scientific name: Rosemarinus officinalis other common names: Romero, compass plant,
old man growing areas: Native to southern Europe; grows in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America
physical description: Rosemary is a perennial evergreen shrub that is very aromatic and grows from 3 to 7 feet in height. It has narrow green leaves resembling pine needles.
traditional uses: A useful cooking herb, rosemary is long on legend and lore. It/was considered to enhance memory in ancient times, lo much so that students are said to have burned it at home before exams or worn it in garlands. It was used to preserve meats in the days before refrigeration, and it became a symbol of remembrance during funerals. In Hamlet, Ophelia remarks to the king, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember." In European folklore it was believed to stave off bad dreams and was a symbol of love. Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth of Hungary in the thirteenth century was cured of the pain of rheumatism after her limbs were bathed in a wine decoction containing rosemary.
Medicinally, rosemary has been used as an astringent, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic, as well as an abortifacient, emmenagogue, and tonic. In parts of Central America rosemary has been used for nervous disorders, to cleanse wounds and skin ulcers, to relieve headaches, and for washing hair. A poll of Mexicans found rosemary to be among the top herbs they listed as being used medicinally, largely for menstrual and digestive problems.
availability and dosage: Rosemary is found in herb form in supermarkets and other food stores. It is also available as a tea or essential oil. Some herbalists recommend that the essential oil be used externally or in a diffuser to permeate the atmosphere. Herbalists recommend that a tea can be made from up to 4 grams of leaf and taken as often as three times a day. contraindications: Rosemary should not be taken in medicinal quantities by pregnant or breast-feeding women.
special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes.
While the undiluted essential oil has a history of being taken internally, a number of experts believe it should not be consumed because it can lead to stomach or other gastrointestinal problems. German experts, however, have approved rosemary for internal use for indigestion and rheumatism.
medical research: Essential oil of rosemary was noted by European researchers as being among a group of powerful convulsants.