Rosmarinus officinalis, 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. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs. The name “rosemary” derives from the Latin for “dew” (ros) and “sea” (marinus), or “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.
Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen shrub that has leaves similar to hemlock needles. The leaves are used as a flavoring in foods such as stuffings and roast lamb, pork, chicken and turkey. It is native to the Mediterranean and Asia, but is reasonably hardy in cool climates. It can withstand droughts, surviving a severe lack of water for lengthy periods. 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. The plant flowers in spring and summer in temperate climates, but the plants can be in constant bloom in 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.
What Is Rosemary Oil?
Related to mint and looking like lavender, rosemary has leaves like flat pine needles touched with silver. It boasts of a woodsy, citrus-like fragrance that has become a feature of many kitchens, gardens, and apothecaries worldwide. It derives its name from Latin words ros (“dew”) and marinus (“sea”), or “dew of the sea.”
The Virgin Mary is said to have spread her blue cloak over a rosemary bush as she rested, and the white flowers turned blue. The shrub came to be known as the “Rose of Mary.” Rosemary was considered sacred by the Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans, and was used in the Middle Ages to ward off evil spirits and protect against the plague.
Rosemary oil has a clear, refreshing herbal smell, is clear in color, and is watery in viscosity. It is extracted from the fresh flowering tops through steam distillation, yielding 1.0 to 2.0 percent.
Its health benefits made it a favorite of Paracelsus, a German-Swiss physician and botanist who contributed greatly to the understanding of herbal medicine in the 16th century. He valued rosemary oil because of its entire body-strengthening ability, such as the healing of sensitive organs like the liver, heart, and brain.
Composition of Rosemary Oil
The main chemical components of rosemary oil include a-pinene, borneol, b-pinene, camphor, bornyl acetate, camphene, 1,8-cineole, and limonene.
A study published in Chemistry of Natural Compounds looked at the volatile compounds obtained from the essential oil of rosemary cultivated at the Algerian Sahara. Its analysis found that 30 compounds represented 98.2 percent of the essential oil, with 1,8-cineole (29.5 percent), 2-ethyl-4,5-dimethylphenol (12 percent) and camphor (11.5 percent) as the major components.
Rosemary Essential Oil Benefits
1.) For Mental Health
Rosemary oil can take that stress relief up a level – it’s incredibly potent! Simply adding some essential oil to an essential oil diffuser can be an instant stress buster for many.
A 2007 study showed that smelling rosemary 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.
A study published in Holistic Nursing Practice in 2009 found that the use of sachets containing lavender and rosemary essential oils helped reduce the anxiety associated with test-taking.
Graduate nursing students, who inhaled the scent of both lavender and rosemary oil before taking their nursing tests, found it significantly lowered their anxiety levels. They scored lower on anxiety measures, and had lower pulse rates, indicating a more relaxed state of mind.
If you’re a little overwhelmed, unsure, indecisive or confused, you may find that the soothing aroma of rosemary helps you clear your head. Everything will seem so much clearer. You should also feel less tense and stressed.
Add it to an oil burner, essential oil diffuser, reed diffuser or simply rub some on your hands and cup over your mouth and nose for up to a minute.
Learning & Memory
A little rosemary oil may stop you needing to cram the night before a big test. In addition to lowering stress and anxiety, it has also been shown to positively enhance memory.
In fact, a 2003 study showed that the aroma of rosemary produced a significant improvement in performance, quality of memory and secondary memory factors in healthy adults. It also helped them remain more alert. For full benefits, diffuse the oil through your room, inhale directly or rub over your temples.
2.) For Physical Health
Rosemary oil is one of the easiest ways to improve circulation in the body. If you’re experiencing muscle cramps, cold hands and feet or muscle soreness, then massage a little rosemary oil, mixed with a carrier oil, into these areas regularly.
Rosemary oil applied to the skin treats pain and improves circulation, meaning it might just relieve your migraine or throbbing headache. If your headache is stress related, then by using rosemary you will be alleviating the root cause of the pain.
Apply a drop topically to your temples or the aching parts of your head. You can also try rubbing it in your hands and cupping them over your mouth and nose for up to a minute.
Thanks to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties rosemary is an important essential oil for giving our immune system a helping hand when cold and flu season rolls round. One of the best ways to do this is with a relaxing and cleansing lymphatic massage using rosemary essential oil. Our lymphatic system helps to clear our body of waste. By massaging our lymph nodes, we can revive a sluggish system supercharging the body’s detoxifying abilities. Rosemary is one of the best essential oils around for stimulating movement and supporting the cleansing action.
Dilute a few drops of rosemary oil with a carrier oil (see below) and rub up your arms to the lymph nodes in your armpits. From the center of your chest, rub toward the armpit, and then down the neck. Massage your legs from your feet up to your groin.
Alleviate Muscle & Joint Pain
The German Commission E – the scientific advisory board of the German version of the FDA – has approved rosemary essential oil to treat both muscle pain and arthritis.
Simply apply a little oil to the aching joints or muscles and its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties will soon kick in.
Rosemary essential oil can be used externally for relief from symptoms of indigestion. If you’re suffering with flatulence, stomach cramps, constipation or bloating give it a try. These remedies are much gentler than laxatives or over the counter medications for digestive discomfort.
Combine it with a carrier oil and massage into the stomach. You can also try a bath with rosemary oil for the same effect. Some even say that rubbing the oil on the bottom of your feet will alleviate indigestion!
Cough, Cold & Flu Relief
To help relieve the symptoms of a cold or flu – stuffy nose, cough and congestion – try massaging one or two drops of the oil on your chest and throat every few hours.
