Rosemary is an instantly recognisable herb with its needle-like leaves and fragrant, woody smell. It's popular in cooking because of its aromatic qualities, but did you know that rosemary benefits can help improve several areas of your health as well? If you didn't, this is for you. We've picked out the top nine rosemary benefits and outlined what they can do for you. Additionally, we've found studies that prove these benefits have excellent potential.
- Rosemary Can Help Balance Your Hormones
- Rosemary Is Good for Your Gut
- Rosemary Is Good for Reducing Inflammation
- Rosemary May Help Reduce Balding in Men and Women
- Rosemary Is a Neuroprotective
- Rosemary Eases Stress Levels
- Rosemary Has Pain Relieving Properties
- Rosemary Can Increase Your Circulation
- Rosemary Has Anti-Cancer Properties
What Is Rosemary?
Rosemary goes by the scientific name of Rosmarinus officinalis. You'll find this perennial evergreen herb growing wild in the Mediterranean region. When you look at it, you'll see thin, dark-green leaves that are very fine and look like the needles of a pine tree. They have a silver hue, and rosemary has purple, pink, blue or white flowers. The aroma is very distinctive and studies have shown that simply enjoying the aromatic qualities may stimulate the mind. (1)
Rosemary is one of the most common culinary herbs. It has a slightly pungent but warm taste that pairs beautifully with other fragrant herbs like sage and thyme, and you'll find it as a key ingredient in a host of sauces, soups, roasts, stuffing and stews. It lends a comforting smell and flavour. You can use it in dried form or you can pick and toss the fresh leaves right in. (2)
The use of rosemary for medicinal purposes goes back centuries because of its health benefits. The ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks and Romans considered rosemary sacred. You may hear it called "Old man" or "Dew of the Sea" due to the natural growing conditions. (3)
Fresh rosemary is a source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese and copper. It also has high levels of vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin B6. This is a great reason to drink teas made with rosemary and to incorporate it into your cooking. (4)
Since it has a huge range of antioxidants, rosemary is good for stopping and repairing damage to your cells and systems caused by oxidative stress. As these antioxidants go to work at a cellular level, they help to keep your cells performing at optimal levels. In turn, this improves your overall health. (5)(6)
9 Powerful Rosemary BenefitsRosemary has direct links to several powerful health benefits. People routinely use fresh and dried rosemary along with rosemary essential oil to help with common ailments. We've picked out the top nine benefits of rosemary and outlined them for you below.
1. Rosemary Can Help Balance Your Hormones
Rosemary contains a strong antioxidant called carnosol. This antioxidant comes packed into rosemary and certain types of sage. It can be extracted from rosemary or sage leaves.
Carnosol has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Around 90% of the antioxidant properties of carnosol come from carnosic acid. (7) This antioxidant works by balancing the oestrogen and androgen hormone levels in your body. It can also reduce the amount of DHT. In turn, this can enhance your hair growth and regulate your menstrual cycle. (8)(9)
One randomised trial took people with patterned baldness and split them into two groups. For six months, one group used rosemary extract and one group used Rogaine to treat their hair loss. At the end of the study, researchers found that rosemary was just as effective as the commercial treatment. Also, one of the benefits of rosemary is that it improved scalp health and reduced itchy scalp better than the Rogaine did. (10)
Rosemary also activates the NRF detoxification pathways, and this can help to restore balance to your hormone levels. These pathways flush out excess hormones and toxins while regulating your levels of DHT. (11)
2. Rosemary Is Good for Your Gut
For centuries, rosemary's anti-inflammatory properties have been put to use as a natural remedy for constipation, gas, diarrhoea and bloating. Making a point to add rosemary to your diet can help to regulate your gastrointestinal tract and your bowel movements. (12)(13)
Animal studies involving mice and rats showed that rosemary could stimulate the digestive system to produce bile. Researchers took rats with liver damage and gave them rosemary essential oil at five and ten milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
At the end of the week study, they found that both groups of rats had increased bile production and antioxidants. However, the rats that received the 10 milligrams had better antioxidant activity and liver function. (14) In turn, healthy liver function keeps your gallbladder functioning at the best levels possible, and this improves your gut health. It reduces any inflammation and it can be useful in fighting irritable bowel syndrome. All of this will help to regulate your digestive system. (15)(16)
3. Rosemary Is Good for Reducing Inflammation
Inflammation is the root cause of many illnesses and health problems people experience. In particular, rosemary has proven to be beneficial in helping people with arthritis experience less pain and stiffness. Researchers believe that rosemary's anti-inflammatory properties are due to its ability to stop the flow of white blood cells to injured tissues. (17)
Rosemary contains carnosic and carnosol. These are two powerful anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants. One study took people with rheumatoid arthritis and split them into two groups. They gave everyone in the first group a 15-minute massage on their knees with rosemary oil. The second group got knee massages as well, but without the rosemary.
They repeated this process three times a week for two weeks. At the end of the trial, the participants who used the oil reported as much as a 50% decrease in their knee pain. The group that didn't use the rosemary oil only reported a 12% decrease in pain and inflammation. This is a difference of 38%. (18)
4. Rosemary May Help Reduce Balding in Men and Women
Hair thinning and hair loss are common problems for men and women. Around half of the population has a problem with balding. This condition is called androgenic alopecia. Although it usually impacts men, it also impacts women. (19)
One study took 87 people with balding and hair loss issues and split them into two random groups. The study lasted seven months with a follow-up at month three and month seven. Group A massaged essential oils like rosemary into their scalps every day. Group B massaged carrier oils into their scalps every day.
