Ingredients and Uses
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Rosemary Essential Oil: Uses, Benefits, And Precautions

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Rosemary Essential Oil: Uses, Benefits, And Precautions December 19, 2017

When it comes to herbs, rosemary is pretty much the queen of them all because of the many health benefits it offers. And it seems like mankind was in on this secret and reaping its benefits since forever because rosemary was considered sacred by ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations.

Fascinating, isn’t it? So, let’s take a look at all the wonderful ways we can benefit from this wonder herb and its essential oil.

Table Of Contents

What Is Rosemary Oil?

Belonging to the mint family of Lamiaceae, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an aromatic, evergreen herb that is found in the Mediterranean and Asia. It has needle-like leaves and its flowers can be pink, white, purple or blue. Since it looks pretty, it is widely used as an ornamental plant.

Rosemary holds a special place in gourmet cooking due to its wonderful fragrance and unique bitter flavor, especially when it comes to dishes that include any kind of roasted meat. But it’s the essential oil extracted from the leaves of rosemary that is its pièce de résistance.

Rosemary essential oil contains a ton of fortifying components like rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, betulinic acid, carnosic acid, ursolic acid, carnosol, and camphor. These lend it its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic, and expectorant properties and help promote better digestion, circulation, and breathing. Let’s take a closer look at what other wonderful nutrients this essential oil houses… 

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Rosemary Nutrition Profile

The essential oil of rosemary is extracted by steam distillation from fresh flowering tops that yield 1-2% oil. This oil contains a wide array of nutrients and antioxidants. Its main chemical components are α-pinene, borneol, β-pinene, camphor, bornyl acetate, camphene, 1, 8-cineole and limonene. The nutritional value of rosemary is explained in the table given below.

Rosemary herb (Rosmarinus officinalis), Fresh leaves, Nutritive value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
PrincipleNutrient ValuePercentage of RDA
Energy131 Kcal6.5%
Carbohydrates20.70 g16%
Protein3.31 g6%
Total Fat5.86 g20%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Dietary Fiber14.10 g37%
Vitamins
Folates109 µg27%
Niacin0.912 mg6%
Pantothenic acid0.804 mg16%
Pyridoxine0.336 mg26%
Riboflavin0.152 mg12%
Thiamin0.036 mg3%
Vitamin A2924 IU97%
Vitamin C21.8 mg36%
Electrolytes
Sodium26 mg2%
Potassium668 mg14%
Minerals
Calcium317 mg32%
Copper0.301 mg33%
Iron6.65 mg83%
Magnesium91 mg23%
Manganese0.960 mg42%
Zinc0.93 mg8.5%

As you can see, the rosemary herb and its essential oil are packed with amazing nutrients. Which could only mean one thing – they offer a host of benefits for your health, skin, and hair.

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What Are The Benefits Of Rosemary Oil?

Rosemary oil is one of those unique ingredients that don’t just offer benefits for your physical health but also work wonders for your mental health. From relieving pain and aiding digestion to reducing anxiety, rosemary oil covers just about every base. Let’s look at all benefits it has to offer in detail.

1. Boosts Immune System

When it comes to protecting your body from diseases, antioxidants are your biggest weapons. Rosemary oil contains carnosol and myrcene, two chemicals that act as powerful antioxidants and hunt down free radicals that can damage your cells and cause a number of infections and diseases. Thus, inhaling rosemary oil on a regular basis can help boost your immune system (1).

2. Is Anti-inflammatory

Suffering from aches and pains that never seem to go away? Then, it’s time you started massaging those areas with rosemary essential oil. This oil works as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent as it contains caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid, and α-pinene that work to alleviate swelling and pain (2).

3. Promotes Digestion

This may sound a bit weird to you but rubbing rosemary oil on your stomach and the bottom of your feet can actually aid digestion. How, you ask? It’s because rosemary oil improves the quality of gastric acid secretion and the volume of bile produced by the liver – two components that are necessary for good digestion. Thus, it can help relieve constipation, stomach cramps, bloating, flatulence (yes, I mean farts), and symptoms of dyspepsia (3).

4. Alleviates Muscle And Joint Pain

4. Alleviates Muscle And Joint Pain

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When it comes to combating pain, rosemary is somewhat of a triple treat due to its carnosol and camphor content. It’s an analgesic (reduces pain), anti-inflammatory (reduces swelling), and an anti-nociceptive (blocks the sensation of pain). Therefore, it has traditionally been used to alleviate muscle pain, joint pain, sprains, and the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism. Though rosemary oil has been approved by the German Commission E for treating these conditions and proven to have these effects in rats, there’s no conclusive scientific evidence that it does so in humans (4), (5).