Its antiseptic action also makes rosemary oil useful for respiratory infections.
3.) For Hair, Skin & Health
Thanks to its anti-fungal properties, rosemary can be used as a gentle and effective dandruff treatment.
And it couldn’t be simpler – pour a few drops of the oil into your shampoo and massage in well. It’s best not to use rosemary oil undiluted on your scalp as it may cause additional flaking.
Stimulate Hair Growth
Rosemary has been used for centuries, especially in the Mediterranean region, to stimulate hair growth.
One study of 84 people who had alopecia areata, which causes hair to fall out in patches, found that those who massaged their scalps with rosemary and other essential oils daily for seven months experienced significant hair regrowth compared to those who massaged their scalps without the essential oils.
Unlike alcohol-based mouthwashes, which can be drying and upset the delicate balance of good bacteria in the mouth, a homemade essential oil wash is both gentle and effective. Rosemary’s anti-microbial properties mean it will kill off the bad bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease and will even rid you of bad breath.
Mix one cup of distilled water with 20 drops of rosemary oil. If you miss the minty fresh feel of conventional mouthwashes, you could also add in some peppermint oil. Remember to shake the jar before using.
Get Rid of Cellulite
Because rosemary improves circulation which flushes out toxins, it’s an ideal oil to use to banish cellulite – those fatty dimples that are so hard to get rid of.
Add two drops of rosemary essential oil and two drops of fennel essential oil to three teaspoons of a carrier oil like olive, jojoba or almond oil. Massage this daily into the problem areas. A rosemary oil lymph massage, outlined above, will also help with cellulite.
Fade Stretch Marks
Rosemary essential oil is one of the best essential oils for removing stretch marks, especially when blended with coconut oil which happens to be another amazing stretch mark remedy. Massage over the marks regularly until they have faded.
Clear Up Acne
If you suffer from pimples or acne, then you may need to add a little anti-bacterial action to your skincare routine. We know how bad commercial anti-bacterial washes are for us, but a homemade one using rosemary essential oil is both safe and super effective.
Blend rosemary oil with castor oil, or another carrier oil of your choice. Massage in thoroughly and wash off with a warm washcloth. That’s it – your skin will feel soft and should clear up in no time.
4.) In the Garden
A Natural Insecticide
Make an all-natural insect repellent instead by mixing 10 drops each of rosemary, peppermint, thyme and clove oil in a spray bottle filled with water.
Not only does this mixture kill pests but it will also stop fungus ruining your beautiful plants. Shake before use and apply throughout the garden. It’s safe to use on your vegetable garden too!
5.) In the Home
Rosemary is a fantastic flowering plant, known to effectively repel mosquitos and other bugs, yet it still attracts butterflies to your garden.
Mix up a batch of rosemary essential oil and distilled water and keep in a spray bottle – a simple homemade version of DEET, without all the toxic chemicals. Around 10 to 20 drops per ounce of liquid should do the trick. Just remember to shake the bottle and distribute the oil before using!
A Natural Air Freshener
Freshen up your home with some rosemary essential oil.
Add a few drops to some water and spray around the house or even your car (always test in an inconspicuous area before spraying liberally on fabrics).
Multi-Purpose Cleaning Spray
Rosemary oil is an amazing oil to have on hand for kitchen countertops and more thanks to its antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and antiviral properties.
Mix a half cup distilled white vinegar, half cup water and 12 drops of rosemary oil. Decant into a spray bottle and use throughout your kitchen.
Placing some rosemary essential oil around windows and doors will stop flies and other winged bugs from coming into your home.
Uses of Rosemary Oil
I recommend using fresh rosemary-infused oil on your salads as a delicious dressing. The herb itself has a thousand uses, and it extremely hardy and therefore easy to grow and maintain whether inside or out. You can add an entire sprig to your soups for a unique flavor.
According to Modern Essentials, a guide to the therapeutic uses of essential oils, high-quality rosemary oil has analgesic, antibacterial, anticancer, anticatarrhal, antifungal, anti-infection, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and expectorant properties.
The book’s A-Z list of rosemary oil uses covers many health concerns, including for the following:
Add a drop to your hands, rub together, and cup over your mouth and nose for up to a minute
Massage one to two drops over your chest and throat every few hours
Add a drop to your hands, and cup over your mouth and nose for up to a minute. You may also apply a drop topically to the aching parts of your head.
Learning and memory
Diffuse the oil throughout the room, inhale directly from the bottle, rub over your temples, or apply to your toes regularly.
Massage one to two drops in or around the vagina, making sure to test for sensitivity before attempting internal use.
Both rosemary oil and teas are added to shampoos and lotions. Regularly using the oil helps stimulate follicles, aiding in long, strong hair growth. You can also massage your scalp with the oil to nourish it and remove dandruff. Rosemary oil can also be used on your pets as a hair growth stimulant and for helping produce shiny coats.
This essential oil is a disinfectant and is often used as a mouthwash, helping remove bad breath. By removing oral bacteria, rosemary oil can prevent cavities, plaque buildup, and other dental issues. The mesmerizing aroma of rosemary is worth nothing, too, making it an excellent inhalant. Rosemary oil is used in candles, perfumes, bath oils, fresheners, and cosmetics, boosting mental energy when inhaled.
Used with 50:50 dilution, rosemary oil can be applied on ankles and wrists (two to four drops), applied to chakras or vitaflex points, directly inhaled, diffused, or as an dietary supplement.
Oil Specific: Avoid in epilepsy, hypertension, and while pregnant. Avoid with homeopathics. General: As with all essential oils, never use them undiluted, in eyes or mucus membranes. Do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children. If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (after you have properly diluted the oil in an appropriate carrier.