The most interesting health benefits of rosemary include its ability to boost memory, improve mood, treat Alzheimer’s, heal cancer, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and protect the immune system. The herb also helps stimulate circulation, detoxify the body, protect the body from bacterial infections, prevent premature aging, and heal skin conditions.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial woody evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean region. It has fine needle-like leaves with a silver touch and pink, purple, white, or blue flowers. It is one of the most commonly found herbs in a spice rack. The herb has a warm, bitter, and astringent taste but yet it gives a wonderful flavor and aroma to soups, sauces, stews, roasts, and stuffing. It can be used in dried powder form or as fresh leaves. Its leaves can be used to prepare tea, essential oil, and liquid extract.
The herb is considered to be sacred by ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, as well as Hebrews and is particularly prevalent in Italian cultural cuisine. It is also called as ‘Dew of the Sea’ or ‘Old man’.
According to USDA, fresh rosemary has a very high reserve of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamin, folate, as well as minerals like magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, and manganese. It has abundant antioxidants in its phenolic compounds such as diterpene, carnosol, and rosmarinic acid, as well as in its essential oils such as cineol, camphene, borneol, bornyl acetate, α-terpineol, and α-pinene. The herb has high dietary fiber. It is low in cholesterol and sodium but high in saturated fats.
Put a teaspoon of rosemary into a 200ml cup of boiled water. Cover it and let it brew for 10 minutes. Strain and drink a cup 2-3 times per day.
The oil of rosemary promotes hair growth, prevents baldness, slows graying, treats dandruff, and dry scalp. A comparative study published in 2015 shows that rosemary oil is better than minoxidil 2% when it comes to treating androgenetic alopecia (permanent balding) cases by boosting hair growth. It also promotes healing by increasing microcirculation of scalp and decreases hair loss after shampooing.
One of the earliest documented uses of rosemary for health reasons was as a cognitive stimulant. It helped improve memory performance and quality. It is also known to boost alertness, intelligence, and focus.
Rosemary prevents beta-amyloid plaques and suppresses acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which are primary causes of Alzheimer’s, ataxia and dementia. It has also been linked to stimulating cognitive activity in the elderly as well as those suffering from other acute cognitive disorders. A research titled “Brain Food for Alzheimer-Free Ageing: Focus on Herbal Medicines” suggests that rosemary is one of the best foods you can include in your diet.
The carnosic acid in rosemary has neuroprotective properties. A 2016 study suggests that it helps to reduce oxidative stress and overstimulation in nerve cells, ultimately protecting the nervous system. It is also known to protect certain parts of the brain from tissue damage such as ischemic injury, heals nervous tissue, and reduce blood clots.
Rosemary has been linked to lower levels of cirrhosis and a faster healing time of the liver, which is one of the slowest organs to heal. It also reduces plasma liver enzymes, which may cause type-2 diabetes. Carnosol prevents liver tissue distortion. It also prevents depletion of liver glycogen, the energy storage molecules.
A study conducted on the anti-depressant effects of rosemary concluded that the aroma of rosemary alone has been linked to improving mood and clearing the mind. It has a calming effect on those who suffer from chronic anxiety and depression. Furthermore, it reduces salivary cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, which helps ease tension in the body.
Carnosol in rosemary balances androgen and estrogen hormones in the body. It also lowers the release of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) hormone, which helps improve prostate health and enhance hair growth.
The Nutrition and Cancer journal has published a study in 2015, which suggests that rosemary extract is very helpful in treating cancer. Manganese, carnosol, rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, and other rosemary extracts have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and anticancer properties. They selectively kill cancer cells. It has shown promising results in the treatment of various cancers including colon, blood, breast, prostate, ovarian, cervical, liver, lung, bladder, and pancreatic cancer.
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