Rosemary, a Popular Culinary & Medicinal Herb
Rosemary is one of our oldest herbs used for medicinal and culinary uses…
Rosemary or Rosmarinus officinalis, most commonly used today as a culinary herb, gets it’s name from where it is commonly found growing; near the sea. Rosemary comes from two Latin words ‘ros‘ meaning ‘dew‘ and marinus meaning ‘sea’, so one of the common names is ‘dew of the sea’.
Other common names include ‘Old Man‘, ‘Sea Dew‘, ‘Ros Maris‘, ‘Rosmarine‘, ‘Romero‘, ‘Incensier‘. Native to Countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, particularly Portugal and Spain, it is believed that the Roman Armies introduced it to Britain.
There are many varieties, some which are upright and others prostrate. Flowers are small, can be blue, pink or white, full of nectar and a favourite with bees. The Rosemary plant itself is a perennial shrub, that is compact and hardy. It is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae or Labiatae. It likes full sun with a well drained soil, which is not surprising considering it’s native habitat.
Leaves are dark green, glossy on the top with grey underneath.
Rosemary has a pungent and aromatic smell, and its taste is bitter almost menthol like, clearing to the nose and head, due to the high content of volatile oils. You can best observe these qualities by chewing on a leaf.
The energetics are warming, dry, pungent and bitter.
Properties of Rosemary include:
Astringent, anti-inflammatory, nervine, carminative, diuretic, tonic, stomachic, diaphoretic, expectorant, decongestant, antibacterial, antifungal, sedative.
Traditionally used to flavour lamb, it can be used with a variety of meats, as well vegetarian recipes. It goes well with garlic, potato, tomato, cabbage, lentils, egg plant to name a few compatible vegetables. It really blends well with many Mediterranean style dishes, and is even used to flavour some sweet and fish dishes.
Of course Rosemary makes a refreshing and healthful tea, adds flavour to a marinade, can be added to bread and scones, can also be added olive oils and butters. The flavour is strong and distinct and should be used carefully so as to augment the flavours rather than over power which can easily happen if over used.
Of course these relate to the properties mentioned earlier and there are many traditional uses for Rosemary. Said to improve circulation to the brain, and so improving memory and clarity of thought, it is also said to assist with the breaking down of acetylcholine in the brain, and thus can be helpful in prevention or improving symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Rosemary can aid digestion, relieving flatulence and heartburn. It also is said to assist with the prevention of both gall and kidney stones. The benefits are to all parts of the body due to the improvements to circulation. Our bodies rely on good circulation for maintaining and restoring health which is why the benefits are so far reaching.
It is also said to be very useful for those losing hair, and is said to prevent baldness and dandruff. Recent studies indicate that Rosemary has properties which can stimulate and expand skin tissue.
Other suggested benefits include treating anxiety and depression, improves eyesight, stimulates appetite, relieves palpitations, calms nerves, relaxes muscles, relieves pain and headaches, clears toxins, enhances liver function, for strokes and loss of speech, treats sore throats, improves gum health, clears phlegm, gets rid of coughs, relieves bronchial spasm, improves both high and low blood pressure, assists asthmatics, relieves arthritis and gout and many more.
In addition to the many internal benefits, Rosemary also has benefits used externally. It can be used in the treatment of head lice, and used in a liniment to rub into sore muscles and joints. The essential oil can also be used as an inhalant to assist with improved mental function to name a few.
Often called a ‘cure all’ herb, it’s many medicinal uses are overlooked by most people and it would be an excellent and healthy addition to their daily lives.
Aside from the obvious health benefits, you can also use Rosemary in the garden, where it will discourage pests from nearby plants and is particularly good around fruit trees.
As you can see, Rosemary has many uses and benefits for virtually anyone seeking to improve their health and well-being. If you have any space for Growing Herbs at all that is suitable, then you should be growing it. If you can’t grow it, then it is easily purchased as a dried herb. Rosemary is certainly one herb that needs to be planted and utilized so much more than it currently is, it is far more useful than just as an occasional addition to a food dish.