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Rosemary Oil Uses and Benefits


Rosemary oil - Dr. Axe
Rosemary is much more than an aromatic herb that tastes great on potatoes and roasted lamb. It’s actually one of the most powerful herbs and essential oils on the planet!

Having an antioxidant ORAC value of 11,070, rosemary has the same incredible free radical fighting power as goji berries. (1) This wooded evergreen native to the Mediterranean has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to improve memory, soothe digestive problems, boost the immune system and relieve aches and pains.

As I’m about to share, rosemary essential oil benefits and uses just seem to keep increasing according to scientific studies, with some of the most recent ones even pointing towards rosemary’s ability to have amazing anti-cancer effects on several different types of cancer!

What Is Rosemary Essential Oil?

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a small evergreen plant that belongs to the mint family, which also includes the herbs lavender, basil, myrtle and sage. Its leaves are commonly used fresh or dried to flavor various dishes.

Rosemary essential oil is extracted from the leaves and flowering tops of the plant. With a woody, evergreen-like scent, rosemary oil is typically described as invigorating and purifying.

Most of rosemary’s beneficial health effects haven been attributed to the high antioxidant activity of its main chemical constituents, including carnosol, carnosic acid, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid. (2)

Considered sacred by ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Hebrews, rosemary has a lengthy history of use for centuries. In terms of the some of the more interesting uses of rosemary throughout time, it’s said that it was used as a wedding love charm when it was worn by brides and grooms in the middle ages. Around the world in places like Australia and Europe, rosemary is also viewed as a sign of honor and remembrance when used at funerals. (3)

Top 5 Rosemary Oil Benefits

Research has uncovered that rosemary essential oil is highly effective when it comes to many major yet common health concerns facing us today. Here are just some of the top ways that you may find rosemary essential oil to be helpful.

1. Discourages Hair Loss and Boosts Growth

Androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness, is a common form of hair loss which is believed to be related to a person’s genetics and sex hormones. (4, 5) A byproduct of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is known to attack hair follicles leading to permanent hair loss, which is a problem for both sexes but especially for men who produce more testosterone than women.

A randomized comparative trial published in 2015 looked at the effectiveness of rosemary oil on hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia (AGA) compared to a common conventional form of treatment (minoxidil 2%). For six months, 50 subjects with AGA used rosemary oil while another 50 used minoxidil. After three months, neither group saw any improvement, but after six months, both groups saw equally significant increases in hair count. So the natural rosemary oil performed as well hair loss remedy as the conventional form of treatment and also caused less scalp itching compared to the minoxidil as a side effect. (6)

Animal research also demonstrates rosemary’s ability to inhibit DHT in subjects with hair regrowth disrupted by testosterone treatment. (7)

To experience how rosemary oil for hair growth, try using my homemade DIY Rosemary Mint Shampoo recipe.

Related: Rosemary, Cedarwood and Sage Hair Thickener

2. Improves Memory

There’s a meaningful quote in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” that points towards one of its most impressive benefits: “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.” (8) Worn by Greek scholars to enhance their memory when taking exams, the mental strengthening ability of rosemary has been known for thousands of years.

The International Journal of Neuroscience published a study highlighting this phenomenon in 2017. Upon evaluating how the cognitive performance of 144 participants was affected by lavender oil and rosemary oil aromatherapy, University of Northumbria, Newcastle researchers discovered that: (9)

  • “Rosemary produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors.”
  • Probably due to its significant calming effect, “lavender produced a significant decrement in performance of working memory, and impaired reaction times for both memory and attention-based tasks.”
  • Rosemary helped people become more alert.
  • Lavender and rosemary helped produced a feeling of “contentment” in the volunteers.

Affecting much more than memory, studies have also known that rosemary essential oil may help treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Published in Psychogeriatrics, the effects of aromatherapy were tested on 28 elderly people with dementia (17 of whom had Alzheimer’s).

