Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ROSEMARY - Rosmarinus Officinalis (Medicinal Herbs)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb with an attractive fragrant evergreen shrub with pine needle-like leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which also includes many other herbs.

The name rosemary has nothing to do with the rose or the name Mary, but derives from the Latin name rosmarinus, which literally means "dew of the sea", though some think this too may be derived from an earlier name. It is also a symbol or remembrance and friendship, and is often carried by wedding couples as a sign of love and fidelity.

History and Tradition

Tradition says that rosemary will grow for thirty-three years, until it reaches the height of Christ when he was crucified, then it will die. Sprigs of rosemary were placed under pillows at night to ward off evil spirits and bad dreams. The wood was used to make lutes and other musical instruments.

We continue to use rosemary in many of the same ways that our ancestors did: in potpourris to freshen the air, and in cosmetics, disinfectants and shampoos.

'[Rosemary] comforteth the cold, weak and feeble brain in a
most wonderful manner.' --Gerard

'Make thee a box of the wood of rosemary and smell to it and it
shall preserve thy youth.' --Banckes' Herbal

Medicinal Uses

Several studies done in the last several years show that oil from the leaves of the very plant sold as a spice for flavoring can help prevent the development of cancerous tumors in laboratory animals. One study, led by Chi-Tang Ho, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Food Science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, showed that applying rosemary oil to the skin of experimental animals reduced their risk of cancer to half that found in animals that did not receive the application of oil. In other studies by the same research team, animals whose diets contained some rosemary oil had about half the incidence of colon cancer or lung cancer compared with animals not eating rosemary. And researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana found that rosemary cut by half the incidence of breast cancer in animals at high risk for developing the disease. Future studies will demonstrate whether these properties extend to humans as well.

Though these experiments have used rosemary oil to test the effectiveness in preventing cancer, the oil should not be taken internally. Even small doses can cause stomach, kidney and intestinal problems, and large amounts may be poisonous. Use a tea instead. Pregnant women should not use the herb medicinally, although it's okay to use it as a seasoning.

Other Medicinal Properties

Rosemary helps to relax muscles, including the smooth muscles of the digestive tract and uterus. Because of this property it can be used to soothe digestive upsets and relieve menstrual cramps. When used in large amounts it can have the opposite effect, causing irritation of the intestines and cramps. A tea made form the leaves is also taken as a tonic for calming nerves and used as an antiseptic.

Rosemary makes a pleasant-tasting tea. Use one teaspoon of crushed dried leaves in a cup of boiling water and steep for ten minutes.

Cosmetic Uses

Use an infusion as a rinse to lighten blond hair, and to condition and tone all hair. Try mixing an infusion half and half with shampoo to strengthen hair.

An infusion can also be used as an invigorating toner and astringent. Rosemary added to a bath strengthens and refreshes, especially when used following an illness.

Culinary Uses

Rosemary and lamb go well together. Make slits in lamb for roasting and tuck in sprigs of the herb. Place larger sprigs over chops for grilling and use chopped leaves sparingly in soups and stews. Use rosemary in bouquets garnis and sparingly with fish and in rice dishes.

Health Precautions | Possible Side Effects

Rosemary in culinary or therapeutic doses is generally safe; however, precaution is necessary for those displaying allergic reaction or prone to epileptic seizures. Rosemary essential oil may have epileptogenic properties, as a handful of case reports over the past century have linked its use with seizures in otherwise healthy adults or children. Rosemary essential oil is potentially toxic if ingested. Large quantities of rosemary leaves can cause adverse reactions, such as coma, spasm, vomiting, and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) that can be fatal. Avoid consuming large quantities of rosemary if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Rosemary may also be useful in the prevention and treatment of headlice.

2 comments:

Pamela January 25, 2010 at 3:54 AM  

An alternative way of keeping your hair healthy and out of baldness territory is the usage of herbal medicine. There are many herbs such as Aloe Vera and Rosemary that have been used for centuries to control and strenghten hair growth. An interesting sort of pepper called Capsicum and Lemongrass are also prefered from herb specialists all over the world as a good and effective baldness cure.

Cutis Medical December 26, 2012 at 1:05 AM  

The entire realm of rosemary uses and benefits. I need to use the herb more in routine preparation


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