Rosemary originates from the dry, rocky regions of the Mediterranean along the coast. It's genus name, Rosmarinus, derives from the Latin words "ros" and "marinus" which together translate to “dew of the sea.”
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a fragrant evergreen plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean and Asia but can be grown in many climates and areas such as England, the United States, Mexico, Tunisia and Morocco. Rosemary plants are reasonably hardy and can withstand frost and cool climates but thrive best in dry, temperate climates. Rosemary grows as a shrub that is relatively slow-growing but can reach around four to six feet in size and live as long as thirty years. The leaves of the Rosemary plant are small, thin, and flat with a dark green top and paler underside. The leaves have a slightly fuzzy appearance due to being covered with dense, short hairs. Rosemary flowers are small and tubular and can vary in color from white, pink, purple, or blue.
Rosemary was used for numerous purposes by ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Hebrews, and Romans, and it was considered to be a sacred herb in many of those cultures. In ancient Greece, Rosemary garlands were worn around the head while studying as it was believed to improve memory and cognition. Both the Greeks and the Romans used Rosemary in many festivals and religious ceremonies to serve as a reminder of life and death. Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek botanist, talked about Rosemary in his most famous writing, De Materia Medica, one of the most important herbal books in history.
For thousands of years, Rosemary has been used in the folk medicine of different cultures for its ability to improve memory, relieve digestive issues, and ease muscle pain. Throughout the Mediterranean, Rosemary leaves, as well as Rosemary essential oil have been used for a variety of culinary purposes. Even before the discovery and understanding of germs, Rosemary was also used in incense and massage balms in the 16th century in the rooms of those suffering from illness to eliminate harmful bacteria. In the Middle Ages, Rosemary branches were commonly strewn across floors and left in doorways to keep the bubonic plague at bay. It was believed that it warded off the evil spirits and helped to prevent the onset of the disease. Grave robbers used Rosemary in “Four Thieves Vinegar,” a concoction that was infused with various herbs and spices that they used to protect themselves against the plague. German-Swiss physician, philosopher, and botanist Paracelsus widely promoted the healing properties of Rosemary. He believed in the herb's ability to strengthen the body and to heal organs such as the brain, heart, and liver and it became one of his favorite alternative herbal medicines.
Cultivation and Extraction
Rosemary that is cultivated for essential oil production is harvested once or twice a year, depending on the geographical region in which it is being grown. Harvesting is most often done mechanically and the plant material is dried before distillation. This drying can be done naturally by the sun or by using forced air-flow driers, resulting in better quality leaves for oil extraction. After the plant material is dried it is further processed to have the stems removed and then sieved to remove any dirt or debris. Rosemary essential oil is extracted through the steam distillation of the plant's leaves and flowering tops. Much of the Rosemary grown in North Africa, grows wild and is harvested by hand and distilled in the field. The resulting essential oil has a thin viscosity and can range from clear to pale yellow. The oil has a fresh herbaceous aroma with a woodsy and balsamic undertone.
Uses and Benefits
Used in aromatherapy, Rosemary essential oil can provide a wide variety of mental and physical benefits. Rosemary works to reduce stress levels and ease nervous tension to help alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation. Research shows that inhaling the aroma of Rosemary essential oil can lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the blood. It can also help to relieve fatigue and uplift negative moods that may be associated with anxiety. Rosemary essential oil can also boost mental activity and cognition while increasing alertness and mental clarity. Rosemary oil is well known for its ability to improve memory. It works to increase the retention of information by enhancing concentration and insight. Rosemary essential oil has expectorant properties when inhaled, helping to eliminate congestion from colds, the flu, or seasonal allergies. Antiseptic properties in Rosemary also allow it to fight respiratory infections while it supports overall respiratory function. Inhaling Rosemary essential oil can help to boost the immune system by stimulating internal antioxidant activity. It can be used to help relieve gastrointestinal upsets, such as stomach cramping, indigestion, gas, and bloating.
When used topically, Rosemary essential oil’s detoxifying and anesthetic properties can work to support immunity by boosting the body’s natural detoxification system. When massaged into the skin, Rosemary stimulates circulation and reduces inflammation, helping it to relieve muscle aches and pains. One of Rosemary essential oil's most well-known topical uses is to support hair health. It works to stimulate hair follicles to strengthen the hair while also boosting hair growth. Rosemary also helps to moisturize and soothe the scalp to eliminate dry skin and dandruff. It also has antimicrobial, antiseptic, and astringent properties that make it a beneficial ingredient in skincare products. Rosemary can moisturize dry skin while soothing inflammation and combating acne. It can help to rejuvenate the complexion for glowing, hydrated skin that is free of unwanted marks and blemishes. Rosemary essential oil contains antiviral, anti-microbial, and antiseptic properties that make it useful in natural home cleaning products. It can be used to help eliminate harmful bacteria and germs from surfaces in our homes.
Here are some recipes using Rosemary essential oil that we love...
Respiratory Wellness Diffuser BlendIngredients
- 4 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil
- 3 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- 3 drops of Bergamot Essential Oil
Add water to your diffuser up to the fill line. Add drops of the essential oil blend. This diffuser blend recipe is formulated for a 200ml ultrasonic diffuser. Adjust amount according to size and directions of your diffuser.
Enhanced Memory Aromatherapy Spray
- 4oz Amber Glass Bottle with Spray Top
- 2 ounces Witch Hazel Extract
- 2 ounces Distilled Water
- 20 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
- 20 drops Lemon Essential Oil
- 10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
- 10 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
Add essential oils and witch hazel to your 4oz glass bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle up with distilled water. Attach the spray top and shake until all the ingredients are well combined. Store in a dark, cool location out of reach from children and pets. Shake well before each use.
Strengthen and Grow Hair Oil
- 2 ounce Amber Bottle with Dropper
- 1 ounce Sweet Almond Oil
- 1 ounce Jojoba Oil
- 10 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
- 10 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
- 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
Add all the ingredients to a 2oz bottle and give it a good shake to combine. Massage a few drops into the scalp to help stimulate hair growth and nourish hair and scalp. Store in a dark, cool location out of reach from children and pets. Shake well before each use.
Cleansing Herbal Massage Oil
- 4 ounce Amber Glass Bottle
- 2 ounces of Fractionated Coconut Oil
- 2 ounces of Jojoba Oil
- 20 drops of Organic Rosemary Essential Oil
- 13 drops of Organic Lavender Essential Oil
- 10 Sweet of Organic Sweet Orange Essential Oil
- 5 drops of Organic Oregano Essential oil
Add essential oils to a 4oz bottle. Add fractionated coconut oil and jojoba oil, leaving a little space at the top. Apply cap and gently shake to combine the ingredients. Add a few drops to your hands and massage the oil into the skin. Store in a dark, cool location out of reach from children and pets. Shake well before each use.
Stomach Soother Roll-On
- 10ml Amber Glass Roll-On Bottle
- ⅓ ounce Sweet Almond oil
- 6 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
- 4 drops Ginger Essential Oil
Add the essential oils to the roller bottle and fill the rest of the bottle up to the neck with sweet almond oil. Attach the roller top and shake well until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Roll on the abdomen and gently massage into the skin. Store in a dark, cool location out of reach from children and pets. Shake well before each use.