Rosemary (Scientific name Salvia Rosmarinus) is a perennial herb naturally occurring in the Mediterranean region and parts of Asia. It is characterised by the fragrant needle-like evergreen leaves and pink, white, purple or blue flowers. Due to its distinct fragrance- Rosemary is a widely used ingredient in both the culinary and the perfume world. A member of the Lamiaceae family of mint plants, the word Rosemary is derived from the Latin “ros marinus” (translation- Dew of the sea).
Rosemary is reported to have been used by the ancient Egyptians in their burial rituals as early as 5000 BC. It is also documented as an essential herb in the Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides’ book De Materia Medica- one of the most famous ancient books on herbal medicine. Several phytochemicals such as caffeic Acid, rosmarinic Acid, betulinic Acid, camphor, ursolic Acid, carnosol, and carnosic Acid as well as good sources of Vitamin B6, Iron and Calcium are present in Rosemary. It is used in stuffings as well as for seasoning chicken, pork or lamb and is one of the key ingredients in the Mediterranean cuisine. It is available not only as whole dried herbs, dried leaves or in powder form but also the kind of tea and other liquid extracts. When consumed in extremely high doses, Rosemary is known to cause side effects like vomiting, nausea, spasms, coma, pulmonary oedema (fluid in the lungs). However, it is generally safe for moderate consumption and has a load of benefits, such as:
1) It acts as a Natural Antibiotic
Rosemary is known to be an excellent antimicrobial agent. A powdered form of Rosemary leaves used as flea or tick repellent. It is also noted for its antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
2) Helps enhance the functions of the brain
As laughable as it may sound, sniffing the Rosemary leaves helps you to become smarter. According to a study conducted by a team of scientists at the University of Northumbria(United Kingdom), people reported much-enhanced memory and brain functioning. 1,8- cineole, a volatile compound which gives Rosemary its distinct aroma- increases a chief neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is known to improve learning, memory and arousal. Medications used to treat dementia act similar to the way 1,8- cineole does.
3) It is beneficial if you are planning to lose weight
Carnosic Acid, found in Rosemary leaves, is believed to inhibit the formation of fat cells in the body. Rosemary helps ward off hunger and thus is very helpful for the health-conscious people trying to lose weight.
4) Possesses potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Rosemary is known to consist of potent antioxidant compounds such as caffeic AcidAcid (which is also used as a natural fungicide in plants), carnosic AcidAcid. Antioxidants are useful in the removal of harmful free radicals from the body.
5) It is the natural AntiCancer Wonder
Studies have shown that Crude Ethanolic Rosemary Extract(CERE) slows the growth of cancerous cells, especially in the case of leukaemia and breast cancer. The phytochemicals Caffeic Acid, Ursolic Acid, Betulinic Acid, are all inhibitors of Cancer Cell Proliferation.
6)It is good for the eye
A study conducted by Dr Stuart A Lipton and his colleagues at the Sanford-Burham Medical Research Institute concluded that Carnosic Acid, found in Rosemary powder, protects against diseases affecting the outer part of the retina. Diseases affecting the retina include the very commonly occurring Macular Degeneration.
7) It benefits the Neurological and the Digestive System
Ursolic AcidAcid is beneficial for the regeneration of the nerves and the liver. Studies done on rats suggest that Ursolic Acid and Carnosic Acid help in recovery from a sciatic nerve injury. This is helpful for patients who have suffered from a stroke. Rosemary powder is also used for treatment and is known to be beneficial to the digestive system. A strong antioxidant, Carnosic Acid is used as a preservative or antioxidant in food and non-food items like toothpaste, mouthwash as well. Its antimicrobial properties make it useful for skincare products and against bad breath.