With politicians telling us that austerity measures are far from over in Britain, it’s heartwarming to see that the Great British spirit of resilience is as strong as ever with more and more people cooking with ingredients from their gardens in an effort to save a few pounds. One very handy garden shrub for cooking and home remedies (especially in the winter), is rosemary.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has been used for centuries as a healing herb and in cooking. In fact, traces of rosemary have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and rosemary twigs were also burned in European sick rooms, a practice that continued well into modern times in French hospital wards. Ladies, you’re going to love this one: There’s even an old saying “”Where Rosemary flourished, the women ruled.”
Apart from being used to flavour soups, sauces and meats, numerous studies have found that our ancestors were onto something when it came to using rosemary medicinally.
Here are some of the health benefits of rosemary that make it worth using on a regular basis:
Immune Booster: Thanks to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties this herbs numerous healing properties make it perfect for protecting your health during the winter months.
Anti-Inflammatory: It contains two potent anti- inflammatory compounds, carnosic acid and carnosol. One study found that these two compounds inhibited COX-2, an enzyme that causes pain and inflammation in the body. They also inhibited the production of excess nitric oxide, which also causes inflammation.
Antibacterial: Studies have found this herb has powerful antibacterial properties and is particularly effective against H. pylori, which causes stomach ulcers, and Staph infections. This probably explains why in some hospitals, in the past, they used it as a disinfectant to clean hospital wards.
Here’s how to make a natural cleaning solution with rosemary: boil a handful of rosemary leaves in half a litre of water for ten minutes and use the solution to clean the bathroom. Fresh sprigs of rosemary in a vase can be used as natural air fresheners.
Migraine Help: It has been a popular natural migraine remedy for centuries. Boil some rosemary in a large pot of water and pour it into a bowl. Place a towel over your head and lean over the pot to inhale the steam for about 10 minutes.
Improved Memory: Rosemary has long been believed to have memory-enhancing properties. In 1529, a herbal book recommended taking rosemary for “weakness of the brain.” More recently, research has found that it contains a diterpine (carnosic acid) that has neuro-protective properties, which researchers believe may protect against age-related memory loss and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Remarkably, even the smell of this herb has been found to improve memory. In one study, test subjects in cubicles were given essential oil of rosemary to smell… they were found to have better quality of memory and better overall memory than the control group.
Mood Elevator: The same study that found that smelling rosemary improved test subjects’ quality of memory, also found that their mood was significantly improved compared to the control group.
Cancer Prevention: As I mentioned earlier, rosemary contains the potent anti-inflammatory substance carnosol, which has been found in studies to be a potent anti-cancer compound.
Researchers have seen promising results in studies of its efficacy against breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, leukaemia and skin cancer. In one study, researchers gave powdered rosemary to rats for two weeks and found that it reduced the binding of the carcinogen given to the rats by 76 per cent and significantly inhibited the formation of breast tumours.
For the most part, rosemary is considered safe with no side effects. However, pregnant women should avoid consuming large amounts of rosemary because it may lead to uterine contractions and miscarriage. People with hypertension should not take rosemary because it may raise blood pressure.
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Spices, rosemary, dried – Value per 100g. USDA
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