Materia Medica-Rosemary

Photo: Wikimedia

Botanical Name: Rosmarius officinalis (dew of the sea) Common Name: Rosemary
Family: Labiate (Lamiacae)
Ayurvedic/TCM Name: Rusmari/mi die xiang
Parts Used: Herb leaves, stem and roots
Native Region: Native to Portugal and Mediterranean areas

Geographic Distribution: World wide
Botanical Description: Rosemary shrubs consist of stiff branches with long, needle-like leaves that are dark green above and white and glandular underneath. Pale blue flowers grow on the ends of the leaves. The leaves and parts of the flowers contain a volatile oil and are used medicinally. This pungently aromatic odor somewhat camphoracerus. It is also used as a spice in cooking. [1] It can withstand droughts, surviving a severe lack of water for lengthy periods [2]

Cultivation: Propagate by seeds, cuttings, layers & division of roots. Rosemary prefers a light soil, a sandy soil will fully satisfy its meager feeding needs. Having said that, rosemary is tolerant of most soil conditions as long as they are not water-logged. Rosemary prefers a slightly limey soil (the opposite of acid) because this results in smaller plants with more fragrant leaves. True to its origins, rosemary prefers sunny and sheltered conditions. It will stand severe frosts if conditions are not windy and wet as well. Seeds are slow to sprout (maybe up to 2 months), so the best method of propagating Rosemary is by taking cuttings. Select new growth tips. Take 3-4” cuttings. Strip off leaves on the lower 1”. Place in sandy soil and keep moist. Rooting hormones could be beneficial. Once planted, don’t move it. Rosemary doesn’t like its roots disturbed. If planting in a pot, make it a deep one. Can tolerate being root bound. Rosemary can be grown outdoors in climates where the minter temperatures do not drop below 10ºF. The plants can be brought indoors to over winter in colder climates.

Harvesting Guidelines: Can be cut and used fresh in culinary recipes. Cut twigs and hang to dry. Strip off leaves and store in a jar or plastic bag. Can be ground to powder.

Constituents: • Alpha- pinene – exhibits anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and acts as a broad-spectrum antibiotic
• 1,8-Cineole – increases the cerebral blood flow
• Camphor – used for its scent, in cooking and in medicine, also used as a pest deterrent and preservative, easily absorbed through the skin it can be used as a local anesthetic and antimicrobial substance, decongestant and cough suppressant
• Camphene – antibiotic and anti-fungal properties, insect repellent, treats coughs and colds and high blood pressure, anti-inflammation and analgesic
• Beta-pinene – owing to its woody-green pine-like smell, it has been used as a flavoring and a fragrance agent, anti-depressant, anti-bacterial,anti-parasitic and anti-fungal properties
• Limonene – lemon essential oil, useful in appetite control, combat fatty liver, anti-inflammatory, used in air fresheners, and cleaning products [3]

Medicinal Uses: Tonic, Stimulant, Calmative, and Relaxant
1. Tonic for hair and skin – Eases stress, enhances blood circulation, nourishes and cleanses scalp; stimulates hair follicles & promotes hair growth. Strengthens roots, reduces premature graying, controls loss of hair and lessens dandruff. Serves as a scalp moisturizer.
Hair – Use 2-3 drops rosemary oil with 1 Tbs carrier oil (sweet almond or coconut). Massage into scalp. Can be used as a rinse to brighten brunette hair after shampooing. Steep a sprig of rosemary in 1 cup boiling water for 5-10 minutes. work rinse in hair after shampooing.
Skin care – Use 2 drops rosemary and 3 drops orange oil to treat cellulite
Facial scrub – Orange Rosemary Salt Scrub – mix 1 cup salt, zest of one orange, 1 tsp rosemary leaves taken off the stem. Blend these in food processor until rosemary is finely chopped. Pour in 1/3 cup olive oil and mix well. Store in air tight jar. To use wet area to be scrubbed, then with a gentle circular motion rub the salt scrub. Rinse completely with warm water and pat dry.[11]
Rosemary also relieves swelling, congestion and puffiness; aids in treatment of eczema, acne, stretch marks, skin eruptions, scars, wrinkles & dermatitis [3] Makes a good mouth wash [4] Get more mouthwash recipes here. [5]
Mouthwash – Boil 4.5 cups filtered water; Add: 1.5 tsp rosemary leaves and 1.5 tsp anise seeds. Steep for 30 minutes; strain and use as needed
2. Augments memory and cognitive performance – 1,8-cineole boosts brain systems behind cognitive performance. Researchers have shown rosemary fragrance improves memory.[6]
3. Depression, fear & fatigue – increases productivity, instills positive feelings, easing muscle pain [7]
4. Aids in healing – dental, respiratory disorders, pain, inflammation, urinary and gastrointestinal problems, sinusitis, headaches, migraine pain, cough, bronchitis, mucus congestion, menstrual cramps, constipation and stiff neck [2]
5. Anti-bacterial/ anti-fungal – makes a good facial astringent and mist for hair. [8] Works with apple cider vinegar as a homemade deodorant, too. [9]

Culinary Uses: Aromatic rosemary gives a distinctive pop to meats, vegetables and soups. Rosemary is a carminative and stimulates bile production aiding in digestion. Its flavor harmonizes with those of poultry, fish, lamb,beef, veal, pork and game, especially roasted. Rosemary enhances tomatoes, spinach, peas, mushrooms squash, cheese, eggs, lentils and complements the herbs chives, thyme, chervil, parsley, and bay in recipes. Both flowers and leaves can be used for garnishing and cooking. Long twigs can be stripped of leaves and used for kabob skewers. Gentle soups like potato and eggplant benefit from rosemary’s robust character, as do marinades, salad dressings, bouquet garnis, and creme sauces.

Rosemary attracts large number of bees and a very fine honey cam be produced from its nectar.

French Toast infused with Rosemary has a decadent recipe using day old bread and adding rosemary to the cream to be used to soak the bread. Makes an interesting sweet and savory combination for a breakfast/brunch [10]

Roasted Pork Tenderloinmince rosemary and garlic and rub all over before baking this roast. This same technique works for a variety of roasts as mentioned above.

Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes
Cut up fingerling sweet potatoes, add minced rosemary, salt, and olive oil. Toss to coat. Bake 30 minutes at 375ºF, turning once after 15 minutes.
The same recipe works for white potatoes and butternut squash as well.

Lemon Rosemary Button Shortbreads get a savory twist with rosemary

Here are 39 recipes that incorporate rosemary.

Salmon Glazed with Rosemary- and Lemon-Infused Honey

All Recipes contributions include roasts, vegetables and breads

Precautions: Consult healthcare professional if pregnant or nursing mother.

Disclaimer: The information in any Every Needful Thing article is not intended to replace medical advice.


Billie Nicholson, Editor
November 2017

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