Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary is an evergreen, aromatic shrub. Scientifically known as Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary belongs to the family of Lamiaceae.
It is a perennial, woody herb with needle-like leaves and pink, purple, white or blue flowers. The name rosemary comes from Latin for ‘dew’ (ros) and ‘sea’ (marinus) or to be more specific ‘dew of the sea’. It is named so, because, in many areas, it can survive without water, using the humidity carried by the sea breeze. This herb is cultivated for its memorable taste and aroma as well as for its amazing health benefits.
It is most commonly used as a spice in the preparation of a number of dishes, especially in the Mediterranean cooking. Due to its awesome fragrance, it is also used in soaps and cosmetics. The leaves, in both fresh and dried form, are used as flavoring agent in various foods, particularly in traditional Italian cuisine.
Health Benefits of Rosemary
The herb, rosemary is rich in a variety of nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, energy, dietary fiber and a little of fat. It is loaded with different essential vitamins like vitamin A and C as well as vitamin B-complex such as niacin, thiamin, folates, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine. It also contains electrolytes like sodium and potassium as well as minerals like calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Traditionally, rosemary is used to relieve muscle pain and spasm, improve memory, enhance hair growth and boost nervous and circulatory systems.
– Rosemary is also known to have antioxidant properties, which helps to eliminate harmful free radicals from the body. Free radicals are responsible for damage to the cell membranes, alteration in DNA and even cell death. Use of rosemary inhibits the action of free radicals and boosts immune system.
– According to the research studies, rosemary oil possesses antimicrobial properties, which can inhibit the food-borne pathogens like Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa as well as yeast like Candida albicans and fungus like Aspergillus niger.
– Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, rosemary can be used to relieve muscle pain and reduce arthritis symptoms.
– Rosemay contains volatile essential oils including camphene, bornyl acetate, cineol, borneol and alpha-pinene. Rosemary oil, when massaged on the scalp, stimulates hair growth and helps to get rid of alopecia.
– Rosemary consists of a good amount of vitamin A, which is known to possess antioxidant properties. It is needed for good eyesight and for maintaining healthy skin and mucous membranes. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin A like rosemary can reduce the risk of developing oral cavity and lung cancers.
– Due to high content of vitamin C, rosemary is helpful in collagen synthesis in the body. Collagen is the major structural protein necessary for maintaining the integrity of skin, blood vessels, bones and other organs. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C like rosemary helps to prevent scurvy, boost immunity and develop resistance against infectious agents.
– to Treat Lupus.
– Rosemary is a rich source of minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Being an important constituent of cells and body fluids, potassium helps to control blood pressure and heart rate. Manganese assists superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme. Iron, an important component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, enhances the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and also helps in generation of new blood cells.
Precautions and Side Effects
Rosemary is definitely an effective herb used to strengthen the body and treat various ailments. However, it is considered to be safe, when taken in recommended doses. In some people, it can cause allergic reactions. The usage of large amount of rosemary leaves, due to their content of volatile oil, can lead to serious side effects such as spasms, vomiting, coma and occasionally pulmonary edema. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid rosemary, because its higher doses can cause miscarriage. Also, people with ulcers, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and high blood pressure should avoid using rosemary. Rosemary oil should be used only for external application. It should not be taken orally, as it can cause toxic effects if ingested.