Rosemary has long been regarded as the herb for remembrance Mystically, it symbolizes loyalty, love, and immortality, and it was once believed to strengthen the heart as well as memory. The Greeks and Romans prepared fragrant distilled water from the flowers and inhaled the odor so that the evils were destroyed from the mind and the memory no longer played tricks. In ancient Greece, students prepare for examinations with threaded sprigs of rosemary in their locks to induce clear thinking and a good memory. During Medieval times in France, rosemary was burned for church incense and used to purify the air in hospitals. Famous Napoleon's Eau de Cologne was made with rosemary oil.
Characteristics of Rosemary
It is a sweet-scented evergreen shrub that grows up to two meters high, its leaves are narrow and resemble curved pine needles, and the small pale blue flowers grow in little clusters on the stems. It belongs to the mint family. It is an evergreen aromatic shrub. Dried leaves of rosemary are used for commercial purposes. The dried herb is brownish-green in color, and the leaves have a tea-like fragrance. Crushed rosemary has a spicy camphoraceous aroma and a pungent, bitter taste.
Chemical Constituent of Rosemary
Rosemary is a common household plant grown in many parts of the world. The most important constituents of rosemary are caffeic acid and its derivatives such as rosmarinic acid. These compounds have antioxidant effects. The rosemary essential oil contains terpenes, terpenoids, rosmanol, carnosic acid, and carnosol.
On fractional distillation, dried rosemary leaves to yield 1 to 2 percent of a volatile oil used in perfumery and medicine. They also contain several acids and other chemical substances; a fraction of phenolic possessing antioxidant properties has been isolated from the leaves and their oil.
Rosemary is a sun-loving herb, native to the south of France and other Mediterranean regions, it is cultivated across Spain, Portugal, and the U.S.A. In India, it is cultivated in the temperate Himalayas and Nilgiris hills which have dry to moderately moist climates. It is also grown in gardens for its pleasantly fragrant leaves.
It grows widely along the north and south coasts of the Mediterranean seas, and in the sub-Himalayan areas. In the United States and Europe, rosemary is a unique species commercially available for use as an antioxidant.
Ayurveda Health Benefits and Uses of Rosemary
Rosemary has been used as an aromatic herb and medicine. In folk medicine, rosemary extract is a treatment for urinary ailments, chronic weakness, nervous disorder, hair loss, and peripheral vascular diseases. It is an antidote to mental fatigue and forgetfulness, and a tea made from the herb is a good natural remedy for added mental agility.
Rosemary is extensively used as a medicinal herb for its astringent, spasmolytic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, carminative, antirheumatic, analgesic, antimicrobial, and hypotensive properties. It is beneficial to treat dyspepsia, high blood pressure, and rheumatism.
It is believed that if the crushed leaves of rosemary are inhaled with eyes closed the becomes clear as the vapor courses through the brain cells. The oil of rosemary is used as an ingredient in rubefacient liniments. Rosemary is formally recognized as a drug in some pharmacopeias. It is mildly irritant and used to relieve flatulence.
Dried rosemary leaves are aromatic and yield a slightly camphoraceous odor when crushed. They are used to flavor salads, vegetable dishes, soups, meat dishes, sausages, and sauces. Rosemary oil, widely employed in cosmetic products, sometimes replaces the dried leaves in the flavoring of food products.
Rosemary plant is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and folate, as well as important minerals like Ca, Mg, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and copper.
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Here are some Ayurveda health benefits and uses
Rosemary oil induces copious perspiration, it can be beneficially mixed in hot water and taken as a drink by these suffering from cold and chills. The oil is obtained by fractional distillation of the leaves, flowering tops, and twigs of the plant. This emulsion is used as a gargle for sore throat, the oil exhibits antibacterial activity.
The plant has been found useful in atonic dyspepsia that is, indigestion and stiffness in the stomach. It is also valuable in digesting starchy foods and vegetables like eggplant and lima beans besides rich meats like pork, beef, and lamb.
The flowering tops and leaves have a camphor-like odor that induces copious perspiration, they are used for vapor baths in rheumatism.
Taking a few drops of rosemary oil is a heart stimulant, and a five percent tincture prepared by mixing oil of rosemary in alcohol is used as a circulatory and cardiac stimulant.
Shampoos and hair lotions containing pure extract of rosemary help to rejuvenate the scalp and hair while preventing dandruff and premature baldness. A lotion from leafy rosemary branches is prepared by simmering them in water for 30 minutes before straining and cooling. It can be used as the final hair rinse.
Fresh tender tops are used for garnishing and flavoring cold drinks, pickles, soups, and other foods. Its leaves are used as a condiment. Dried and powdered, they are added to cooked meats, fish, poultry, soups, stews, sauces, garnishing, preserves, and jams.
Rosemary is one of the famous herbs used in skin care products with potent antioxidant activity due to its bioactive metabolites rosmarinic acid, rosmanol, carnosic acid, and carnosol.
Side Effects of Rosemary
All Ayurveda herbs are plant-based, and they don’t have any side effects, but they may react with some allopathy or homeopathy medicine. It is better to consult the doctor if you are on any medications or have unique health issues.
Overdose or wrong dose may cause some health problems like vomiting, sun sensitivity, stomach, and intestinal irritation, stomach upset, and reddening of the skin, too much rosemary oil on your scalp may cause irritation and drinking large quantities may cause nausea and vomiting. It is also not recommended for pregnant women, lactating women, or a person who is suffering from indigestion or skin problems.