Rosemary is a herb that is found all around the world in suburban gardens, dried in little bags and fresh at grocery stores. It’s a herb that has been used for medicine and in gastronomy for thousands of years and packs a powerful punch. Rosmarinus officianalis belongs to Lamiacae family (which has all the herbs in it) and the genus Rosmarinus.
I have written about this wonderful herb before when I attended a funeral and we were offered sprigs of rosemary to place on the coffin (Remember with Rosemary – Lest We Forget). Rosemary’s traditional use is that of remembering.
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” (Hamlet, iv. 5.) Wikipedia
The fresh herb and of course the essential oil, is stimulating to the mind, and is warming and generally stimulating in its nature. It is high in 1-8 cineole (found in high amounts in Eucalyptus), and camphor and a-pinene (also found in many others oils including sage and thyme, citrus oils, eucalyptus and cedarwood).
Rosemary was found in the tombs of Egypt, used by the Greeks and Romans as medicine and revered as a sacred herb. More modern herbalists and physicians from the middle ages have used rosemary to treat any sickness of the head – and in this way we could see rosemary as a “cephalic oil” – the same as basil, which I have just written about. It has been used as a treatment for the liver, muscle aches and pains and for colds and sinus.
In aromatherapy today rosemary is used –
* for muscular aches and pains
* for stimulating memory – to be used in study and for the elderly
* for warming the body and increasing circulation to extremities
* as a digestive tonic
* as a tonic for the spleen meridian organs (liver, gall bladder, pancreas, spleen)
As you can see the modern uses of rosemary are the same as the traditional uses of rosemary – stimulating and warming. It certainly is a strongly flavoured herb. Recently my friend, who has loads of rosemary bushes on his new property, stuck some in a bottle of gin and it didn’t take very long for the flavour to infuse.
I use rosemary frequently in my practice. Most clients have some type of muscle stiffness or soreness and rosemary is a real winner when it comes to relieving muscle tension. I’ll often use lavender, rosemary and marjoram together for a warming, pain relieving oil blend.
Rosemary oil is produced in a few countries around the world and this herb and oil has some very common chemotypes (again this is similar to basil and other herbs like marjoram too). Different chemotypes will have different scents and varying degrees of the common chemical constituents, depending on the soil, climate and other factors. Don’t get too confused, just dive in and use whatever rosemary oil you can find. It’s inexpensive and easily accessible!