Rosemary is a sweet scented evergreen shrub with small pale blue flowers that grows in little clusters up the stems. The herb grows up to 2 meters high. Its leaves are narrow and resemble curved pine needles. They are green on top and grey underneath. Dried leaves of rosemary are used for commercial purposes. Dried herb is brownish green in color. The leaves have a tea like fragrance. Crushed rosemary, however, has spicy camphoraceous aroma and a pungent, bitter taste.
Rosemary has long been regarded as the herb for remembrance. It strengthens the heart as well as memory. Dried rosemary leaves, on fractional distillation, yield 1 to 2 percent of volatile oil which is used in perfumery and medicine. They also contain several acids and other chemical substances. A fraction of phenolic possessing anti-oxidant properties has been isolated from leaves and its oil.
Botanical Name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Indian Name: Rusmary
Below are some of the medicinal properties of rosemary:
- Rosemary has been found useful in atonic dyspepsia, that is, indigestion and stiffness in the stomach. It is especially valuable in the digestion of starchy foods and vegetables like egg-plant and lima beans besides rich meats like pork, beef and lamb.
- It is an antidote to mental fatigue and forgetfulness. A tea made from the herb is a good natural remedy for bringing added mental agility. It is believed that if the crushed leaves of rosemary are inhaled with the eyes closed, the mind becomes clear as the vapor courses through the brain cells.
- Its oil induces copious perspiration. It can be beneficially mixed in hot water and taken as a drink in colds and chills. The oil is obtained by fractional distillation of the leaves, flowering tops and twigs of the plant. This emulsion is prepared by mixing oil in hot water. The emulsion is used as a gargle for sore throat. The oil exhibits antibacterial activity.
- Rosemary oil is used as an ingredient in rubefacient liniments. Rosemary is formally recognized as a drug in some of the pharmacopoeias. It is mildly irritant and is used to relieve flatulence.
- A few drops of rosemary oil are taken internally as a heart stimulant. A five percent tincture prepared by mixing oil of rosemary in alcohol is used as a circulatory and cardiac stimulant.
- Shampoos and hair lotions containing the pure extract of rosemary rejuvenate the scalp and hair while preventing dandruff and premature baldness. A lotion from leafy rosemary branches can be prepared by simmering them in water for 30 minutes before straining and cooling. It can be used as the final hair rinse.
- The flowering tops and leaves of rosemary have camphor like odor, which induce copious perspiration. They are used for vapor baths in rheumatism.
Fresh tender tops of rosemary are used for garnishing and flavoring pickles, cold drinks, soups and other foods. Its leaves are used as a condiment. Dried and powdered, they are added to cooked meats, fish, poultry, sauces, soups, stews, garnishing, preserves and jams.