I wanted to get back to our common herb posts. Each time I write one of these, I am amazed all over again at how many benefits the common herbs we find in our gardens have. This truly is a testament to eating fresh, varied, whole foods instead of packaged, processed, boxed crap.
Rosemary is a member of the mint family and is a common herb found in kitchen gardens all over the world. It is hardy, aromatic, and adds a wonderful flavor to food when prepared with it. It has a number of health benefits that it has been used for since ancient times including the ability to improve the memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, alleviate muscle pain, stimulate hair growth and modern science is finally catching up with all the old wives tales.
What modern science does know at this point is that rosemary:
- Is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds
This means that rosemary can help boost the immune system and circulatory system. Antioxidants also neutralize free radicals, which helps to prevent premature aging, cellular, and tissue damage. These can lead to a whole host of diseases including cancer.
- Improves memory and concentration
Rosemary essential oil has a positive effect on memory, concentration, and even mood. In addition to improving your memory, it helps fight off free radicals that affect your grey matter. Carnosic acid, a component of rosemary can help protect the brain from stroke and neurodegeneration due to chemical free radicals. Research also suggests that components in rosemary may be beneficial to treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists have found that components of rosemary have an inhibitive effect of specific cancer strains, specifically leukemia and breast carcinoma cells. It has anti-tumor properties and can even decrease the amount of carcinogenic compounds formed when cooking meat at high temperatures when added to beef. Compounds of rosemary may even offer protection from radiation.
- Promotes eye health
Carnosic acid, the same compound that aids the brain and memory has been shown to help prevent macular degeneration by triggering antioxidant production in the treated cells.
- Help control Type 2 Diabetes
Rosemary, along with Greek oregano, Mexican oregano, and marjoram all show potential in two different enzymes that are instrumental in controlling insulin secretion and signaling.
Proven to inhibit staph infections, as well as bacterial infections, specifically ones in the stomach that cause ulcers.
- Aids digestion
Historically, it has been used across cultures as a digestive aid and a way to settle an upset stomach. Scientists believe that its anti-inflammatory and stimulant properties are key to how rosemary is so effective. It has been studied along with a number of other herbs known for promoting similar uses and has been shown (scientifically) to be effective.
In addition to being effective for the above health issues, rosemary has been used for a wide variety of additional maladies. One that was widely mentioned, but with very little scientific data to back it up was as a treatment for hair loss. I came across one study that showed it was effective, but the study itself was considered flawed, so who knows. I imagine that it can’t hurt to rub rosemary oil on one’s scalp and at the worst you will smell wonderful all day long.