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Herb of the Month: Rosemary

Rosemary, is one of the most commonly used herbs native to the Mediterranean, and an important species of the Lamiaceae family. It contains a vast array of active constituents including essential oils such as 1,8-cineole, a-pinene, camphene, a-terpeneol, and borneol, along with pharmacologically active flavonoids, phenolic acid derivatives such as rosemarinic acid, carnosol and carnosic acid.

Did You Know?                                                 

Besides being incredibly well-known as a culinary staple, the herb also has historical significance in a variety of ways including its place in Remembrance ceremonies and University graduations. These associations were often linked to Rosemary’s traditional therapeutic use as a brain and memory stimulant – where ancient Greek scholars wore garlands of rosemary during examinations to improve their concentration.

The Many Uses of Rosemary

Brain Food

As mentioned, Rosemary contains many active constituents and it is both the carnosic acid and the essential oil components responsible for its neuroprotective effects. Carnosic acid has protective effects in the brain with its mechanism thought to be its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that mediate the brains transcriptional pathways.

The essential oils are also known to alter brain function, and at therapeutic doses has shown improvement in memory impairment when tested in-vivo. To this day, Rosemary continues its traditional use as one of the most effective herbs for headaches, poor circulation and mental fatigue.

Liver Protection

One of the main reasons our liver may become a little sluggish and congested is the free-radicals and oxidative stress resulting from its detoxification processes – when it works hard to clear toxins from our bodies.

Antioxidants are the answer to this problem, and help bring the liver back into balance making it once more effective at doing its primary job. Rosemary has shown to have potent effects modulating oxidative status, meaning it improves detoxification systems which rely on glutathione – one of the liver’s major antioxidants.

Provides Pain Relief

Rosemary possesses anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and analgesic actions and as such has been traditionally used in treating many forms of pain. Extracts of the herb have been found to be useful in mediating many inflammatory pathways.

Its antispasmodic action also plays a significant role in providing pain relief as an internal carminative to cramp-like gastrointestinal complaints, headaches, and period pain.

Hair Growth

The role of topical Rosemary Oil in hair growth has long been of a traditional origin, but evidence suggests the herb may indeed exert substantial therapeutic benefit for some types of hair loss.

Most studies on hair growth and rosemary oil have been specific to androgen-related alopecia.

This is by no means an extensive list of all Rosemary’s impressive qualities, but highlights how diverse and useful it is to benefit a wide range of conditions – beyond its use as a delicious culinary herb.


Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs & Natural Supplements – An evidence-based guide Vol 2. Elsevier Australia 2015

S Habtemariam. The Therapeutic Potential of Rosemary (Rosemarinus off) Diterpenes for Alzheimer’s Disease. Evid Based Comp Alt Med 2016

A Raskovic et al. Antioxidant activity of rosemary (Rosemarinus off) essential oil and its hepatoprotective potential. 2014 BMC Comp & Alt Med (14): 223

J Rocha et al. Antiinflammatory Effect of Rosmarinic Acid and an Extract of Rosmarinus officinalis in Rat Models of Local and Systemic Inflammation. BCPT 2015: Vol 116(5); 398-413

Panahi Y et al. Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial. 2015; 13(1): 15-21