5. Increases Circulation

The topical use of rosemary oil has been found to improve blood circulation in that area (6). Improved blood circulation can offer a host of other benefits like relieving pain and aiding rapid blood clotting, which could, in turn, speed up wound healing and promote hair growth.

6. Cures Headaches

Are frequent headaches and migraines making you miss school/work? Then, all you need to do is rub a couple of drops of rosemary oil between your palms and cup them over your nose and mouth. The pain relieving property of this potent essential oil has been found to be very effective in reducing headaches (7).

 7. Relieves Cough, Cold, And Flu

 7. Relieves Cough, Cold, And Flu

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Time for a little quiz. What’s the common factor between a cough, a cold, and a flu? Yep, they’re all caused by bacterial or viral infections. Rosemary essential oil, when inhaled, acts as a potent antibacterial agent and fights off these infections (8).

8. Helps To Improve Respiratory Activity

If you want to breathe easy, it’s time you picked up a bottle of rosemary essential oil. This powerful oil has been found to provide significant relief when it comes to respiratory disorders (9).

The eucalyptol and camphor present in rosemary oil help dilate the bronchi in your lungs and aid better flow of air. Thus, it helps in relieving a number of respiratory problems like clearing the chest and nasal congestion, reducing cough, cold, and sore throat, and treating symptoms of respiratory allergies and sinusitis. Rosemary oil also possesses an antispasmodic property (relieves muscular spasms) that works well in treating bronchial asthma.

9. Lowers Stress

Whenever you feel stressed or have that all too familiar “fight-or-flight” urge, it’s nothing but the hormone cortisol that is being released into your body. Anyone who suffers from chronic stress can have an excess of cortisol being released in their body, which could ruin the delicate hormonal balance and disturb the normal metabolism, thus giving way to a number of other diseases. But there’s good news! Smelling rosemary oil has been found to reduce the level of cortisol in saliva significantly (10). So, the next time you feel like the stress of day-to-day life is getting to you, indulge in some aromatherapy with rosemary oil.

10. Helps Fight Cancer

A lot of research is currently going on to test the effect of rosemary oil on cancer. Carnosol, a component of rosemary oil, has shown particularly promising results in fighting cancer (11). Extensive research done on animals has also proven the anti-cancer effect of rosemary oil on the colon, pancreas, breast, prostate, cervical, bladder, ovarian cancer, and leukemia (12). It has also been shown to inhibit the spread of liver carcinoma and slow down the growth of tumors (13). However, there is still a long way to go before an undisputed link is found between rosemary oil and its anticancer effects.

11. Removes Bad Odor

11. Removes Bad Odor

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We all know that rosemary oil emits a lovely fragrance that is unmatched by any other scent. But what you probably didn’t know is that it’s the volatile compound myrcene found in this essential oil that lends it this pleasant fragrance. Rosemary oil is extensively used in room fresheners, diffusers, and scented candles to remove bad odors. It is also used in cosmetics, scented bath products, and perfumes.

12. Prevents STDs

Rosemary essential oil contains two very important compounds – beta-pinene and limonene – that possess antiviral properties. These two components have been found to reduce the infectivity of the herpes virus by an astonishing 100% when tested in-vitro (14). However, extensive research still needs to be done to see how effective the oil would be when inhaled or used topically to actually reduce the symptoms and infectivity of STDs in a real-life scenario.

13. Boosts Oral Health

Half a teaspoon of rosemary oil mixed in a cup of distilled water works as an excellent mouthwash. The antibacterial activity of rosemary oil helps prevent cavities, gingivitis, and plaque build-up. It even gets rid of the bacteria Streptococcus sobrinus that takes root in your tooth cavities and is a major cause of tooth decay (15).

14. Aids Liver Detoxification And Enhances Gallbladder Function

Multiple research studies have proven that the antioxidant property of rosemary oil helps in healing injured liver cells in rats and also stops the spread of cancerous cells in liver cells in-vitro (16), (17). Inhaling rosemary has also been known to regulate the production and storage of bile by the liver and gallbladder, thus improving the functioning of the digestive system.

15. Improves Cognitive Function

The next time you find yourself getting distracted while studying for an exam or just can’t seem to focus on the work assignment at hand, inhale some rosemary oil or add a few drops of it in your room diffuser. Not only does it help improve concentration, but it is also great for boosting memory (18).

16. Helps Reduce Nervous Tension And Fatigue

16. Helps Reduce Nervous Tension And Fatigue

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Inhaling rosemary oil when you’re feeling fatigued or tensed acts as a stimulant and helps increase your blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. This, in turn, helps you feel fresher and more energized (19).

17. Works As An Antidepressant

Another great way that rosemary oil benefits mental health is by acting as an antidepressant. The carnosol and betulinic acid found in rosemary oil have been found create an antidepressant effect in rats (20). Aromatherapy using rosemary oil also helps people relax and treats symptoms of depression (21).

