Rosemary Benefits: Great In Our Kitchens And Our Bodies
Here is an herb that needs no introduction, unless you go formal and introduce it by its botanical name Rosmarinus officinalis
Rosemary is a family-friendly herb synonymous with Sunday roasts, but rosemary benefits so much more than flavour.
It has been revered since ancient times for cultivating wisdom, mental clarity and fidelity. It featured heavily at weddings, funerals and in magical spells - symbolising loyalty, memory and purity.
Rosemary persists as a token of remembrance, notably for those lost in war.
Being a hardy Mediterranean herb, the straight, woody, dark-green stems of rosemary are extremely aromatic, containing volatile oils and acids that offer supreme antioxidant protection.
Traditionally used for enhanced brain function, digestion, circulation, mood and wound-healing, rosemary benefits us in ways that also check-out via modern science, too.
Like the plant itself, which is robust and resilient, rosemary is said to impart a certain stoic toughness on those who consume it.
Miss Anne Pratt, a respected herbalist from the 1800s, summarised rosemary’s benefits with the line:
“It helpeth the brain, strengtheneth the memorie, and is very medicinable for the head.”
While by the language of today that might seem a little silly, she seems to have pretty much nailed the main rosemary benefits in a single sentence.
According to myth, the Virgin Mary is said to have spread her blue cloak over a white-blossomed rosemary bush when she was resting, and the flowers turned blue. The shrub then became known as the "Rose of Mary”.
Reaping The Rewards Of Rosemary Benefits
Thanks to strong antioxidant activity at play, rosemary has the ability to scavenge free-radicals and protect the human body at the cellular level.
As a testament to these extraordinary powers of protection, rosemary extract is widely used in the food industry as a preserver of meats and perishables.
In particular, it prevents the oxidation of saturated animal fats, which is another reason it’s traditionally paired with lamb and chicken in cooking - I for one cannot fathom a decent chicken stuffing or bolognese sauce without it!
Beyond rosemary’s super-antioxidant status and ability to punch flavour into food, there is a list of other well known beneficial factors.
Rosemary acts as an antispasmodic (especially for the digestive and respiratory systems, as well as period pain).It also works in the following ways:
Analgesic (pain relieving)
Cholagogue (enhancing production and flow of bile from the gallbladder)
Rubefacient (an agent that encourages blood flow to the surface of the skin)
Antirheumatic (helpful for arthritis)
A variety of active constituents are responsible for these actions, including volatile oils, rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, carnosic acid, rosmanol, carnosol, different diterpenes, alkaloids and esters.
Rosemary Benefits The Body In Specific Ways
With all of these features, rosemary may aid the body by:
→ Boosting mental alertness, mood and memory
This may be due to enhanced circulation to the head, antioxidant protection of the brain and effects on mood, concentration and focus. Even the aroma of rosemary has been scientifically proven to benefit the nervous system, with studies showing that rosemary essential oil can boost recollection, brain activity and feelings of general ‘freshness’.
Some studies in mice even show an antidepressant effect. Rosemary aside, I’d like to know how they can tell the mice are depressed?
→ Protecting the brain in old age
Carnosic acid has been shown to prevent the formation of plaques, thought to be responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. It may also protect against stroke and general neurodegeneration. Rosemary leaf extract works with the gotu kola content in Athletic Greens to target improved circulation to the brain, and may improve memory.
→ Supporting the liver and cardiovascular system
Not only by offering protection for the brain, but also the cells and tissue of the liver, heart and circulatory system, fighting free-radical damage. Rosemary appears to enhance both phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification pathways.
It may have greater benefits in this area when supported by the milk thistle, dandelion root and globe artichoke also in Athletic Greens.
→ Soothing and enhancing digestive function
Traditionally paired with rich meats, rosemary has a positive effect on the gallbladder - increasing the production and flow of bile and digestion of fats. Coupled with globe artichoke for increasing bile, and the ginger rhizome in Athletic Greens, it can also help to reduce any digestive discomfort.
As well as that, the volatile oils prevent spasm and gas.
→ Treating headaches
The essential oil derived from rosemary is often sold to help with reducing pain in the body, including headaches.
→ Improving circulation
→ Wounds and skin disorders (via its mild antiseptic and circulatory stimulant effects)
→ Arthritis and joint pain
→ Reducing muscle pain
→ Menstrual pain (thanks to antispasmodic effects)
→ Hair loss
Rosemary - either as an oil or extract - was traditionally applied to the scalp to improve the quality of hair, or help it grow back. By stimulating blood flow (and as a result, nutrient transport) to the skin and follicles, it’s theoretically possible, but lacking in scientific support
→ Protection against food poisoning
Rosemary has been shown to inhibit food-borne bugs like Listeria monocytogenes, B. cereus, and S. aureus
→ Cancer prevention
Preliminary evidence suggests that rosemary can stop cancer cells replicating, and has been shown, especially in combination with curcurmin, to assist in breast and colon cancer.
That is quite an impressive list for an herb that is so readily available and easy to grow
Balancing Rosemary Benefits
It’s generally considered as a safe herb for general use, though the highly volatile oil content can cause side effects in high doses, such as nausea, vomiting, pulmonary edema and coma.
Rosemary is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, children under 18 (but it is unlikely you’ll get ID’d if you are buying it) and those with high blood pressure, inflammatory bowel disease or diabetes.
Rosemary dosages depend on the individual, however, consumption of more than 6 grams - a decent teaspoon full - per day is not recommended.
Like so many other potent natural remedies it is cautioned for those taking blood thinning medication such as Warfarin, blood pressure medication, diuretics or lithium. So proceed with caution if this applies to you.
Rosemary is a well known, and increasingly well supported herb for human health. Most impressive are its powers of antioxidant protection, with a proven ability to scavenge free radicals and prevent the oxidation of fats.
These positive effects are particularly apparent in the brain - with studies to support a wide range of beneficial effects on cognition, mood, prevention of neurodegeneration and memory.
Rosemary is also accepted as a digestive aid, analgesic and possible cancer-preventative herb.
Apart from with the occasional roast meat dish, most people do not consume rosemary on a regular basis and definitely not in a quantity to have an affect on our health.
Being an herb with a powerful aroma and presence can have its downsides, and there are people who do not enjoy the taste or smell of rosemary. This is a shame, given rosemary benefits us in so many ways.
Luckily getting it as part of Athletic Greens means rosemary never needs to know how you really feel about it.