The Various Ways to Use Rosemary
Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe and Asia, where it has been used in cuisine, fragrance, and medicine for millennia. Ancient Egyptians used rosemary in burial rituals, while Ancient Greek and Romans mention the herb in their writings, and the herb is part of several herbal recipes in the Ayurveda. The plant itself, Salvia Rosmarinus, is actually related to mint, oregano, and basil, but unlike those herbs, it has long and prickly leaves.
The leaves of the plant are often dried out and used to prepare tea, but fresh leaves can likewise be used to make rosemary tea. Apart from that, the leaves are often used as a spice in salads, stews, and meat and fish dishes. Finally, rosemary essential oil is also widely available and has its own applications, such as promotion of hair growth and repelling blood-sucking bugs, just to name a few.
The herb is rich in antioxidants, which are considered to be the backbone of the herb's potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. When added to food, the herb can also contribute to one's calcium, iron, and vitamin B6 intake. Below we list the health benefits of rosemary and explain how it may improve your health, well-being, and appearance.
1. Prevents Vision Loss
A compound called carnosic acid, which rosemary contains, has been found to prevent retinal damage in a 2012 study. Carnosic acid is one of the many antioxidants the herb offers, and it was shown to prevent retinal degeneration in rodents, but the researchers also suggest that the compound may be beneficial at preventing macular degeneration - one of the leading causes of vision loss in seniors.
2. Rosemary Eases Arthritis Pain
Rosemary essential oil applied topically may be also beneficial to those who suffer from joint inflammation, stiffness, swelling, and pain. This is particularly true for arthritis patients, as the oil has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the joints. In one study, patients with rheumatoid arthritis received massages with a rosemary oil blend, and their pain and other symptoms decreased by 50% after just 2 weeks of treatment. The oil may also boost circulation in the area, further improving the symptoms.
3. Rosemary Slows Down Brain Aging
As we age, fewer neurons in our brain remain active, which is known to cause symptoms like forgetfulness, cognitive decline, and many others, ranging all the way to serious neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease.
The antioxidant activity of powdered rosemary, consumed in moderate doses, seems to slow down the process of brain aging and the death of brain cells in senior populations, as suggested in a number of studies.
* It needs to be noted, however, that excessive doses of the herb were shown to have the opposite effect.
4. Rosemary Can Work As a Bug Repellant
Rosemary essential oil is also very effective at repelling certain blood-sucking insects, such as ticks and mosquitoes. For example, one study found that a spray with 12.5% rosemary oil mixed in managed to deter 100% of the mosquitoes that cause the Zika virus for 90 minutes. A similar article found that a 10% solution of rosemary essential oil managed to repel black-legged ticks, carriers of Lyme disease, just as well as a synthetic repellant.
So, you should definitely try mixing rosemary extract or oil into a spray bottle with water as a bug repellant on your next hiking trip!
5. Rosemary Offers Some Cancer Protection
Oxidative stress is believed to be one of the contributing factors of degenerative diseases, including cancer, and antioxidant-rich rosemary may be able to prevent the development of cancerous growths. Studies of leukemia and breast cancer have revealed a positive effect of rosemary extract.
Interestingly, there's also some evidence that adding rosemary to ground beef while cooking may decrease the number of cancer-causing compounds that appear during the cooking process, so it might be useful to start adding rosemary to your burger patties, too, just in case.
6. Rosemary Improves Digestion
Rosemary tea is famous, especially in European countries, as a remedy for symptoms of indigestion, especially heartburn and flatulence. It is also said to improve the appetite in people who have trouble regaining it. It is unclear what compounds in rosemary are responsible for the beneficial effects, but in Germany, the herb is an approved treatment of indigestion.
7. Rosemary Promotes Hair Growth
One of the most traditional uses of rosemary is for hair loss and scalp issues, such as dandruff, by adding in a few drops of the oil mixed with a carrier oil (such as grapeseed oil, for example) and rubbing into the scalp daily. Research shows that rosemary essential oil is just as effective as minoxidil, the active ingredient in many hair growth treatments, at promoting hair growth in male pattern baldness.
The oil is likewise effective at improving hair growth in patchy hair loss, showing a 40% improvement on average after 7 months of use in one research article.
8. Rosemary Helps Prevent Kidney Damage in Diabetic Patients
Diabetic patients often suffer from renal damage as a result of their condition, and research suggests that a commercially available blend of rosemary and other herbs can potentially decrease the damage when combined with standard anti-diabetic treatments. Rosemary herbal tea is likewise said to be beneficial for the kidneys.
9. Helps Concentration and Memory
Applying a few drops of rosemary essential oil on one's wrists before reading or doing a demanding activity could potentially increase alertness and concentration, whereas consuming rosemary extract daily was shown to improve memory in young adults. It has been suggested that this might be the case because the smell of the herb somehow slows down the destruction of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in memory and concentration.
It has also been suggested that rosemary aromatherapy can decrease stress levels, but it doesn't seem to apply to all people, as some participants were actually more stressed after being exposed to the smell of rosemary compared to base levels.
10. Improves Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is just as dangerous as hypertension, and one of the possible ways to raise both the systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure is rosemary oil. Administering the oil three times a day was shown to increase the blood pressure, an effect that stopped when the treatment was discontinued, which suggests it was indeed effective.
11. Protects Skin from Sunburns
Sunscreen is the best way to prevent sunburns, of course, but if you want to further boost the effectiveness of sunscreen, especially if you're planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, rosemary is your herb of choice. While the effectiveness of rosemary for sunburn prevention has only been tested on a product that also contained grapefruit extract, but consuming the herb alone may also be beneficial at boosting your natural sun protection.
12. Rosemary Is Beneficial for Relieving Gum Disease Symptoms
The antimicrobial effects of rosemary make it an excellent ingredient in mouthwash. One study even showed that a mouthwash that contained rosemary and other herbs was just as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash at relieving symptoms of gum disease, such as swelling, pain, and redness. To make your own rosemary mouthwash, you can simply add a few drops of rosemary oil into any mouthwash you're using.
Who Shouldn't Use Rosemary
Pregnant women, people suffering from high blood pressure, and those who take blood-thinning medications, lithium, and diuretics should consult their doctor before using rosemary oil or any supplement that contains rosemary, as this herb can affect the effectiveness of your medication or your health if not taken under strict supervision.
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