 18. Helps In Relieving Anxiety

Here’s some great news for all you nervous test takers out there! A research study had shown that inhaling rosemary oil before a test helped reduce test-taking stress and the overall level of anxiety in nursing students (22).

19. Reduces Acne And Fights Signs Of Aging

The topical application of rosemary oil has been found to reduce the inflammation caused by acne (23). But that’s not all! It also reduces under-eye puffiness and improves circulation to give you glowing skin. Additionally, it fights against sun damage and free radical damage and tightens your skin to combat signs of aging (24).

20. Enhances Hair Health

Say goodbye to all your hair worries with rosemary oil. It infuses new life to thinning hair, gives you thicker locks, and helps treat dandruff (25). Additionally, this essential oil has also been found to stimulate hair growth and treat alopecia (26).

21. Acts As A Mosquito and Insect Repellent

Constantly pestered by mosquitoes and other bugs? Well, I say, no more! Rosemary essential oil contains limonene and camphor that work wonders in repelling all sorts of insects, especially mosquitoes (27).

So, you see, rosemary oil offers a whole range of health benefits, which only begs the question of how is one to use it? Well, compiled below are some of the best ways to use rosemary oil to your advantage.

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Best Rosemary Oil Uses

  • To Clear Out Phlegm: Rosemary oil works as an excellent expectorant. Just rub a couple of drops between your palms and cup them over your mouth and nose for a couple of minutes to expel phlegm from your chest.
  • For Thick Hair: We already know that rosemary oil is a godsend for people with thinning hair. But if you want to boost its hair thickening properties even more, simply add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to a tablespoon of castor oil and two tablespoons of coconut oil and massage it into your hair.
  • Enhances Prostate Health: The anti-inflammatory property of rosemary oil works great in enhancing prostate health. Just add a couple of drops of rosemary essential oil to half a teaspoon of any carrier oil (coconut or olive oil are good options) and rub it under the testicles.
  • Relieves Muscle And Joint Pains: Let the anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties of rosemary essential oil work their magic on your sore muscles and joint pains. Combine a couple drops each of rosemary and peppermint oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil. Massage this concoction on the problem areas for a few minutes to relieve the pain.
  • Essential Oil Diffuser: The pleasant aroma of rosemary oil can provide relief from a number of respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and the nasal congestion from a common cold. Just add 4-5 drops of rosemary oil to your room diffuser or vaporizer.

Want some trivia that’ll make you look oh-so-knowledgeable at the next house party? Then, here are some interesting facts about rosemary oil for your benefit.

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What Are Some Interesting Facts About Rosemary Oil?

Besides providing a range of mental and physical health benefits, rosemary makes for a quite an interesting plant in terms of its origin and usage. Here are a few interesting tidbits:

  • The name rosemary originates from the Latin word rosmarinus, which means ‘mist of the sea.’ This is probably because it doesn’t need much water to grow and can survive on the humidity provided by the sea. This explains why it grows so well on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • A rosemary plant can grow up to 5 meters in height, which is pretty amazing considering it’s a shrub.
  • Rosemary has been used as a symbol of remembrance and scattered on graves since olden times.
  • Rosemary was declared ‘Herb Of The Year’ in 2000 by the International Herb Association. (Honestly, I’m more surprised by the fact that there’s such a thing as an International Herb Association in existence. And, in case you were wondering, the Herb Of The Year for 2018 is hops.)
  • This sweet plant has long been considered a symbol of fidelity and a good omen for marital bond. This is why sprigs of rosemary were fashioned into a headdress worn by the bride while the groom wore a twig on his chest.

Now, that made for some nice fodder for your brain, didn’t it? The only thing left for you to know now is where you can buy rosemary essential oil. Well, just keep reading…

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Where To Buy Rosemary Oil

You can buy rosemary essential oil from your local drugstore or any major online shopping site. I would recommend going for Plant Therapy’s Rosemary Essential Oil as it is 100% organic and has been approved by the USDA. You can buy it online here.

Now, you may buy all the organic rosemary oil you want to avoid all the chemical preservatives in the world, but you can still experience an adverse reaction to it simply because of all the volatile and potent chemicals it is composed of. So, enlighten yourself a bit by reading up on the side effects of rosemary oil.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Rosemary Oil?

