Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has been used for centuries in healing and in cooking, and in religious rituals. This popular herb has a wide range of uses as a herbal home remedy and also in natural beauty products.
Facts and Legends about Rosemary
Traces of rosemary have been found in tombs that date back to ancient Egypt, and in ancient Greece, rosemary sprigs were burned on shrines as natural incense. In medieval Europe, the burning of rosemary was believed to smoke out the devil, and rosemary twigs were also burned in European sick rooms, a practice that continued to almost the modern day in French hospital wards. Legend says that during the Black Death in Europe, those who carried small pouches of rosemary around their necks and sniffed the pouch when traveling through disease-ridden areas did not get sick.
Legend also says that as the Virgin Mary and the holy family were fleeing to Egypt, they stopped for the night and rested in a rosemary bush; the rosemary flowers that used to be white turned blue when Mary hung her blue cloak on the bush.
Household Uses for Rosemary
Make a natural cleaning solution with rosemary: boil a handful of rosemary leaves in half a liter of water for ten minutes and use the solution to clean the bathroom. Fresh sprigs of rosemary in a vase can be used as natural air fresheners.
Using Rosemary in Cooking
When added to food, rosemary helps the digestion of greasy foods. This herb is popular in meat dishes and tastes delicious with roasted potatoes. Fresh leaves have a stronger flavor than dried ones. When using dried leaves, crush them before use to get the flavor out. Freshly picked flowers from the rosemary bush can be used to decorate salads and rosemary twigs are often used in barbeques to give flavor to food.
Rosemary Herbal Home Remedies
Add fresh rosemary leaves into a bath (for less messy results, put them in a muslin bag first!) to improve circulation and to relieve aches and pains.
Rosemary essential oil is one of the most versatile oils in aromatherapy. It is a stimulant and tonic oil, popular in massage blends for achy muscles. Rosemary oil can stimulate circulation, relieve pain and it is a very effective oil for steam inhalations during colds and in sinusitis: this oil really clears the head. Rosemary should not be used during pregnancy, by anyone suffering from epilepsy or by anyone suffering from high blood pressure.
Rosemary in Natural Beauty
Use rosemary in a refreshing facial sauna (or steam inhalation) in home beauty treatments. Rosemary is used in natural hair care for greasy hair and for dark hair. Add a few drops of rosemary essential oil into cold-pressed vegetable oil (such as jojoba) for a homemade hair treatment: massage the oil into your hair and scalp, wrap a bath towel around your hair, and leave on for 20 to 30 minutes before washing your hair. Another way to use rosemary is to add it to the final rinsing water when washing your hair.
Lesley Bremness: The Complete Book of Herbs (Studio, 1994)
Patricia Davis: Aromatherapy, an A-Z (Random House, UK, 2004)
Photo: Rosmarinus officinalis by H. Zell (photo from Wikimedia Commons)