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Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a fragrant evergreen herb, originally cultivated around the Mediterranean Sea and in Africa.1

While primarily used in a variety of dishes for flavoring, rosemary has a long history of use beyond the dinner table. The herb has been traditionally employed as a love charm and natural remedy for all matters of ailments, including memory loss, muscle pain, and hair loss.2

Today, rosemary essential oil is used in a variety of ways, from soothing indigestion and relieving muscle pain, to aromatherapy and reducing stress.

Rosemary essential oil is extracted from the needles of the rosemary plants using steam distillation, resulting in the clear, fragrant essential oil.

Rosemary Essential Oil Uses

Known for its welcoming and outdoorsy fragrance, rosemary essential oil can be applied topically or inhaled using aromatherapy. Whether you’re looking to soothe achy muscles, or enhance your haircare routine, the following are some of the popular uses for rosemary essential oil.

Adding just 1-2 drops of rosemary essential oil to a humidifier or diffuser may act as a mental stimulant and help you feel more alert. Inhaling the scent of rosemary is considered by herbalists as a way to temporarily boost mental focus and memory recall.

Soothe an Upset Stomach
Applied topically to the stomach, rosemary essential oil may be used to help alleviate bloating, cramps, flatulence, and the other symptoms of indigestion. Simply add 1-3 drops of rosemary essential oil to a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut, and rub onto the stomach. It is considered a gentler alternative to laxatives.

Rosemary essential oil has a long history of being used to stimulate hair growth, and is a commonly found as an ingredient in many shampoos and haircare products today. It has also been reported to function as a scalp moisturizer and help reduce dandruff. To use rosemary essential oil for hair care, add approximately 5 drops of rosemary essential oil to jojoba oil and massage the mixture on the scalp and hair. Rosemary essential oil can also be added to a commercial shampoo or conditioner.

Ease Respiratory Issues
Rosemary essential oil is often used to alleviate symptoms of respiratory conditions. Adding rosemary essential oil into a diffuser or hot water and inhaling the vapors may help soothe irritated throats and ease congestion. 

Pain Relief
Rosemary essential oil can be used to help relieve muscle pain by massaging the diluted essential oil onto sore muscles. It has been used as a therapeutic tool to help alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and headaches. Add one or two drops of rosemary essential oil to a carrier oil and massage on areas experiencing pain.

Aromatic Bath
Promote mental and physical relaxation by adding a few drops of rosemary essential oil to a hot bath. The strong aroma is also thought to temporarily restore alertness and focus.

Benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary essential oil is used to help treat a long list of ailments and maladies. Recently published scientific studies and preliminary findings have confirmed many of rosemary essential oil’s benefits.

Antioxidant Properties 
In the body, antioxidants help to remove potentially damaging free radicals that may cause oxidative stress, DNA damage, or become cancerous. Rosemary essential oil has been shown to exhibit antioxidant properties in both laboratory settings and animal models.3,5

In a recent clinical study, researchers investigated these antioxidant properties against induced liver damage. Animal subjects orally ingested rosemary essential oil as a preventive method, before acute liver injury was induced.3

Data suggests that the essential oil demonstrated hepatoprotective (liver protecting) effects which were able to partially reduce the acute liver damage. The rosemary essential oil also significantly reduced oxidative stress, a state which fosters harmful free radicals and development of several diseases.3

Note: While this data is promising, essential oils still require extensive research before they can be considered as an alternative approach to serious medical conditions.

Compounds present in rosemary essential oil have been shown to act as antimicrobial agents, slowing down and inhibiting bacterial growth in food.4 This property is what gives rosemary its colloquial claim as a preservative.

In a 2016 clinical study, researchers tested both rosemary and  thyme essential oil’s antimicrobial activity on raw, unpasteurized beef samples. Researchers concluded that of the two oils, rosemary was significantly more effective at inhibiting listeria growth.While by no means an effective food sterilizer, this may be a promising area of further research for rosemary essential oil.

Anti-Cancer Activity
Several preliminary studies have shown that rosemary essential oil may contribute to slowing the growth of cancerous tumors by disrupting the reproduction of cancerous cells. In both in vitro and animal models, rosemary essential oil has been observed to significantly inhibit mutagenesis (genetic mutation), reduce tumor occurrence, and provide cell-protective effects.5

Note: As these studies are only preliminary findings, further research still needs to be conducted before rosemary essential oil could be used in the treatment of cancer.

Healthy Scalp and Hair
Traditionally, rosemary was believed to be a cure for baldness and thinning hair. While these claims have yet to be tested, recent scientific studies have confirmed rosemary essential oil’s antimicrobial properties can be used in combination with shampoo to help eliminate dandruff and maintain a healthy scalp.5

Mental Stimulant and Memory Booster
Several studies have shown that aromatherapy with rosemary essential oil may temporarily influence cognitive abilities. In a 2003 study, researchers noted that after patients inhaled rosemary essential oil, a temporary boost in mental alertness, memory recollection, and feelings of contentment were observed.5

Pain Relief
Clinical trials have shown evidence, both in animal and human testing, that rosemary essential oil contains bioactive compounds that may help reduce pain, particularly from rheumatoid arthritis. Inhalation has also been supported by human evidence to help reduce perceived pain.5

Generally, rosemary essential oil is combined with other agents to reduce swelling and pain. But evidence from several studies suggest that aromatherapy with a combination of rosemary, lavendermarjorameucalyptus, and peppermint essential oils may help reduce perceived pain and temporarily alleviate symptoms of anxiety or depression.5

Stress Relief
Rosemary essential oil has been shown to reduce stress levels in individuals when used in aromatherapy. While patients self-reported, these changes shown that patients do feel less anxious and more relaxed after rosemary aromatherapy.5

rosemary essential oil uses, side effects and rosemary essential oil for hair

Rosemary Essential Oil Side Effects

Rosemary essential oil is considered safe when diluted and applied topically or used in aromatherapy.5
It is advised that rosemary essential oil be avoided by children and pregnant women.

Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be toxic if consumed. Rosemary essential oil should not be ingested orally.5 Always be sure to read and follow the label to make sure a product is right for you.

Where to Buy Rosemary Essential Oil

Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.

Scientific Research Referenced in this Article

  1. Taxon: Rosmarinus officinalis L. (1994, August 23). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?32207
  2. University of Maryland Medical Center. (2014, June 7). Rosemary. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/rosemary – View reference
  3. Rašković, A., Milanović, I., Pavlović, N., Ćebović, T., Vukmirović, S., & Mikov, M. (2014). Antioxidant activity of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) essential oil and its hepatoprotective potential. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine14, 225. http://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-14-225
  4. Ana Rita Gouveia, Márcio Alves, José António Silva, Cristina Saraiva. (2016) The Antimicrobial Effect of Rosemary and Thyme Essential Oils Against Listeria Monocytogenes in Sous Vide Cook-chill Beef During Storage. Procedia Food Science, Volume 7, 173-176, ISSN 2211-601X, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.profoo.2016.10.001
  5. Ulbricht, C., Abrams, T. R., Brigham, A., Ceurvels, J., Clubb, J., Curtiss, W., & Windsor, R. C. (2010). An evidence-based systematic review of rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) by the natural standard research collaboration. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 7(4), 351-413. doi:10.3109/19390211.2010.525049. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/19390211.2010.525049