Rosemary, symbol of remembrance, originally comes from the Mediterranean area but is now grown worldwide and is cultivated for oil production in France, Spain and Tunisia. Rosemary is a member of the plant family Lamiaceae (Labiatae). It is a relatively easy herb to grow and is popular as a flavoring ingredient in the cookery of many countries. It is also a favorite in scented gardens and herb gardens.
Planted alongside a path, where the leaves will give off their delicious fragrance every time someone brushes past the plant, rosemary is a delight to grow. The herb grows as a small bushy shrub with grey-green aromatic leaves, like needles, all along the stem. The flowers of the plant are small and pale grayish blue in color.
Rosemary has been used in herbal medicine for centuries and also had considerable religious and spiritual significance in some countries. It was believed in several cultures to give protection against evil spirits. In medieval times it was used as a fumigating agent against the plague. The herb has been used to treat respiratory, digestive, skin and nervous complaints and is still recommended as a general stimulant. Rosemary was also used as a treatment for depression and general debility. The stimulating effects of the herb on the mind and body have long been appreciated.
Essential oil of rosemary can be extracted from the whole plant by steam distillation, but a better quality oil is obtained if only the young leaves and flowering tips are used. The oil is either pale yellow or colorless and has a fragrance that is strong, fresh and herbal. The fragrance of the oil does not, however, closely resemble that of the plant itself. Rosemary oil is used extensively in the perfume and cosmetics industries, in the manufacture of soaps, shampoos and other toiletries and in perfumes and colognes. It is also used in the production of many food and drink products.
The effects of essential oil of rosemary are warming, stimulating, strengthening and toning, both on the body and the mind. It is thus a good all-round tonic oil to use and has many therapeutic applications.
Rosemary has particular benefits for the circulatory system. Used in a bath or in massage it will stimulate a poor circulation and relieve the discomfort of cold extremities.
Rosemary oil can be used to good effect in bathing, massage or adding fragrance to a room to stimulate the mind, helping concentration, improving memory and relieving mental fatigue: ‘Rosemary for remembrance’. (It is interesting to note that the ancient Greeks wore sprigs or garlands of rosemary at times when they wanted to achieve this effect.)
Rosemary is a good oil to use in massage or bathing both before and after strenuous exercise. It is therefore invaluable to have in the house if there are athletes, walkers or cyclists in the family. It will help to tone the muscles and help prevent against strain before exercise. Following exercise, it will soothe aches, pains and stiffness. Rheumatism and arthritis can also be relieved by using rosemary oil, which is soothing and warming either in massage and bathing or with the use of compresses applied to the affected areas of the body.
The pain-relieving properties of essential oil of rosemary also make it useful in the treatment of headaches, and its stimulating properties help to restore concentration and revitalize the spirits, particularly when fatigue from overwork has set in.
The stimulating effects of rosemary will work for the benefit of the digestive system, and it can be used to treat flatulence, colic and an irritated colon. Abdominal massage can be particularly beneficial. Massage with rosemary oil also has a detoxifying effect on the body, stimulating lymphatic drainage.
Rosemary oil is antiseptic and antimicrobial and can be used in the treatment of colds, influenza and bronchitis. Use in steam inhalation or, for a comforting warming effect all over, in bathing or massage. It can also be used in a mouthwash to combat oral and throat infections. When used as a room fragrance, rosemary gives off a delicious aroma while at the same time disinfecting the atmosphere.
Rosemary oil is a popular oil to use in hair care. It can be applied in a massage blend rubbed into the scalp and can be used to treat hair lice and scabies. It also counteracts greasy hair, seborrhoea and dandruff and it may also be of benefit in some cases of hair loss (alopecia).
In skin care, rosemary oil is particularly beneficial for oily skins that are prone to spots as it is antiseptic and astringent.
Suitable Methods of Use
- Hair care,
- Skin care,
In the correct dilution, rosemary oil is generally safe to use. Warning: Should be avoided during pregnancy. Not suitable for use by sufferers of epilepsy or high blood pressure.