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Rosemary and It’s Many Uses
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Rosemary and It’s Many Uses

Rosemary and It’s Many Uses

Rosemary and It’s Many Uses

Rosemary is one of the earliest medicinal herbs found on record and was used by many ancient cultures (and maybe most notably) Hippocrates the father of modern medicine. Rosemary is grown as an herb and it’s oils are also extracted and have been used both medicinally and in food. There are also many household uses for Rosemary some of which will be featured here. This article will teach you about Rosemary and some basic ways to use it. Please let us know your own Rosemary tips in the comments!

Salvia rosmarinus, commonly known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. Until 2017, it was known by the scientific name Rosmarinus officinalis, now a synonym. [1]

It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs such as oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender. The name “rosemary” derives from Latin ros marinus (“dew of the sea”). The plant is also sometimes called anthos, from the ancient Greek word ἄνθος, meaning “flower”. Rosemary has a fibrous root system. [1][6]

About Rosemary

Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen shrub with leaves similar to hemlock needles. It is a native of the Mediterranean and Asia, but is reasonably hardy in cool climates. It can withstand droughts, surviving a severe lack of water for lengthy periods. In some parts of the world, it is considered a potentially invasive species. The seeds are often difficult to start, with a low germination rate and relatively slow growth, but the plant can live as long as 30 years.[1]

Forms range from upright to trailing; the upright forms can reach 1.5 m (5 ft) tall, rarely 2 m (6 ft 7 in). The leaves are evergreen, 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6 in) long and 2–5 mm broad, green above, and white below, with dense, short, woolly hair. [1] 

The Rosemary plant grows like a bush and flowers in spring and summer in temperate climates, but the plants can be found to be in constant bloom in some warm climates; flowers are white, pink, purple or deep blue. Rosemary also has a tendency to flower outside its normal flowering season; it has been known to flower as late as early December, and as early as mid-February (in the northern hemisphere). [1]


Rosemary illustration from an Italian herbal, circa 1500

The first mention of rosemary is found on cuneiform stone tablets as early as 5000 BC. After that not much is known, except that Egyptians used extensively it in their burial rituals. There is no further mention of rosemary until the ancient Greeks and Romans. Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD) wrote about it in The Natural History, as did Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40 to c. 90), a Greek botanist (amongst other things). He talked about rosemary in his most famous writing, “De Materia Medica,” one of the most influential herbal books in history. [1]

The herb then made its way east to China and was naturalized there as early as 220 AD, during the late Han Dynasty. [1] Rosemary came to England at an unknown date; the Romans probably brought it when they invaded in the first century, but there are no viable records about rosemary arriving in Britain until the 8th century. This was credited to Charlemagne, who promoted herbs in general, and ordered rosemary to be grown in monastic gardens and farms. [1]

Furthermore, there are also no records of rosemary being properly naturalized in Britain until 1338, when cuttings were sent by The Countess of Hainault, Jeanne of Valois (1294–1342) to Queen Phillippa (1311–1369), wife of Edward III. It included a letter that described the virtues of rosemary and other herbs that accompanied the gift. The original manuscript can be found in the British Museum. The gift was then planted in the garden of the old palace of Westminster. After this, rosemary is found in most English herbal texts, and is widely used for medicinal and culinary purposes. [1]

Rosemary finally arrived in the Americas with early European settlers in the beginning of the 17th century. It soon was spread to South America and global distribution. [1]

Folklore and Customs

Speaking of the powers of rosemary, it overtoppeth all the flowers in the garden, boasting man’s rule. It helpeth the brain, strengtheneth the memorie, and is very medicinable for the head. Another property of the rosemary is, it affects the heart.”
Roger Hacket, 1607

The plant or its oil have been used in folk medicine in the belief it may have medicinal effects, although there is little scientific evidence it has such properties. Rosemary was considered sacred to ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. [1]

The plant has been used as a symbol for remembrance during war commemorations and funerals in Europe and Australia. Mourners would throw it into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead. In Australia, sprigs of rosemary are worn on ANZAC Day and sometimes Remembrance Day to signify remembrance; the herb grows wild on the Gallipoli Peninsula, where many Australians died during World War I. [1]

Culinary Uses

Rosemary leaves are used as a flavoring in foods, such as stuffing and roast lamb, pork, chicken, and turkey. Fresh or dried leaves are used in traditional Mediterranean cuisine. They have a bitter, astringent taste and a characteristic aroma which complements many cooked foods. Herbal tea can be made from the leaves. When roasted with meats or vegetables, the leaves impart a mustard-like aroma with an additional fragrance of charred wood that goes well with barbecued foods. [1]

Rosemary extract has been shown to improve the shelf life and heat stability of omega 3-rich oils which are prone to rancidity.[3] [1]

Do It Yourself!


Rosemary oil is used for purposes of fragrant bodily perfumes or to emit an aroma into a room. It is also burnt as incense, and used in shampoos and cleaning products.

