Rosemary is commonly used in cooking to flavor soups, sauces and meats. Perhaps less well known, it also has many health benefits and can be used as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments. Here are 10 health benefits of rosemary that will prompt you to grow this plant and find ways to use this valuable, fragrant herb.
Cancer Prevention – Rosemary contains carnosol, found in studies to be a potent anti-cancer compound. Researchers have had promising results of its efficacy against breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, leukemia and skin cancer. In one test, researchers gave powdered rosemary to rats for two weeks and found that it reduced the binding of the carcinogen given to the rats by 76% and significantly inhibited the formation of breast tumors.
Improved Memory – Rosemary long has been believed to have memory-enhancing properties. In 1529, an herbal book recommended taking rosemary for “weakness of the brain.” Modern research has found that rosemary contains a diterpine called carnosic acid that has neuroprotective properties that researchers believe may protect against Alzheimer’s disease as well as the normal memory loss that comes with aging.
Remarkably, even the smell of rosemary has been found to improve memory! Human test subjects were given essential oil of rosemary to smell and were found to have better quality of memory and overall memory than the control group.
Migraine Help – Rosemary has been a popular natural migraine remedy for centuries. Boil some rosemary in a large pot of water and pour it into a bowl. Place a towel over your head and lean over the pot to inhale the steam for about 10 minutes. Because smelling rosemary has been found to improve memory and mood, this anti-migraine treatment also may help with memory function and put you in a better state of mind.
Pain Relief – It not only helps relieve the pain of migraines, but essential oil of rosemary can also be applied topically as a natural treatment for arthritis, sore muscles and other joint and muscle pains.
Immune Booster – Rosemary boosts the immune system thanks to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Because it is healing in so many ways, it boosts the overall health of the body.
Digestive Health – Rosemary is often used to help treat digestive problems such as upset stomach, constipation, indigestion and almost any other digestion-related problem. It also helps to prevent food-borne illnesses when ingested with meat or eggs.
Fresh Breath – Rosemary is an effective natural mouthwash. To make the mouthwash, steep fresh rosemary in a pint of heated water. Strain and use it as a mouth rinse as often as you like. It will keep in the refrigerator, covered.
Respiratory Health – Rosemary is a great natural remedy for respiratory problems. Breathing in the scent of the essential oil may help with congestion from colds, allergies, respiratory infections and the flu. You also may boil fresh rosemary in a pot of water, place it in a bowl, and breathe in the steam to help clear the lungs and throat. This helps with any sinus or head pain associated with respiratory conditions.
Liver Detoxification – Rosemary has been used to treat liver problems for hundreds of years. Hippocrates prescribed it for this purpose. One study found that rosemary extract reduces cirrhosis in rats given thioacetamide, a compound toxic to the liver. It also prevented liver damage from tetrachloride in rats and mice.
Anti-Aging – Rosemary is a popular ingredient in anti-aging skin creams because it helps reduce puffiness, stimulates cell regeneration, increases firmness and improves overall skin tone. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and increases blood flow to the skin.
Caveat: For the most part, rosemary is considered safe for human consumption with no side effects, but some precautions are warranted. Pregnant women should avoid consuming large amounts of rosemary because it may lead to uterine contractions and miscarriage. People with high blood pressure should not take rosemary because it may raise blood pressure.
Rosemary is not picky when it comes to soil but prefers generously amended soil. It is sun exposure that has a major influence on the plant’s healthy growth. Ground cover and upright rosemary are easily grown in local landscapes where plants can receive at least six hours of sun each day, the hotter the better. This plant does not like to sit in wet, sticky soils, and suffers when over-watered. To meet all the varieties, shapes and sizes of rosemary that are grown locally, simply visit the garden center.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping gardeners plant the perfect rosemary here at Watters Garden Center. QCBN
By Ken Lain