Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) belongs to the Lamiaceae, commonly known as the mint family. The flowers are purplish white and strongly two-lipped, and have two long-exserted stamens. The fruit consists of four dry nutlets. Rosmarinus officinalis contains a number of biologically active compounds, including antioxidants rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid. Other compounds include camphor, ursolic acid, caffeic acid, betulinic acid, rosmanol and rosemary diphenol.
Rosemary Herb Health Effects and Benefits
Researches has shown that the plant is rich in volatile oils, phenolic acids and flavonoids, which are strongly anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Relaxes smooth muscles of trachea and intestine, and has choleretic, hepatoprotective and anti tumorigenic effect. Rosmarinic acid enhances the production of prostaglandin E2 and decreases the production of leukotriene B4 in human polymorphonuclear leucocytes, and inhibits the complement syste. This constituents have a therapeutic effect in therapy or prevention of bronchial asthma, peptic ulcer, spasmogenic disorders, inflammatory conditions, cancer, atherosclerosis, ischaemic heart disease and hepatotoxicity. The German Commission E (an official government agency similar to the FDA) Monographs, approve Rosemary for rheumatism, dyspeptic complaints, loss of appetite, blood pressure problems.
Rosemary may stimulate hair growth. Rosemary oil applied to the scalp with cedarwood, lavender, and thyme oils daily improves hair growth. There is some findings that after seven months of therapy, this combination improves hair growth in 44% of people who try it.
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. The rosmarinic acid in rosemary has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects which help lessen inflammation of joints. There is a study reported in the Sep 2007 edition of Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology demonstrated rosemary, in combination with other plants, was effective way to lessen pain in individuals who suffer from osteoarthritis. Applied topically, rosemary oil is used to treat muscle pain and arthritis and to improve circulation. The Commission E, has approved rosemary essential oil as a topical therapy for muscle pain and arthritis.
Inhaling the aroma of rosemary oil may help stimulate mental activity and improve concentration. A 2003 study in “International Journal of Neuroscience“, performed by the scientists at the University of Northumbria, demonstrated that rosemary is linked with “an enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors,” though it was also linked with a reduction memory speed compared to the control group in that study. Terpenes like 1,8-cineole can enter the bloodstream via the nasal or lung mucosa. Terpenes can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Comprising 35-45% by volume of rosemary essential oil, 1,8-cineole may possess direct medicinal activities. Scientists from “Northumbria University” found that the level of 1,8-cineole, a main chemical in rosemary oil, in the blood is linked with brain performance. The researchers tested cognitive performance and mood in a cohort of 20 participant, who were exposed to different levels of the rosemary aroma. They found that the more 1,8-cineole in the bloodstream of the person, the better the person’s performance on both the speed and accuracy tests. (Their study was reported in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology)
Researches, show that carnosic acid activates a signaling pathway that protects brain cells from free radical damage seen in stroke and other conditions such as Alzheimer’s diseases and Parkinson’s. Research reported in both “The Journal of Neurochemistry and Nature Reviews Neuroscience”, has revealed that carnosic acid activates a signaling pathway that protects brain cells from the free radical damage. Other researches demonstrate that rosmarinic acid which is also protects brain cells from beta-amyloid toxicity. Scientists at the “Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine“, investigated the preventive properties of rosmarinic acid on lab animals with cognitive dysfunction resulting from amyloid beta protein. After several doses of Rosmarinus officinalis extract, the animals showed a higher level of performance on memory tests, including a maze run and object recognition.
The two key ingredients in rosemary (rosemarinic acid and caffeic acid) are strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components, which help protect the body’s cells from damage by free radicals. Animal and cell culture studies indicate the anticancer activity of rosemary extract, carnosic acid, carnosol, rosmarinic acid and ursolic acid. This is evidenced by the effect of rosemary to suppress the development of tumors in different organs including the colon, stomach, liver, breast, as well as leukemia and melanoma.
Dietary of lab animals with 1% rosemary extract resulted in a 47% reduction in the incidence of experimentally-induced mammary tumors compared to controls. A 2006 study at the “University of Rajasthan” investigated rosmarinic acid, on mice with stage II skin cancer. Rosmarinic acid was shown to suppress tumorigenesis, the formation of new tumors. A new study on human cancer cell lines at the “University of British Columbia“, found that rosemary’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects inhibit the growth of human leukemia and breast cancer cells. Experts found adding the herb to hamburgers can break up potentially cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which form when meat is cooked. Research at “Kansas State University” demonstrated that adding rosemary to beef patties reduced levels of heterocyclic amines by 30 to 100 %
Rosemary is considered safe when taken in recommended doses. Because large quantities of rosemary may cause miscarriage, pregnant and nursing women should not take rosemary as a supplement. Essential oil is only for external use and should not be ingested. This essential oil is toxic and may cause important adverse effects, including vomiting, seizures, fluid in the lungs, spasms and coma.