Rosemary Oil History, Uses and Benefits
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb, with fragrant evergreen needle-like leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region.It is a member of the mint family Larriaceae, which also includes many other herbs.
The name rosemary derives from the Latin name rosmarinus, which is from "dew" (ros) and "sea" (marinus), or "dew of the sea" because in many locations it needs no other water than the humidity carried by the sea breeze to live.
Rosemary oil is one of the most popular essential oils. It has become important to us due to its various health benefits including its ability to stimulate hair growth, boost mental activity, relieve respiratory problems and reduce pain.
Rosemary, also known as Rosmarinus Officinalis, is very popular in the Mediterranean region as a culinary herb. Many dishes are cooked with rosemary oil and freshly plucked rosemary leaves. Rosemary essential oil is mostly extracted from the leaves.The rosemary bush belongs to the mint family which includes basil, lavender, myrtle, and sage.
Rosemary has been extensively used since ancient times for a variety of purposes. The Romans gave special importance to rosemary plant and used it in religious ceremonies. Its use extended to wedding ceremonies, food, cosmetics, and herbal care. Rosemary plant and its extract were also used in the ancient Egyptian civilization as incense.
Rosmary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a well-known culinary herb. Dried rosemary leaves are a popular seasoning for food, adding flavour to soups, stews, meat and fish.
Applied to the skin, rosemary essential oil helps strengthen the capillaries and has a rejuvenating effect. For this reason, rosemary is a common ingredient used in many cosmetics, including skin toners, creams, soaps and hair products.
However, beyond being a flavouring-enhancer for certain foods and its use in cosmetics, you may not be aware that rosemary extract has a long history of medicinal uses too. It has been used to treat a wide range of ailments, including stomach upsets, digestive disorders and headaches.
Recent research is now revealing even more benefits attached to this remarkable herb, including its ability to help prevent cancer and age-related skin damage, boost the functioning of the liver and act as a mild diuretic to help reduce swelling.
Two of the most important ingredients in rosemary, which are thought to be largely responsible for many of these therapeutic actions, are caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid - both are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents.
These two natural acids are effective at reducing inflammation which may contribute to asthma, liver disease and heart disease.
Rosemary is proving an important defence against cancer
The antioxidants contained in rosemary help to protect your body's cells from damage by free radicals. They include monoterpenes, phenolic diterpenes and flavonoids, which are renowned for their ability to slow down the production of free radicals.
It is also a rich source of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), another potent antioxidant, which contributes to its free radical fighting powers further still.
DNA is your genetic blueprint, and it is particularly prone to injury from free radicals. Left unchecked, this damage can eventually lead to cells proliferating out of control, which greatly increases the risk of cancer.
Scientists from the department of Mutagenesis and Carcinogenesis, Cancer Research Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences, in the Slovak Republic, have found that rosemary extract can significantly help to protect DNA against free radical damage.
By blocking oestrogen, rosemary helps prevent breast cancer
It is well known that an imbalance of oestrogen hormones in women can contribute to breast cancer. Several conventional drugs are aimed at blocking the effects of oestrogen to help reduce this risk. However, these drugs can cause a range of unpleasant side effects, including hot flushes, vaginal bleeding, headaches and nausea.
Fortunately, rosemary offers a safe and natural alternative treatment. Dr Zhu and colleagues from the Department of Chemical Biology, State University of New Jersey in the US, found that a 2 per cent concentration of rosemary extract given for three weeks was able to significantly inactivate excess oestrogen. Researchers believe that it works by stimulating liver enzymes, which inactivate oestrogen hormones like oestrone and oestradiol.7
Rosemary helps minimise the effects of ageing on your skin
As mentioned earlier, one of the traditional uses of rosemary is as a cosmetic. Recent research findings have now confirmed the skin-protective benefits it possesses.
According to researchers working at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Catania, in Italy, rosemary extract helps protect the individual components of skin cells, which may prevent age-related skin damage such as wrinkles.
In a follow-up study the Italian researchers found that rosemary extract is able to exert even greater benefits. In particular, it was shown to safeguard a protective protein called HSP70. The role of this protein is to reduce damage caused by stress, free radicals and other toxins on the skin.
Disarms harmful toxins and flushes them from your body
Another benefit rosemary extract has been shown to possess is an ability to inactivate toxins and then eliminate them from your liver, before they can inflict any serious damage.
French scientists from the National Institute of Agronomic Research in Dijon, found that rosemary extract encouraged detoxifying enzymes - including cytochrome P450, glutathione transferase and quinone reductase - to flush harmful toxins from the liver.
In effect, rosemary stimulates your liver to work more efficiently, which helps you feel more healthy and energetic.
Rosemary helps combat the effects of water retention
Rosemary also has therapeutic properties as a mild diuretic - making it effective in reducing swollen ankles and bloating. Dr M Halaoui from the department of Biology, University of Fez in Morocco, has studied the effects of rosemary extract's diuretic actions on the kidney.
He found that a daily dose of rosemary extract in liquid form can improve kidney function significantly, increase urine flow, and preserve the essential minerals sodium, potassium and chlorium.
This is important because conventional diuretics (water tablets) may actually worsen kidney function by speeding up the elimination of these essential minerals from the body.
Warning: Pregnant women should not take rosemary extract. In addition, you should not take rosemary supplements if you suffer from high blood pressure or epilepsy unless you are under the supervision of a qualified caregiver.