After inhaling the vapor of rosemary oil and lemon oil in the morning, and lavender and orange oils in the evening, various functional assessments were conducted and all patients displayed significant improvement in personal orientation in relation to cognitive function with no unwanted side effects. Overall, the researchers concluded that “aromatherapy may have some potential for improving cognitive function, especially in AD patients.” (10)

3. Liver Boosting

Traditionally used for its ability to help with gastrointestinal complaints, rosemary is also a fantastic liver cleanser and booster. It’s an herb known for its choleretic and hepatoprotective effects. In case you’re not impressed, let me define these two qualities. First, being described as “choleretic” means that rosemary is a substance that increases the amount of bile secreted by the liver. Hepatoprotective means the ability of something to prevent damage to the liver. (11)

Animal research reveals that rosemary (and olive) leaf extracts provide liver protective benefits to animal subjects with chemically-induced liver cirrhosis. Specifically, the rosemary extract was able to inhibit the unwanted functional and tissue changes to the liver that result from cirrhosis. (12)

4. Lowers Cortisol

A study was conducted out of Meikai University, School of Dentistry in Japan that evaluated how five minutes of lavender and rosemary aromatherapy affected the salivary cortisol levels (the “stress” hormone) of 22 healthy volunteers.

Upon observing that both essential oils enhance free radical scavenging activity, they also discovered that both greatly reduced cortisol levels, which protects the body from chronic disease due to oxidative stress. (13)

5. Cancer Fighting

In addition to being a rich antioxidant, rosemary is also known for its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. One of rosemary’s main active components is carnosol. According to a recent article published in the journal Cancer Letters, “Carnosol has been evaluated for anti-cancer property in prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancer with promising results.” In addition, carnosol appears to have “a selective toxicity towards cancer cells versus non-tumorigenic cells and is well tolerated when administered to animals.”(14)

In other words, carnosol acts like a military sniper who only takes out his enemy target and doesn’t damage neighboring cells, unlike the chemotherapy nuclear-bomb approach that kills everything along its path.

An article published in the journal Nutrients in 2016 notes that rosemary extract has been shown to exhibit anti-cancer properties in vitro for the following cancers: (15)

  • Colon cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer

Best Rosemary Oil Uses

As you can see from the research, rosemary essential oil is can be used in a variety of ways. When it comes to implementing rosemary oil uses into your natural health regimen, I personally recommend the following do-it-yourself recipes:

Improve Memory: Mix 3 drops of rosemary oil with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil and rub on upper neck or diffuse for 1 hour a day.

Study better: Are you or your child trying to memorize information for an upcoming test? Diffuse rosemary oil while studying to boost cognitive function and memory.

Hair Thickener: Try my Olive Oil Hair Treatment with Rosemary and Lavender, or you can also use my homemade rosemary mint shampoo recipe, which is another great way to incorporate rosemary into your routine for a scalp and hair boost.

Boost Prostate Health: Mix 2 drops of rosemary oil with 1/2 teaspoon of carrier oil and rub beneath testicles.

Reduce Pain: Mix 2 drops of rosemary oil, 2 drops of peppermint oil and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and rub on sore muscles and painful joints to increase circulation and decrease inflammation.

Improve Gallbladder FunctionMix 3 drops of rosemary oil with 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil and rub over gallbladder area twice daily.

Help Neuropathy and Neuralgia: Take 2 drops of rosemary oil, 2 drops of helichrysum oil, 2 drops of cypress oil and 1/2 teaspoon of a carrier oil and rub on area of neuropathy.

Where can you buy rosemary oil?

You can easily find rosemary oil in health stores or online. It’s vital to know that not all essential oils are created equally. In fact, most of them are worthless to your health and often synthetic. When buying essential oils like rosemary, always make sure they are 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and organic.

Rosemary essential oil blends well with lavender, frankincense, cardamom, clary sage, cedarwood, lemongrass, geranium, chamomile and peppermint oils.

Precautions Regarding Potential Rosemary Oil Side Effects and Interactions

Always dilute rosemary oil with a carrier oil to avoid skin sensitivity. When using rosemary oil topically, avoid eyes, mucous membranes and any areas of sensitive skin.

Keep essential oils out of the reach of children and pets. Rosemary essential oil should not be used topically or diffused around children under the age of six.

Taking rosemary essential oil internally may interact with anticoagulant (blood thinning) drugs, ACE, diuretics and lithium. (16)

Talk to your doctor before using rosemary essential oil, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication or if you have a medical condition.

Final Thoughts

  • Rosemary oil is extracted from the rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) plant, which is the same plant that gives us the culinary herb.
  • When buying rosemary essential oil, always looking for one that is 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and organic.
  • Scientific research demonstrates rosemary oil’s ability to help with many common and chronic health concerns, including hair loss, liver function, elevated cortisol levels, stress, cognitive function and memory problems like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Studies are pointing towards rosemary’s ability to help fight many different types of cancer, including colon, pancreatic, breast, prostate, ovarian, cervical, bladder, liver and lung cancers.