Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Other common name: Rosemarine, garden rosemary

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Family: Lamiaceae


Diagram courtesy of Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen


Analgesic, astringent, aromatic, circulatory tonic/stimulant, antifungal/antimicrobial, antioxidant, smooth muscle modulating, antispasmodic, carminative, appetite stimulant, anti-inflammatory, cholagogue, bitter, diaphoretic (promotes sweating and this in turn reduces fever), anti-pruritic, hair, skin and nail tonic, diuretic, vermifuge, rubefacient (mild), stimulant, lowers blood sugar.


Only harvest from well-established plants, cutting above the woody part of the stems. It is best to harvest right before flowers open, and do not harvest while the plant is in the blooming stage. Rosemary tends to flower some time between March and October (may flower in more than one phase per year). Use caution when harvesting in fall, avoid taking too much from it too close to the time of frost – the plant needs to save its strength to get through winter.

Part used: Aerial parts


Phenolic acids (rosmarinic acid), bitter diterpenes (carnosol, rosmanol), triterpenes (oleic and ursolic acid), monoterpene ketones, triterpene alcohols and flavonoids.


Photo courtesy of Retama / Wikimedia Commons

Essential oil contains 8-cineole, a-pinene, camphor, b-pinene, borneol, iso-bornyl acetate, limonene, linalool, 3-octanone, terpineol and verbinol.


Used to treat poor appetite, high blood sugar, lice, flatulence, headaches and other mild to moderate pain – especially that which can be aggravated by circulatory issues, such as migraines, muscle spasms, poor circulation, swelling, inflammation, rheumatism, hair loss or unhealthy hair, dandruff, parasites, any skin conditions, itching, internal or external infections (viral, bacterial or fungal), memory loss, blood clots, brain “fog”, high blood pressure. Also makes a good insect repellent. It has also been proposed that an enzyme in rosemary could be anti-cancerous, but this has not been tested thoroughly.

Medicinal preparation:


Tea (standard infusion) is popular, as is tincture (45% alc.) and capsule form. The tea in particular encourages blood flow, and promotes sweating.


Rosemary can be infused in oil, or its essential oil (therapeutic grade only) can be added in salves, creams or other topical applications. The oil, or a strong “tea” of rosemary can be massaged into the scalp and hair, or added to shampoo. You can also use rosemary tea as a wash for yeast infections, or any other skin complaint or wound infections. It is an excellent addition to herbal steam inhalations for chest congestion and flus, and foot baths for those with chronically cold feet. It can be simmered on the stove or the oil can be used in an infuser, as it will kill airborne bacteria as it is dispersed into the air. Excellent to use as a cleaning agent or a steam diffuser agent when you have one sick person in the house and don’t want to get everyone else sick as well. It also makes a great facial treatment (steam, wash or cream) for acne, eczema or other skin conditions).


Do not use if pregnant or nursing, use moderately in the elderly, check with a doctor before using if you take medications – especially blood pressure medicationss, blood thinners, or psychiatric drugs. Do not give to a patient with severe diabetes or hypoglycaemia, or with kidneys that are compromised in any way. Stick to the dosage recommended by a qualified herbal practitioner: rosemary taken in very large doses can cause digestive irritation and even kidney damage. If the patient is allergic, they will usually get contact dermatitis from touching the plant, so that can make for a valuable indicator. Do not give to patients with pre-existing brain or seizure disorders, as some of the constituents (monoterpene ketones) have been known to bring on convulsions in very high doses.


Photo courtesy of Tomasz Sienicki / Wikimedia Commons

Energetic/traditional use:

Masculine, fire, sun. Head and heart matters, study, fidelity, mental clarity, focus, blessing, honouring roots and history, purifies human energy fields, love and lust, cleansing, healing, preventing nightmares, attracting fae folk, friendship, passion. Used for purification and smudging a space before performing rites.

Often called “elf leaf”, rosemary was once used as an incense in religious ceremonies, and as an oil for anointing and blessing. It has strong ties to memory, both of past life and current life events. In fact it used to be buried with the dead to ensure that they would never be forgotten. Lovers will give rosemary to their mates heading off to war, to remind them of the support waiting for them back at home. Brides wear it in their hair to remember their roots, and in their bouquets to remember their vows. It is affiliated with fidelity (for the same reason…remembering your mate waiting for you at home), and also practical uses such as studying for exams.

Legend has it that when rosemary grows vigorously in a household, the woman wears the pants. It was used often in Egyptian rites. In Hungary it was once used to treat royalty with conditions such as gout and baldness. It is a key ingredient in the “Queen of Hungary’s water.”

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

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