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Nine ways rosemary can benefit your health

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Rosemary has health benefits shown in studies.

If you like to cook with rosemary, consider growing the herb in your garden this year, in a pot or in a sunny window so you can have a fresh supply at all times. Aside from the wonderful taste, rosemary has a variety of health benefit shown in studies, some of which may be a surprise.

Nontoxic home disinfectant

Bacteria in the home can be a health concern and there are ways to keep your home infection free with nontoxic natural remedies. Keeping you and your family safe from gastrointestinal and respiratory infections is a priority especially during cold and flu season.

The herb rosemary is popular for cooking, but you can also make a disinfectant spray to use on any surface in the home. The good news is it’s easy, takes little time and can leave your home with a scent that also has therapeutic properties from the aroma.

Researchers have studied the antibacterial properties of rosemary, finding it can kill Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, both common bacteria that can cause infection.

Other studies show the herb inhibits the growth of bacteria on food including Listeria monocytogenes, B. cereus, and S. aureus.

To make a spray, just simmer rosemary stems for 30 minutes. After they are cooled, strain and pour the solution into a spray bottle. You can keep the disinfectant fresh up to a week in the refrigerator. Make small batches to keep the germicidal properties fresh.

Acne treatment

A 2007 report in the journal Planta Medica found rosemary is effective against bacteria that cause acne - Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes).

Oil of rosemary was found to attach to the surface of P. acnes in low concentrations. Higher concentrations of the oil caused complete destruction of acne causing bacteria after 8 hours of exposure in laboratory experiments.

Boost brain power and mood

A 2012 study found the aroma of rosemary can boost brain power and produce a sense of calm. The finding that was published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology found the scent of the herb can enter the bloodstream through mucous membranes in the nose and mouth, leading to its ability to cross the blood brain barrier.

The reason the herb can boost cognitive performance is from terpenes in the plant that inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain.

Eye Health

Rosemary might also help prevent degenerative eye disease that can affect various parts of the eye. Common degenerative eye diseases include age related macular degeneration and retinitis Pigmentosa that can lead to blindness.

Stuart A. Lipton MD PhD and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute conducted lab studies showing a substance in rosemary known as carnosic acid stopped oxidative stress to cells in the eye in experiments conducted in Petri dishes. The study was published in 2012.

Protection from health consequences of high fat diet

Adding herbs and spices like rosemary, turmeric, cinnamon and other seasonings could help lower the health consequences that come from eating a sometimes irresistible high fat meal.

Researchers found adding spices to your meal boosts insulin response to regular blood sugar levels and increases antioxidant activity that can help protect from a variety of diseases.

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Increased immunity

Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends cooking with rosemary to give your immune system a boost. Adding rosemary to oven baked potatoes, chicken, turkey, soups and casseroles, especially during cold and flu season, might shorten the duration of a cold and even help prevent respiratory infections.

The herb contains a substance known as rosmarinic acid that can help block allergies.


Meat consumption, and especially grilling, is linked to cancer from by-products of cooking that are carcinogenic.

Adding rosemary to grilled meats can help lower the carcinogenic effects that accompany our favorite ways to cook foods.


Dr. Oz also shares a rosemary tea recipe that can help reduce bloating. Steep 1 tablespoon of dried herb in 3 cups of boiling water, then strain, cool and enjoy. If you want to add sweetener, he recommends agave.

The herb is one of his top recommendations for women over age 40.

Might alleviate pain

The herb can also be used as a rub or liniment to reduce muscle pain associated with arthritis and minor injuries.

According to University of Maryland Medical Center, application of rosemary oil is approved by the It is approved by the German Commission E for treatment of muscle pain, though studies are lacking that it works.


Ingesting too much rosemary can lead to vomiting and stomach upset. The herb can also help treat indigestion, used in proper doses. Recommendations are for no more than 4 to 6 grams a day. Rosemary oil should never be taken orally. Supplements should not be taken by pregnant women, but cooking with the herb is considered safe.

Ulcers, Crohn’s disease, colitis, diabetes medication use and high blood pressure are all contraindications for using rosemary for health benefits.

Rosemary could interfere with some blood pressure medications and can have a blood thinning effect, making it important to speak with your doctor if you are taking any medications. The herb can also potentiate the effect of fluid pills known as diuretics.

The herb rosemary has many health benefits and can be a healthy addition to the kitchen, placed strategically for aromatherapy, added to foods or used in the home as a disinfectant. The fragrant herb may also have an emerging role for helping fight food borne pathogens.

"Investigation of antibacterial activity of rosemary essential oil against Propionibacterium acnes with atomic force microscopy"

"Antimicrobial activity of rosemary extracts (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) against different species of Listeria"

Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology
“Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma”
Mark Moss
February 24, 2012

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