I keep a rosemary topiary in a pot at my front door and run my hands through its branches regularly to send the delightful smell wafting through the air. While rosemary is known by most people as a seasoning for meat and poultry dishes, more and more research confirms its many health benefits. Officially known as Rosmarinus officinalis, there are many research-proven health benefits and uses for this fragrant and healing herb.
Related: 17 Delicious, Meatless Ways to Cook with Rosemary
Increase Blood Flow to the Brain
Shakespeare’s Ophelia stated “there’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember.” New research shows that she was right. Rosemary has been found to increase blood flow to the brain, which in turn helps to oxygenate the brain. This could be one of the reasons why it is known to boost memory and concentration.
Helps Memory Formation
Research in the journal Fitoterapia found that rosemary’s ability to prevent the natural breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a critical brain communicator which tends to happen as we age, could hold an important key in the prevention and treatment of dementia. Acetylcholine is involved in the formation of new memories, so ensuring adequate amounts can be helpful for both short-term and long-term memory.
Reduces Plaque Buildup in the Blood Vessels
Research in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that regular consumption of rosemary can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Boosts Hair Growth
Excessive testosterone can cause hair thinning in both men and women. In an article published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, scientists found that applying an extract made of rosemary leaves improved hair regrowth in animals affected by excess amounts of testosterone. Scientists found that the rosemary extract appears to block dihydrotestosterone, an active form of testosterone, from binding to androgen receptor sites. In doing so, rosemary encouraged hair regrowth.
Helps Prevent and Treat Prostate Cancer
According to preliminary research published in the online journal PLoS One, one of rosemary’s many active compounds known as carnosic acid demonstrated selective activity against prostate cancer cells, as opposed to healthy cells. Obviously more research needs to be done, but this study suggests that rosemary extract may hold promise in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
Rosemary contains numerous anti-inflammatory compounds that make it an excellent choice to help with inflammatory conditions, which most are.
Rosemary also contains compounds that boost digestion.
Packs a Serious Punch to Superbugs
Rosemary essential oil, as part of a blend of essential oils including cinnamon and oregano, has been found to have potent antibacterial and antiviral actions, including against the H1N1 virus as well as the antibiotic resistant bacterial infections S. aureus and S. pneumoniae.
You can use the dried needles in your cooking. Rosemary is great in soups, stews and in roasted potatoes.
Add fresh sprigs or finely minced fresh rosemary needles to tomato sauces, omelettes and vegetable dishes, particularly roasted vegetables.
Rosemary Hair Tonic
In a medium pot, bring one quart (or one liter) of water to a boil. Add two or three sprigs of fresh rosemary or two tablespoons of dried rosemary, turn off the heat and cover. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. Allow to cool then remove the rosemary sprigs and pour the liquid into a bottle. Store in the refrigerator up to one week. Pour the liquid over your scalp and leave it in your hair as it dries. Alternatively, spritz on your freshly washed, towel-dried hair daily. For best results continue daily for one to two months.
Add two teaspoons of dried rosemary needles or a 4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary to boiled water, and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain and drink three cups daily.
Follow package instructions for the alcohol-extract you choose. A typical dose is 30 drops three times daily.
Rosemary essential oil
Choose a high quality, undiluted product and follow package instructions for use.
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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include the upcoming book: : Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty & Cooking.