Yes, rosemary is quite the wonder elixir that offers health benefits galore. However, there are still a few key things you need to keep in mind when it comes to its side effects. Here’s what you need to know:

  • It is always recommended to dilute rosemary oil or use it with a carrier oil because applying it directly on your skin in its concentrated form has been reported to cause dermatitis.
  • If you are epileptic, it is best that you avoid using rosemary oil as it has been known to cause and aggravate seizures.
  • Rosemary oil has a hypertensive property that makes it mildly elevate blood pressure. Thus, it is not recommended for anyone suffering from a blood pressure problem.
  • Do not ingest it as it is volatile and can cause vomiting and spasms.
  • Anyone with aspirin allergy should steer clear of rosemary oil as it contains the chemical salicylate that is very similar to aspirin.
  • Rosemary oil has the potential of increasing the risk of bleeding and bruising in people with bleeding disorders.
  • Ingesting large amounts rosemary or its oil by pregnant women could possibly cause a miscarriage. Hence, it is best that pregnant and lactating women avoid it.

Who knew that a tiny bottle of rosemary essential oil could offer a whole world of health benefits? If you would like to share your experiences with this wonder oil or have a health issue that you think could be resolved with it, comment below to let us know.

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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

How does rosemary oil work?

Rosemary oil works through inhalation when added to a room diffuser or vaporizer. You could also use it topically, with a few drops added to your bath water or as a massage oil mixed with a carrier oil.

How to make rosemary oil?

You cannot extract the essential oil of rosemary oil at home. However, you can make rosemary infused oil by dropping a few sprigs of dried rosemary leaves in a glass bottle filled with olive oil. Secure the lid tightly and place this bottle in a warm, dark place for two weeks before using it.

What are the oils that blend well with rosemary oil?

Rosemary oil blends well with a wide variety of other essential oils like wild orange, lemon, jasmine, lavender, frankincense, peppermint, basil, and eucalyptus.

Which rosemary oil is good for hair?

Any pure and organic rosemary oil is good for using on hair when combined with a carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil.

Does rosemary oil help hair regrowth?

Yes, rosemary oil does help hair regrowth as it stimulates blood circulation in the scalp.

References

  1. Antioxidant activities of rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis L.) extract, blackseed (Nigella sativaL.) essential oil, carnosic acid, rosmarinic acid and sesamol.” Akdeniz University, Turkey.
  2. Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil in experimental animal models.” State University of Maringá, Brazil.
  3. Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and BeautyRoberta Wilson, USA.
  4. Rosemary.” University Of Maryland, USA.
  5. Hydroalcoholic extract of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) and its constituent carnosol inhibit formalin-induced pain and inflammation in mice.Azad Islamic University, Iran.
  6. Investigations into the specific effects of rosemary oil at the receptor level.Med. University Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
  7. Effects of Aromatherapy in blending oil of Basil, Lavender, Rosemary, and Rose on Headache, Anxiety and Serum Cortisol level in the Middle-Aged Women.” Korean Society of Biological Nursing Science, South Korea.
  8. In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils.Loyola College.
  9. Pharmacology of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.) and its therapeutic potentials.Al-Fateh University of Medical Sciences, Libya.
  10. Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva.Meikai University, School of Dentistry, Japan.
  11. Carnosol: a promising anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent. University of Illinois at Chicago, USA.
  12. Anticancer Effects of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) Extract and Rosemary Extract Polyphenols.Brock University, Canada
  13. Supercritical rosemary extracts, their antioxidant activity and effect on hepatic tumor progression.Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain.
  14. Antiviral activity of monoterpenes beta-pinene and limonene against herpes simplex virus in vitro. University of Medical Sciences, Iran.
  15. In vitro inhibitory effects of rosemary extracts on growth and glucosyltransferase activity of Streptococcus sobrinus. Yuanpei University, Taiwan.
  16. Antioxidant activity of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) essential oil and its hepatoprotective potential. University of Novi Sad, Serbia.
  17. Antiproliferative, protective and antioxidant effects of artichoke, dandelion, turmeric and rosemary extracts and their formulation.Università G. d’Annunzio Chieti-Pescara, Italy.
  18. Aromas Of Rosemary And Lavender Essential Oils Differentially Cognition And Mood In Healthy Adults.University Of Northumbria, UK.
  19. Effects of Inhaled Rosemary Oil on Subjective Feelings and Activities of the Nervous System.Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
  20. Antidepressant-like effects of fractions, essential oil, carnosol and betulinic acid isolated from Rosmarinus officinalis L.Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário, Brazil.
  21. Depression.University Of Maryland, USA.
  22. The Effects of Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oils on Test-Taking Anxiety Among Graduate Nursing Students.Florida Atlantic University, USA.
  23. Rosmarinus officinalis Extract Suppresses Propionibacterium acnes–Induced Inflammatory Responses.Taipei Medical University, Taiwan.
  24. Skin Rejuvenation: The Use of Rosemary from Food to Face.Southwest Institute Of Natural Aesthetics, USA.
  25. Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty, Hair, and Skin Care.Keller, E. USA
  26. Randomized trial of aromatherapy. Successful treatment for alopecia areata.” Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Scotland.
  27. Mosquito repellent activity of essential oils of aromatic plants growing in Argentina.Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina.

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