“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.”

― William Shakespeare


Rosmarinus officinalis, commonly known as Rosemary, is within the mint family and is seen in nature along the coast of the Mediterranean as well as in sub-Himalayan regions, though has been cultivated more broadly since times of ancient (Hassani, Shirani, & Hosseinzadeh, 2016; Al-Sereiti, Abu-Amer & Sena, 1999; Oluwatuyi, Kaatz & Gibbons, 2004; Mekonnen et al., 2016). Rosemary has long been associated – as a cult plant – with birth and death, love and marriage, and for protecting against evil spirits (Al-Sereiti et al., 1999). The term Rosmarinus originates from the Latin Dew of the Sea (Al-Sereiti, et al., 1999). Rosemary is popularly used as aromatherapy wherein rosemary oil is retrieved from steam distillation of the leaves and flowering tips of the plant (Al-Sereiti, et al., 1999).

Benefits and Effects

  • Both inhalation via aromatherapy and oral ingestion of rosemary oil have been associated with increased central nervous system (respiratory and locomotor) activity thereby suggesting a stimulatory effect (Al-Sereiti, et al., 1999)
  • Rosemary’s cerebrovascular effects, among other properties, have been shown to boost cognition and memory in healthy adults through increases in cerebral oxygen availability, as well as through other enhanced cell functioning means (Moss et al., 2016; Villareal et al., 2018; Perry et al., 2018)
  • Extracts have shown to reduce pain, anxiety, and depression (Mena et al., 2016; Abdelhalim et al., 2015; Al-Sereiti, et al., 1999; Mekonnen et al., 2016; Villareal et al., 2018)
  • Rosemary administration has been shown to reduce tension and stress as seen by cerebral cortisol reductions (Hassani et al., 2016; Villareal et al., 2018)
  • Rosemary oil baths are known to improve circulation and stimulate the skin (Al-Sereiti, et al., 1999)
  • The plant has been traditionally used for both its choleretic and hepatoprotective properties: seen with increased bile flow and liver enzyme count (Mena, 2016; Al-Sereiti, et al., 1999)
  • Rosemary sprouts are known to stunt lipid peroxidation as seen with reductions in malonaldehyde, including management of both lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and aspartate aminotransferase (ASA-T), which are both important biomarkers of acute cell functioning throughout the body (notably the brain and heart) (Al-Sereiti, et al., 1999)
  • Rosemary has been found to inhibit tumorigenesis by 42% in rat models thus promoting its use against cancer formation; whereby this is further supported through inhibiting KB cell activity, a biomarker of carcinogenesis, as well as modulating cell proliferation (Al-Sereiti, et al., 1999; Oluwatuyi, 2004; Cheung & Tai, 2007; Kontogianni et al., 2013; Hussain et al., 2010; Moore, Yousef & Tsiani, 2016)
  • Remarkably, the yeast Candida albicans when treatment resistant to nyastin (often found with patients whom have cancer or pneumonia), cleared up within days of rosemary administration (Al-Sereiti, et al., 1999)
  • Rosemary shows antimicrobial and resistance modifying ability, suggesting an aiding potential with combating treatment resistant bacteria (Oluwatuyi, 2004; Rasooli, 2008; Santoyo, 2005; Hussain et al., 2010; Mekonnen et al., 2016)
  • The plant’s components have been shown to reduce atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries often associated with cardiovascular disease, poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking (Hassani et al., 2016)
  • Antioxidants properties are evidenced through Rosemary’s constituents: carnosic acid, carnosol, rosmarinic acid, including a high phenolic acid profile (Erkan, Ayranci & Ayranci, 2008; Inatani, Nakatani & Fuwa, 1983; Nakatani & Inatani, 1984; Hussain, 2010)
  • Immunomodifying effects have been found with the anti-inflammatory effects of Rosemary (Kontogianni et al., 2013; Rocha et al., 2015)
  • Through neuronal protection, rosemary may be effective in assisting cognitive degradation in those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), including improved memory with those of Dementia type AD, potentially improving those with Parkinson’s disease in this same way (Habtemariam, 2016)
  • The phenolic properties of Rosemary are known to combat obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome (Hassani et al., 2016)


Rosemary can be consumed orally as a tea, within food, or in extract form, as well as through inhalation via aromatherapy. Rosemary shows low toxicity and dosing varies according to the purpose of administration.


Abdelhalim, A., Karim, N., Chebib, M., Aburjai, T., Khan, I., Johnston, G. A., & Hanrahan, J. (2015). Antidepressant, anxiolytic and antinociceptive activities of constituents from Rosmarinus officinalis. Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, 18(4), 448-459.

