Learn the Herbs: Rosemary

Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean. Due to its lovely fragrance and beneficial properties, this herb has an enormous number of uses: from culinary and perfumery to medicine and aromatherapy.

The name "rosemary" is often mistakenly cited as deriving from the words "rose" and "Mary." In fact, it originates from the Greek words "ros" and "marinus"; thus, "rosemary" can be translated as "dew of the sea".

Along with lavender, basil, sage, and mint, rosemary belongs to the Lamiaceae family - one of the largest groups of flowering plants.

Rosemary possesses a warm, astringent, and bitter flavor. In contrast to many other herbs that lose their benefits after drying, rosemary retains its wonderful taste and aroma, both fresh and dried. Because of this, it has been long appreciated as a flavoring for various dishes and drinks.

What does history hold?

In ancient times, rosemary was appreciated as a powerful memory enhancer, while in folklore and literature, it was a symbol of remembrance and faithfulness. A special relationship to rosemary is illustrated in this passage from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: "There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember." The ability of rosemary to strengthen memory and cognitive abilities was also appreciated by the ancient Greek scholars, who wore garlands of rosemary when taking exams.

What about the use of rosemary nowadays?

One herb - plenty of benefits

  • Since ancient times, rosemary has traditionally been used to support healthy digestion, promote intestinal peristalsis, and ease various stomach-related conditions such as gas, constipation,  bloating, etc. 
  • Due to the content of carnosic and rosmarinic acids, rosemary is useful for lowering blood sugar levels.
  • Studies have shown that certain compounds contained in rosemary are effective for improving the memory and boosting the mood. So, ancient Greek students used it to jog their memory during exams. In addition to these cognitive benefits, rosemary is thought to protect brain cells from damage and decay. 
  • Carnosic acid - a major component of rosemary - considerably boosts eye health and prevents age-related vision changes.
  • Rosemary is a great source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. This is largely due to the content of polyphenolic compounds such as rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid. Thus, rosemary is effective at strengthening the immune system and helping to fight infections.

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