Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosmarinus officinalis, better known as rosemary, is an evergreen perennial herb with green needle-like leaves, woody stems and a strong aromatic scent. A native plant in the Mediterranean, it has been cultivated in many countries for medicinal and culinary use. Rosemary plants can survive solely on moisture derived from humidity in the air providing the basis for its name, which translates as “dew of the sea.”

 
Rosemary provides a number of beneficial vitamins and nutrients. One tablespoon of fresh rosemary contains 1percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and iron and provides 6.2 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids and 6.7 milligrams of Omega-6. Dried rosemary supplies a higher concentration of these nutrients, with 2 percent Vitamin A, 3 percent Vitamin C, 4 percent calcium, and 5 percent iron of the RDA.
 
The leaves and twigs of the rosemary plant have been used medicinally for centuries to improve memory and increase energy levels. Mixed with wine, fresh rosemary tops were used to treat gout in a concoction known as Hungary Water.
 
Rosemary has also been used to stimulate hair growth and has been proven effective in treating hair loss in laboratory studies. As an aid to digestion, rosemary leaf has been approved for patients with dyspepsia and offers significant relief to pain and discomfort from stomach cramps. Additionally, a topical solution of rosemary has been shown to improve circulation and reduce joint and muscle pain due to overstrain or arthritis.
 
Traditionally, the primary medical use of rosemary has been as a memory aid. Recent scientific studies have borne out rosemary’s beneficial effects on memory and mental conditions. Carnosic acid, a component of rosemary, is currently being evaluated as a possible treatment for a number of neurodegenerative diseases due to its efficacy as a shield against free radicals.
 
Rosemary is also being tested as an anti-carcinogen. Recent studies have shown a reduction in mammary tumors in rats and may offer hope to human cancer patients. Large doses of rosemary should not be ingested by individuals with epilepsy or iron deficiencies, as it can potentially worsen these conditions.