Two dermatologists measured the results. They found that group A had 19 out of 43 (44%) patients reporting improvements. Group B had 6 out of 41 (15%) patients reporting improvements. (20) Along with improving your scalp health, rosemary promotes hair follicle health. It helps to keep hair follicles healthy and resistant to damage due to hormone imbalances or external factors. (21)
5. Rosemary Is a Neuroprotective
Rosemary's levels of the antioxidant carnosic lend powerful neuroprotective properties to people who use it. Neuroprotective properties are things that protect your central nervous system from damage and injury.
One study showed that rosemary's carnosic acid may help to reduce the amount of oxidative stress your body goes through. The same study showed that it could help to prevent your nerve cells from getting overstimulated. In turn, this protects your nervous system from overreacting and firing. (22)(23)
Additionally, rosemary can protect your brain from tissue damage. Simply inhaling rosemary can help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine. This is a brain chemical that can help with concentration and thinking.
Researchers took 20 volunteers and did two trials. They diffused rosemary during one and didn't diffuse it during the second trial. During the diffusion, they had the volunteers perform simple addition and subtraction. They took blood tests before and after the treatment. Researchers found that the volunteers scored higher with the math problems during the trial when the rosemary was diffused. (24)(25)
6. Rosemary Eases Stress Levels
Stress is part of everyday life. Some people thrive in high-stress environments while others don't do well. However, long-term exposure to stress can lead to a variety of health problems that impact all of your systems.
Several studies prove that rosemary can be helpful in helping ease your stress levels. One study supporting this claim involved nursing students. Scientists had nursing students breathe in rosemary oil out of an inhaler before they took their exams.
They found that, on average, the students' pulse rates decreased by 9%. When they took the exams without the rosemary oil inhaler, there was no change in their pulse rate. Since an increased pulse rate is an indicator of anxiety or stress, rosemary may naturally reduce stress. (26)(27)
Another study took 22 young adults and split them into two groups of 11. Group A breathed in the scent of rosemary for five minutes, and group B breathed in a non-aromatic compound. They tested their saliva before and after the five minutes for their levels of cortisol. Group A had significantly lower levels of cortisol in their saliva than group B. This is important because cortisol can suppress your immune system, cause insomnia and more. (28)(29)
7. Rosemary Has Pain Relieving Properties
Rosemary has a long history of displaying pain-relieving properties. One thing it was regularly used for was to help decrease the pain felt with dysmenorrhea and renal colic. Researchers found that both topical and oral applications of rosemary and rosemary oil could produce mild but lasting pain relieving properties. (30)
A two-week study involving stroke survivors tested rosemary's pain-relieving properties. Each day, one group of stroke survivors got a rosemary oil blend topically applied and combined with acupressure. These sessions lasted 20 minutes each, and they happened twice a day. The second group got just acupressure with no rosemary oil. At the end of the study, the group that got both the rosemary and acupressure reported a 30% reduction in pain levels. The second group reported only a 15% reduction in their pain levels. (31)
One animal study also demonstrated that rosemary can be slightly more effective than acetaminophen for pain relief. (32)
8. Rosemary Can Increase Your Circulation
Many people have issues with their circulation, particularly in their extremities like their feet or hands. Poor circulation can cause you to have cold toes or fingers in all temperatures from cold to hot weather. Rosemary can increase your circulation.
A study involving a woman with Raynaud's disease demonstrated this. Raynaud's disease is a disorder where your blood vessels in your toes and fingers constrict in response to the cold or stress. This causes your toes and fingers to feel cold to the touch and lose their colour.
During the study, the women got a hand massage with a rosemary blend of oil and a neutral oil. She found that the rosemary oil blend was more effective at warming her fingers than the neutral oil. (33)
A second study showed that using rosemary as a topical oil can also stimulate your red blood cells. It encourages your body to create more red blood cells and boosts your circulation levels. (34)
9. Rosemary Has Anti-Cancer Properties
Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world. In 2015, the Nutrition and Cancer journal published a short study that highlighted potential links between anti-cancer properties and rosemary extract. (35)(36)
Rosemary's properties work to selectively kill off cancer cells. A large report compiled results from several studies and found that rosemary was beneficial in helping with breast, colon, ovarian, lung, prostate, blood, pancreatic, liver and bladder cancers.
Animal studies in the report involving mice took mice and split them into two groups. One group got 100 milligrams per kilogram of rosemary extract every day for two weeks, and the second group got neutral compounds at 100 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. After four weeks, the mice that got the 100 milligrams of rosemary extract reported tumour shrinkage. (37)
Where Can I Find Rosemary?
Rosemary, in any form, has proven to be a powerful natural remedy for a variety of health issues. Rosemary benefits are very well documented and researched with a long history supporting them. It might be worth it for you to consider adding it to your diet if you don't normally use it. You do want to talk to your doctor first, but this natural herb is typically safe.
You can also find rosemary as part of the formula of Hormone Harmony. This supplement combines the benefits of rosemary with other natural ingredients to wipe out hormonal weight gain, hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, and lack of desire. You can get it here!
Editor's note. Originally published on July 21, 2019. Edited and updated on June 3, 2022.