Rosemary / Romarin

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All herb articles written by Anne Driscoll, R.H., Traditional Herbalist

Rosemary / Romarin

Rosmarinus officinalis (Lamiaciae family)

Parts Used: The herb consists of the top 30% of the aerial parts of the plant picked as its flowers begin to open. The essential oil can also be used.

Habitat: Perennial. This plant is not native to North America, but originated in the Mediterranean. Typically only found in gardens –  in Ottawa (zone 4) the plant would need heavy mulching to survive the winter. Rosemary is a plant that thrives on benign neglect. Easily identifiable – the shrub can grow anywhere from 3 to 6 feet in size. The flowers can be white, blue or purple. It is drought hardy, wanting full sun and low to moderate amounts of water.

Properties: Antibacterial, anticatarrhal, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, aperient, appetite stimulant, cardiac, carminative, cholagogue, choleretic, circulatory stimulant, decongestant, diaphoretic, digestive stimulant, emmenagogue, expectorant, nervine (stimulating), pancreatic, rubefacient, stomachic, vascular tonic and vasodilator (neural).

Uses: Rosemary has been known and lauded for centuries for both its medicinal and culinary uses. Like many of the other aromatic carminatives in the mint family, rosemary is an excellent digestive herb. The high essential oil content makes it effective for use in cases of flatulence, dyspepsia, stomach cramps, indigestion and poor appetite. Constituents in the essential oil stimulate the smooth muscle of the bowel to relax and contract with more ease. Lesser known is rosemary’s usefulness for headaches and migraines. A cup of rosemary tea can provide effective relief. The essential oil (diluted in a carrier oil) can also be rubbed on the temples for pain relief. Rosemary is of help in cases where a person is suffering from conditions characterized by stagnation – it is an energizing nervine and has an uplifting action on mood and memory. It is a very good herb for seniors as it acts upon the digestive, circulatory and nervous systems. The essential oil can be used to massage the scalp to stimulate the hair follicles.

Preparation/Dosage: Fresh or dried tea or tincture, as well as the essential oil.

Safety Considerations: Not for use in pregnancy in therapeutic doses. The normal amount of rosemary consumed as food is of no concern. The essential oil should not be taken internally unless under the supervision of an experienced practitioner. Over use of the essential oil externally can cause irritation.

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