and massage onto the stomach as needed.

Boosting cognitive function and memory:
Rosemary oil contains compounds that can improve memory, concentration, and cognitive function. This makes it a great natural remedy for individuals who are experiencing age-related cognitive decline.

The International Journal of Neuroscience published a study highlighted a significant enhancement of performance of memory quality, an increase in alertness and showed that rosemary aromatherapy produced a feeling of “contentment” in the studied individuals.
Another study published in Psychogeriatric concluded that rosemary essential oil even has the potential to help treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease!

To improve memory, mix 3 drops of rosemary oil with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil. Rub on upper neck, or diffuse for 1 hour a day.

Rosemary’s beauty benefits:
In addition to its health benefits, rosemary  can be a great addition to your hair and scalp care, as it can help promote hair growth and regrowth and a healthy scalp. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties stimulate blood flow to the scalp and reduce dryness, dandruff and skin irritation, and it may also decrease the effects of testosterone on hair follicles, responsible for hair loss and balding and/or thinning.

A randomised trial published in Phytotherapy Research studied the effects of rosemary oil versus minoxidil 2% in the treatment of androgenic alopecia, and concluded that after 6 months of treatment, rosemary  performed just as well, if not better than minoxidil at significantly increasing hair count. It also caused less scalp itching compared to the minoxidil as a side effect.
A study from SkinMed also found rosemary leaf extract to be effective in reducing the effects of testosterone induced hair loss and promoting hair regrowth in these subjects.

To benefit from rosemary’s hair growth and scalp healing properties, add 4 or 5 drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of jojoba or coconut oil, massage it into your scalp and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before washing your hair.

Potential Side Effects

Just like any other ingredients, it is important to be aware that, while rosemary oil is generally very well tolerated, it can potentially have some unwanted effects. Always dilute rosemary oil with a carrier oil to avoid skin reactions, make sure to avoid sensitive areas like the eyes and internal mucous areas and always do a patch test before using on a larger area to test your skin’s sensitivity.

Keep any essential oils out of reach of children and pets, and do not use rosemary oil on children under 6 years old.

Avoid taking rosemary oil internally as it can be very strong, and may also interact with prescription blood thinners. Talk to your doctor before using rosemary if you are pregnant, nursing or if you have any medical conditions.

Conclusion

Rosemary is a powerful herb with a long history of medicinal use for its ability to improve memory, digestion, immunity and relieve aches and pains. Its essential oil, which is extracted from the leaves and flowering tops of the plant, has been increasingly researched for its natural capabilities: rosemary’s main actives have the ability to reduce inflammatory factors in the body, stimulate immunity, improve digestion, and boost cognitive function and memory. Additionally, rosemary is a great addition to your beauty routine, as it can help promote a healthy scalp, leading to better looking hair. Rosemary essential oil is versatile, generally safe and easy to use, and can be used to benefit one’s health in a variety of ways. Remember to always check with your healthcare provider regarding your suitability to use rosemary oil.

Find all used sources at the bottom of this page.

READ MORE… Grumpy to Happy: The Impact of Movement on Joint Health – Dr. O’Brien, Joint Health Specialist

Sources

Raskovic A, Milanovic I, Pavlovic N, Milijasevic B, Ubavic M, Mikov M. Analgesic effects of rosemary essential oil and its interactions with codeine and paracetamol in mice. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015 Jan;19(1):165-72. PMID: 25635991.

Nogueira de Melo GA, Grespan R, Fonseca JP, Farinha TO, Silva EL, Romero AL, Bersani-Amado CA, Cuman RK. Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil inhibits in vivo and in vitro leukocyte migration. J Med Food. 2011 Sep;14(9):944-6. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.0159. Epub 2011 Jun 11. PMID: 21663474.

Ghasemzadeh MR, Amin B, Mehri S, Mirnajafi-Zadeh SJ, Hosseinzadeh H. Effect of alcoholic extract of aerial parts of Rosmarinus officinalis L. on pain, inflammation and apoptosis induced by chronic constriction injury (CCI) model of neuropathic pain in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Dec 24;194:117-130. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.08.043. Epub 2016 Aug 23. PMID: 27566199.

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. doi: 10.1080/00207450390161903. PMID: 12690999.

de Oliveira JR, Camargo SEA, de Oliveira LD. Rosmarinus officinalis L. (rosemary) as therapeutic and prophylactic agent. J Biomed Sci. 2019 Jan 9;26(1):5. doi: 10.1186/s12929-019-0499-8. PMID: 30621719; PMCID: PMC6325740.

Veenstra JP, Johnson JJ. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus): Health-promoting benefits and food preservative properties. Int J Nutr. 2021;6(4):1-10. Epub 2021 Jun 24. PMID: 34651071; PMCID: PMC8513767.

Panahi Y, Taghizadeh M, Marzony ET, Sahebkar A. Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial. Skinmed. 2015 Jan-Feb;13(1):15-21. PMID: 25842469.

Murata K, Noguchi K, Kondo M, Onishi M, Watanabe N, Okamura K, Matsuda H. Promotion of hair growth by Rosmarinus officinalis leaf extract. Phytother Res. 2013 Feb;27(2):212-7. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4712. Epub 2012 Apr 20. PMID: 22517595.


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