The next herb I would like to speak about in our garden edition of posts is Rosemary. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is pungent and bitter and has a warm and dry quality to it. It is very popular cooking herb and for just cause.
Rosemary has a wonderful flavor, and it helps to aid in the digestion of fats and starches and helps to preserve food by inhibiting food borne microbs. Its warming effect on the gut can help with indigestion with abdominal pain and bloating and loose mucousy stools. A western diagnosis would include chronic gastroenteritis, colitis and stomach upset that has a physiological basis.
Rosemary's warm and dry qualities also helpful to the respiratory and the reproductive systems. In the lungs, it dispels wind-damp-cold, helping to relieve symptoms of a full cough with white frothy sputum. In the reproductive system rosemary acts as a stimulant for scanty, delayed or stopped periods with low sexual energy. Other Chinese syndromes that rosemary might be helpful for include Heart and Kidney Yang deficiency presenting circulation issues, low blood pressure fatigue and cold limbs; and Heart Blood deficiency and Spleen Qi deficiency.
The rosemary plant is a symbol of remembrance. Ancient Greeks used to wear rosemary to keep their memory sharp during exams. By improving peripheral circulation as well as circulation to the brain, rosemary helps to improve memory. Many constituents of rosemary have been linked to inhibiting the break down of acetylcholine in the brain. A deficiency of acetylcholine has been linked to Alzheimer's disease, making rosemary a great herb to help with memory issues, in the short and long term. Rosemary paired with ginkgo would be a great combination to help individuals with memory issues.
Rosemary is also a great herb to combat thinning hair and premature balding. A tea can be used as a hair wash to strengthen and brighten hair, or make an infused oil and rub it directly on the scalp to help stimulate hair follicle growth and increase circulation to the area.
Other functions of rosemary include being an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, spasmolytic and a stimulant to the immune system and nervous system. Several of these functions make rosemary a great herb, both for internal and external use, for muscle pain, arthritis, sciatica and neuralgia.
Some non-medicinal uses of rosemary include placing sprigs in books to help deter moths and to burn the herb to help purify a room. Rosemary is one of Juliette de Bairacli Levy favorite herbs and she described how Gypsies would hang sprigs of rosemary in their vans for protection against evil and children would put it under their pillows to protect against nightmares.
Avoid therapeutic doses during pregnancy but it is ok to use it in food as a seasoning. The volatile oil, camphor, may cause convulsions so do not take therapeutic doses if you have epilepsy or have experience seizures. Extremely large doses of rosemary may be fatal. Enjoy a cup of rosemary tea by covering 1 tsp of rosemary in 1 cup of hot water once a day. If you are taking a tincture, Hoffman suggests 1-2 ml 3 times a day (1:5 in 40% alcohol). The German Commission E recommends a total of 4-6 grams per day.
Overall, rosemary is wonderful herb to use in the kitchen as well as in the medicine cabinet. It has many uses and is an ideal herb to assist in the treatment of elderly individuals because of its effect on circulation, memory and its ability to help with digestion.
Duke, J. A. (2000). The green pharmacy herbal handbook: your comprehensive reference to the best herbs for healing. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Reach.
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Holmes, P. (2007) The energetics of western herbs: a materia medica integrating Western and Chinese herbal therapeutics (Rev. &enl. 4th ed.). Cotati, CA: Snow Lotus Perss.
Levy, J. d. ( 1997). Common herbs for natural health (Rev, expanded ed.) Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Pub.
Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide for natural medicine. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications.