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Rosemary, not just for chicken

Rosemary is native to Mediterranean regions, but can be grown in pots just about anywhere...including my deck.
Photo by Lori Osterloh-Hagaman

Those close to me are aware of my love of everything herbal. I love that the plants put forth upon this earth are here and can enhance our lives through sight, smell, taste and those seemingly hidden chemical constituents that can spur our own healing and health creating mechanisms. I have stated before on here, and I am reiterating it, I am on a mission to create a self-sustaining urban-esque homestead in our backyard. Growing my own rosemary is a crucial part of my endeavor.

After searching through many nurseries, only to find high priced shrub-sized rosemary bushes, I lucked out and strolled upon a small rosemary plant in the produce department of a local Wal-Mart. Sometimes, you have to pay attention. When the intention is placed out there in the cosmos, the answers roll out of some of the most unexpected places.

I took my small rosemary home with little to no expectations of it’s survival. It was root-bound in its small cube of a pot and was starting to lose leaves. I repotted it in a larger one I had in the garage and took the time to gently separate the tangled roots before covering them with a nice batch of new soil. To my surprise the plant has thrived and is now offering nice bright leaves for our household’s cooking and remedy needs.

DESCRIPTION
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a fragrant plant displaying needle-like leaves and flowers in hues of pink, purple or blue. It is one of many members of the mint family. Some older herbal texts refer to the plant as anthos.

Most modern people are acquainted with rosemary in the kitchen. Combined with lemon, it gives chicken a wonderful zest. It is great in stuffing and can add wow-factor to lamb. Traditionally it was used to treat dyspepsia, flatulence and to stimulate appetite as it increases gastric secretions. This could be one reason why it has become such a standby culinary herb.

LORE
It is said that Aphrodiye wore a wreath of this flower upon her descent from the ocean (her birth) which has been famously depicted by Bonticelli’s image of a woman with enormous amounts of hair surfing on a half-shell. Other lore includes the tale that the Virgin Mary spread cloak over a white flowering rosemary, and the blossoms subsequently turned blue. This lead to the plant being Rose of Mary for quite some time and has been contorted to plain old rosemary now.

In the thirteenth century, Queen Elisabeth of Hungary who suffered from crippling gout and rheumatism claimed at 72 years old that drinking rosemary water helped her regain her beauty and strength. She even received a marriage proposal from the King of Poland - who was 26!

The rosemary herb was burned in sick chambers to purify air, and during the Plague of 1665, it was carried and sniffed to protect against contamination.

NATIVE LOCATION
The plant is native to Mediteranean regions but is now cultivated all over the world. It is susceptible to frost and should be brought in through harsh winters in colder climates. This makes it a great “pot-herb” for the kitchen.

USES TRAITIONAL & PROOVEN
Rosemary has long been a symbol of remembrance. It’s essential oil has been proven to aid in the memory-recall processes. It’s slightly menthol-like smell is due to it’s camphor content. It also contains ursolic aicid, betulinic acid, rosmaridiphenol and rosmanol. It contains many antioxidants as well. Lhe scent seems to “wake” a person up. Applying the essential oil to the temples may be just the trick. Take care to avoid the sensitive skin around the eyes. Also be sure to patch test the straight oil to be sure of whether or not a carrier oil is needed to avoid contact dermatitis type of symptoms.

Rosemary has long been used in herbal medicine as a remedy to spur hair growth. There is now research suggesting that rosemary is responsible for the regrowth of hair in mice. (Murata, K; Noguchi, K; Kondo, M; Onishi, M; Watanabe, N; Okamura, K; Matsuda, H (2013). "Promotion of hair growth by Rosmarinus officinalis leaf extract". Phytotherapy Research 27 (2): 212–7. doi:10.1002/ptr.4712. PMID 2251759) It is an additivein many shampoos and has long been used as a remedy for dandruff and other scalp irritations. It perfectly safe to use on the scalp of infants the display, what is commonly referred to “cradle-cap,” ((infantile seborrheic dermatitis). I used a cooled tea of rosemary to rinse my son’s scalp when he displayed the classic scaly junk. Just adding a couple of drops of rosemary essential oil to your favorite shampoo in the morning can deliver these benefits to you.

It has been shown to help in the production of nerve regrowth factor. Nerve regrowth factor is defined as “…small secreted protein that is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain target neurons (nervecells). It also functions as a signaling molecule.” This could be one link to the cause of rosemary’s memory enhancing properties. (Kosaka, Kunio; Yokoi, Toshio (Nov 2003). "Carnosic Acid, a Component of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.), Promotes Synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor in T98G Human Glioblastoma Cells". Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 26 (11): 1620–1622. doi:10.1248/bpb.26.1620. PMID 14600414.)

Rosemary is a wonderful oil for improving breathing when congested. Many bath-time formulas fpr babies include rosemary to aid in opening stuffy noses. It is combined with peppermint in one popular essential oil blend called Breathe-Free* to possibly help relieve sinus pressure and labored breathing that accompanies the common cold, etc. Simply adding a good sized sprig of rosemary to hot, steamy water on your stove top can diffuse the scent of this air-purifier throughout your home.

The essential oil of rosemary is said to be a top note. In aromatherapy speak, this means it is a lighter fragrance and is extracted from leave (bass notes are often extracted from woody sources. Think of franckincense). It blends well with basil, bergamot, cedar, frankincense, ginger, lemon, orange and peppermint. Simply mixing two to three of these oils with rosemary in a distilled water base can result in a spritzer that will lift spirits and freshen the air in stuffy, close smelling rooms.

It has been used, historically, for pain of the head (headaches). It seems to have some effect on circulation (rubefacient) as some herbal sources list it as an herb to use to ensure circulation to the penis, which leads one to think it may be of benefit for those suffering ED. It is listed in many sources as an herb to go to when in need of rectifying below-par circulation. It can be added to a carrier oil or lotion and smoothed on topically. Take care to not apply to broken skin.

It’s antioxidant content has been credited in being the reason it is so readily used in skin care products. It is contained in many skin creams as it reduces puffiness and the “bloated” look of the skin if the face. Let’s not forget the use of rosemary in extreme cases of skin care. Over a decade ago scientists confirmed that the antioxidant components of rosemary called carnosol and ursollic acid were effective in preventing the deadly skin cancer melanoma. (The Sunscreen Paradox. Popular Misconceptions About Skin Cancer Prevention http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2006/jun2006_report_sunscreen_02.htm)

It is often used to relieve sore and stiff muscle pain. Some have even professed its use in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and extol its virtues as an analgesic. It’s pain relieving properties may be one reason why it is contained in one of my absolute favorite muscle rubs, Tei Fu lotion*. Try adding a few drops to an arnica lotion or salve and smooth into sore, aching muscles to relieve pain and lactic acid build up kinds of burning.

It also has some antifungal qualities. This may be one reason why some herbal remedies for athlete’s foot include soaking the feet in rosemary decoctions. It is touted as a remedy for candida because of it’s supposed ability to fend of “bad” micro-flora in the gut.
According to http://medicinalplants.us/rosemary-clinical-use-dosage the suggested doses of rosemary are:

-Infusion of dried leaf: 2-4 g three times daily.
• Fluid extract (45%): 1-4 mL three times daily.
• Topical preparations containing 6-10% essential oil can be applied directly to skin. Often a carrier oil, such as almond oil, is used as a vehicle for the essential oil.
• Bath additive: 10 drops essential oil added to bath.

COUNTERINDICATIONS
-do not use while pregnant or nursing. Webmd says that rosemary may induce uterine contractions and menses like bleeding, so it is best avoided.
-Webmd also says to avoid this herb is you are prone to siezures.
-Taking large amounts of rosemary can cause vomiting, uterine bleeding, kidney irritation, increased sun sensitivity, skin redness, and allergic reactions.
-Do not use if experiencing reduced kidney output due to kidney disease or protein in the urine
-Do not use if you have high blood pressure. Rosemary increases circulation and may irritate this condition.

INTERACTIONS
- there are currently no known interactions with medications

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