Rosemary has a long history of use all over the world. It holds an important place in both European and Chinese herbal medicine. Its name comes from the Latin for ‘dew of the sea,’ as it often grows near the ocean. Rosemary is a woody shrub with narrow, dark green leaves, which are almost like needles. It prefers sandy, dry soil and partial sun. The leaves are picked after the second year of growth and generally used in cooking and in teas.
During World War II and well before, French hospitals burned Rosemary leaves with Juniper berries to prevent the spread of infection. Greek students often burn the leaves when they are studying for exams to improve concentration and memory. Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, says, “Rosemary...that’s for remembrance...”
More scientific research has been done on Rosemary than on many herbs. Some research suggests that it may be able to shrink tumors. It has also been shown to be antispasmodic and anti-convulsive. Because of these actions, it can be used for stomach cramps, aiding treatment for IBS. Rosemary helps digestion, improves the appetite, and helps prevent flatulence.
Scientific evidence also exists to prove that Rosemary protects and cleans the liver by stimulating the release of bile. It is an antioxidant and can be drunk as a general tonic as well.
Rosemary stimulates circulation, and can help with arthritis, rheumatism, sciatica, neuralgia, and aching muscles. To use it for these purposes, drink it as a tea or put it in a bath in a cloth bag. You can also use the essential oil of Rosemary diluted into a massage oil. Rosemary raises blood pressure and thus, can help with dizziness, fainting, and other manifestations of low blood pressure.
A strong tea of Rosemary can be used as a mouthwash to prevent bad breath as it effectively kills germs found in the mouth and throat. It also has a long history of being used as a hair rinse to both darken brunette hair and keep it from falling out.
Rosemary can be very helpful for the female reproductive system. It regulates menstruation and helps with menstrual cramps. A strong tea of Rosemary made with distilled water can be used as a douche to kill yeast infections, as it is also a fungicide.
Emotionally, Rosemary tea is used to stimulate and warm the psyche. It is considered a nervine and can be drunk for energy, motivation, to banish depression, help memory, and aid concentration. The essential oil can be burned in an aromalamp for all these effects as well as imparting a general air of joy to a room.