It has a woody scent and is used as a middle note i most essential oil mixtures. [1]

Medicinal Benefits

Rosemary has leaves shaped like hemlock needles and can have either pink, white, blue, or purple flowers. Rosemary has a wide range of possible health benefits. [6]


Laboratory studies have shown rosemary to be rich in antioxidants, which play an important role in neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals. [6]


Rosemary is also a rich source of anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. [6]

Improving Digestion

In Europe, rosemary is often used to help treat indigestion. In fact, Germany’s “Commission E” has approved rosemary for the treatment of indigestion. However, it should be noted that there is currently no meaningful scientific evidence to support this claim. [6]

Stress and Anxiety Relief

A 2007 study showed that smelling rosemary oil  and lavender oil actually decreased the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the saliva. Excess cortisol can cause oxidative stress, weight gain, high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease.

Simply adding some essential oil to an essential oil diffuser or just inhaling some that you rub gently on your body can be an instant stress buster for many. Rosemary oil can take that stress relief up a level – it’s incredibly potent! [9]

Enhancing Memory and Concentration

According to research outlined in “Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology,” the aroma from rosemary can improve a person’s concentration, performance, speed, and accuracy and, to a lesser extent, their mood. [6]

Neurological Protection

Scientists have found that rosemary may also be good for your brain. Rosemary contains an ingredient called carnosic acid, which can fight off damage by free radicals in the brain.Some studies in rats have identified that rosemary might be useful for people who have experienced a stroke. Rosemary appears to be protective against brain damage and might improve recovery. [6]

Prevent Brain Aging

Some studies have suggested that rosemary may significantly help prevent brain aging. The therapeutic ability of rosemary for prevention of Alzheimer’s shows promise, but more studies are needed. [6]


Research published in “Oncology Reports” found that “crude ethanolic rosemary extract (RO)” slowed the spread of human leukemia and breast carcinoma cells.” Another study, published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, concluded that rosemary might be useful as an anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent. Also, a report published in the Journal of Food Science revealed that adding rosemary extract to ground beef reduces the formation of cancer-causing agents that can develop during cooking. [6]

Protection Against Macular Degeneration

A study published in the journal “Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science,” led by Dr. Stuart A. Lipton, Ph.D. and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, revealed that a carnosic acid, which is a major component of rosemary, can significantly promote eye health. This could have clinical applications for diseases affecting the outer retina, such as age-related macular degeneration – the most common eye disease in the United States. [6]


Rosemary contains a number of phytochemicals, including rosmarinic acid, camphor, caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, carnosic acid, and carnosol.[4]

 Rosemary essential oil contains 10–20% camphor. [1] [5]

Rosemary extract has been shown to improve the shelf life and heat stability of omega 3-rich oils which are prone to rancidity.[3]

Salvia rosmarinus is now considered one of many hundreds of species in the genus Salvia. Formerly it was placed in a much smaller genus, Rosmarinus, which contained only two to four species including R. officinalis, which is now considered a synonym of S. rosmarinus. The other species most often recognized is the closely related, Salvia jordanii (formerly Rosmarinus eriocalyx), of the Maghreb of Africa and Iberia. [1]

The name of ros marinus is the plant’s ancient name in classical Latin. Elizabeth Kent noted in her Flora Domestica (1823), “The botanical name of this plant is compounded of two Latin words, signifying Sea-dew; and indeed Rosemary thrives best by the sea.”[10] Both the original and current genus names of the species were applied by the 18th-century naturalist and founding taxonomist Carl Linnaeus.

Rosmarinus angustifolius Mill. Rosmarinus communis Noronha Rosmarinus flexuosus Jord. & Fourr. Rosmarinus latifolius Mill. Rosmarinus ligusticus Gand. Rosmarinus officinalis L. Rosmarinus palaui (O.Bolòs & Molin.) Rivas Mart. & M.J.Costa Rosmarinus prostratus Mazziari Rosmarinus rigidus Jord. & Fourr. Rosmarinus tenuifolius Jord. & Fourr. Salvia fasciculata Fernald [1]



Flowering rosemary
Scientific classification
Species:S. rosmarinus
Binomial nameSalvia rosmarinus


  1. Wikipedia – RoseMary –
  2. Medical News Today – Everything you Need to Know about RoseMary – –includes list of many medical studies that show Rosemary’s medicinal properties. 
  3. Daniells, Stephen (20 November 2017). “Oregano, rosemary extracts promise omega-3 preservation”. Food Navigator.
  4. Vallverdú-Queralt, Anna; Regueiro, Jorge; Martínez-Huélamo, Miriam; Rinaldi Alvarenga, José Fernando; Leal, Leonel Neto; Lamuela-Raventos, Rosa M. (2014). “A comprehensive study on the phenolic profile of widely used culinary herbs and spices: Rosemary, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, cumin and bay”. Food Chemistry. 154: 299–307. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.12.106. PMID 24518346.
  5. “Rosemary | Professional”. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  6. “Everything you need to Know about Rosemary” – Health benefits, precautions, and drug interactions.” –
  7. “Twenty Ways to Use Rosemary” –
  8. “3 Ways to Dry Rosemary” –
  9. “21 Magical Uses and Benefits of Rosemary”
  10. Learn – Rosemary –

Additional References:

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