The small aromatic herb of rosemary is frequently used as a food preservative and in traditional Mediterranean cuisine as flavor enhancer. But rosemary also brings with it a number of health benefits as well.
Historical Uses Of Rosemary
Traditionally, rosemary has been used to treat painful menstruation and pain caused by kidney stones. In modern use, rosemary oils are often used with aromatherapy to help relieve anxiety and help increase alertness. Other uses have also been used to stimulate growth of hair and to relieve respiratory symptoms. The most well-studied constituents of rosemary are caffeic acid and its derivative rosmarinic acid. These compounds are thought to have antioxidant properties and are under investigation as potential therapies for cancer, liver toxicity, and inflammatory conditions.
Nonetheless, a human trials showing the health benefits of rosemary are still lacking but a there are a small number of studies out there showing some insight as to what rosemary has to offer. So far the best studies show promise in how rosemary effects our mental state.
Health Benefits Of Rosemary On Mood:
Of all the health benefits that rosemary is said to have, the one that research shows to have the best actual effects on is are mood. Rosemary extract is commonly used in aromatherapy for it’s supposed benefits in mental like reducing anxiety, enhancing your mood, increasing alertness, and enhancing memory recall (1,4).
There’s a few studies out there showing what rosemary can do on mood. What’s found in research is that, rosemary scents produced an enhancement of overall quality of memory and increased alertness. On the flip side, the group that had rosemary aromatherapy had a slower speed of recall versus the control group without memory (2).
Another group of people went through EEG exams – an exam that measures brain wave activity. EEG activity showed increased alertness and lower anxiety (3).
Health Benefits Of Rosemary On Heart Health
Antioxidants are key and can have many, many health benefits that all include stroke and heart attack prevention (by reducing cholesterol oxidation) as well as reducing inflammation inside the body. Here are some of the health benefits of rosemary antioxidants:
Clots are a major cause of strokes and heart attacks – often times a diet that contributes to inflammatory factors or clotting factors increases the risk for blood clotting. In one study, rosemary leaves were crushed and extract from the leaves was obtained and given to mice – the results showed a decrease in blood clotting (5). Another study in mice showed that high fat diet including 5% rosemary leaves or 0.5% dry leaves also reduced clotting time (6).
Rosemary extracts were shown to act like ACE-inhibitors – a class of medications responsible for lowering blood pressure (7).
High doses of rosemary have been shown to reduce inflammation in the kidneys (8). High doses as in 100mg/kg/day of rosemary extract…
Health Benefits Of Rosemary On Alopecia
One of the other common uses of rosemary oil is for the treatment of balding where rosemary oil is massaged into the scalp. One study took over eighty people with alopecia. The study actually confirmed that after seven months of massaging rosemary oil into the scalp, 44% of the people had an improvement (9). I know what you’re probably thinking – awesome, I can use rosemary oil for my male pattern baldness. Well, not too fast. This study focused on alopecia areata which is different than androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness).
Problems With Studies On Rosemary
Most of the studies have either been performed on animals or on really small groups of people. The best research on rosemary reflects the effects of rosemary scents and mood – reducing anxiety and increasing alertness. To get most of the health benefits of rosemary such as lowered blood pressure and anti-coagulation effects, you’re going to need a whole lot of rosemary. For example, in one study that showed it’s blood pressure lowering benefits, five grams of dried leaves were extracted into 100ml of water…that’s a whole lot of rosemary. The overall point is to get a well balanced diet rather than focusing on one type of food.
Problems With Studies On Rosemary
Most of the studies have either been performed on animals or on really small groups of people. The best research on rosemary reflects the effects of rosemary scents and mood – reducing anxiety and increasing alertness. To get most of the health benefits of rosemary such as lowered blood pressure and anti-coagulation effects, you’re going to need a whole lot of rosemary. For example, in one study that showed it’s blood pressure lowering benefits, five grams of dried leaves were extracted into 100ml of water…that’s a whole lot of rosemary. The overall point is to get a well balanced diet rather than focusing on one type of food. For example…do you like eggs? Well, add a sprig of rosemary to your eggs for a burst of flavor.
How To Get The Best Of Your Rosemary:
Cooking and food storage always has an effect on what’s inside your food. To get the best bang for your buck, freezing, simmering, soup making, and stewing significantly increased the antioxidant capacity of rosemary while grilling, stir frying, and storing herbs in vinegar all decreased it’s antioxidant benefits (10).
When To Avoid Rosemary:
It goes without saying, if you have any skin reactions to oil containing rosemary extract, stay away from it at all costs. The same goes for any respiratory issues caused by rosemary scents. As for rosemary ingestion, high amounts of rosemary extracts in humans haven’t been accurately studied and some high doses of rosemary can cause hormone altering activity – so use cautiously if you are trying to become pregnant (1). Stick to making rosemary a part of a well-balanced diet and to its aromatherapy benefits.
1. N.p. “Rosemary.” Natural Standard – The Authority On Integrative Medicine. 2014. Web. 7 June 2014.
2. Cook, J., Duckett, P., Moss, M., Wesnes, K. “Aromas Of Rosemary and Lavendar Essential Oils Differently Affect Cognition and Mood In Healthy Adults.” International Journal Of Neuroscience. Jan. 2003. Web. 7 June 2014.
3. Diego, M., Field, T., Galamaga, M., Galamaga, Hernandez-Reif, M., R., Jones, N., Kuhn, C., McAdam, V., Schanberg, S. “Aromatherapy Positively Affects Mood, EEG Paterns Of Alertness And Math Computations.” International Journal Of Neuroscience. Dec. 1998. Web. 7 June 2014.
4. Burnett, K., Solterbeck, L. Strapp, C. “Scent and Mood State Following An Anxiety-Provoking Task.” Journal of Psychological Reports. Oct. 2004. Web. 6 June 2014.
5. Arai, R., Naemura, A., Yamada, K., Yamamoto, J., Yamashita, T. “Testing Various Herbs For Antitrhombotic Effect.” Journal Of Nutrition. May 2005. Web. 6 June 2014.
6. Arai, R., Naemura, A., Ura, M., Yamashita, T., Yamamoto, J. “Long-term Intake Of Rosemary and Common Thyme Herbs Inhibits Experimental Thrombosis Without Prolongation Of Bleeding Time.” Journal Of Thrombosis Research. 2008. Web. 7 June 2014.
7. Kwon, Y., Shetty, K., Vattem, D. “Evaluation Of Clonal Herbs Of Lamiaceae Species For Management Of Diabetes and Hypertension.” Asia Pacific Journal Of Clinical Nutrition. 2006. Web. 7 June 2014.
8. Honda, G., Liu, N., Nakamura, T., Makino, T., Muso, E. “Suppressive Effects Of Rosmarinic Acid On Mesangioproliferative Glomerulonephritis In Rats.” Nephron. Dec. 2002. Web 6 June 2014.
9. Hay, I., Jamieson, M., Ormerod, A. “Randomized Trial Of Aromatherapy. Successful Treatment For Alopecia Areata.” Archives Of Dermatology. Nov. 1998. Web. 6 June 2014.
10. Chohan, M., Forster-Wilkins, G., Opara, E. “Determination Of The Antioxidant Capacity Of Culinary Herbs Subjected To Various Cooking and Storage Processes Using The ABTS(*+) Radical Cation Assay.” Plant Foods For Human Nutrition. June 2008. Web. 7 June 2014.