Al-Sereiti, M. R., Abu-Amer, K. M., & Sena, P. (1999). Pharmacology of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.) and its therapeutic potentials.

Cheung, S., & Tai, J. (2007). Anti-proliferative and antioxidant properties of rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis. Oncology reports, 17(6), 1525-1531.

Erkan, N., Ayranci, G., & Ayranci, E. (2008). Antioxidant activities of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) extract, blackseed (Nigella sativa L.) essential oil, carnosic acid, rosmarinic acid and sesamol. Food chemistry, 110(1), 76-82.

Hussain, A. I., Anwar, F., Chatha, S. A. S., Jabbar, A., Mahboob, S., & Nigam, P. S. (2010). Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil: antiproliferative, antioxidant and antibacterial activities. Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, 41(4), 1070-1078.

Hassani, F. V., Shirani, K., & Hosseinzadeh, H. (2016). Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) as a potential therapeutic plant in metabolic syndrome: a review. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s archives of pharmacology, 389(9), 931-949.

Inatani, R., Nakatani, N., & Fuwa, H. (1983). Antioxidative effect of the constituents of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) and their derivatives. Agricultural and biological chemistry, 47(3), 521-528.

Habtemariam, S. (2016). The therapeutic potential of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) diterpenes for Alzheimer’s disease. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016.

Kontogianni, V. G., Tomic, G., Nikolic, I., Nerantzaki, A. A., Sayyad, N., Stosic-Grujicic, S., … & Tzakos, A. G. (2013). Phytochemical profile of Rosmarinus officinalis and Salvia officinalis extracts and correlation to their antioxidant and anti-proliferative activity. Food Chemistry, 136(1), 120-129.

Mekonnen, A., Yitayew, B., Tesema, A., & Taddese, S. (2016). In vitro antimicrobial activity of essential oil of Thymus schimperi, Matricaria chamomilla, Eucalyptus globulus, and Rosmarinus officinalis. International journal of microbiology, 2016.

Mena, P., Cirlini, M., Tassotti, M., Herrlinger, K., Dall’Asta, C., & Del Rio, D. (2016). Phytochemical profiling of flavonoids, phenolic acids, terpenoids, and volatile fraction of a rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) extract. Molecules, 21(11), 1576.

Moore, J., Yousef, M., & Tsiani, E. (2016). Anticancer effects of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) extract and rosemary extract polyphenols. Nutrients, 8(11), 731.

Moss, M., Smith, E., Milner, M., & McCready, J. (2018). Acute ingestion of rosemary water: Evidence of cognitive and cerebrovascular effects in healthy adults. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 32(12), 1319-1329.

Nakatani, N., & Inatani, R. (1984). Two antioxidative diterpenes from rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) and a revised structure for rosmanol. Agricultural and Biological Chemistry, 48(8), 2081-2085.

Mena, P., Cirlini, M., Tassotti, M., Herrlinger, K., Dall’Asta, C., & Del Rio, D. (2016). Phytochemical profiling of flavonoids, phenolic acids, terpenoids, and volatile fraction of a rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) extract. Molecules, 21(11), 1576.

Oluwatuyi, M., Kaatz, G. W., & Gibbons, S. (2004). Antibacterial and resistance modifying activity of Rosmarinus officinalis. Phytochemistry, 65(24), 3249-3254.

Perry, N. S. L., Menzies, R., Hodgson, F., Wedgewood, P., Howes, M. J., Brooker, H. J., … & Perry, E. K. (2018). A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled pilot trial of a combined extract of sage, rosemary and melissa, traditional herbal medicines, on the enhancement of memory in normal healthy subjects, including influence of age. Phytomedicine, 39, 42-48.

Rasooli, I., Fakoor, M. H., Yadegarinia, D., Gachkar, L., Allameh, A., & Rezaei, M. B. (2008). Antimycotoxigenic characteristics of Rosmarinus officinalis and Trachyspermum copticum L. essential oils. International journal of food microbiology, 122(1-2), 135-139.

Rocha, J., Eduardo‐Figueira, M., Barateiro, A., Fernandes, A., Brites, D., Bronze, R., … & Fernandes, E. (2015). Anti‐inflammatory effect of rosmarinic acid and an extract of Rosmarinus officinalis in rat models of local and systemic inflammation. Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology, 116(5), 398-413.

Santoyo, S., Cavero, S., Jaime, L., Ibanez, E., Senorans, F. J., & Reglero, G. (2005). Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil obtained via supercritical fluid extraction. Journal of food protection, 68(4), 790-795.

Villareal, M. O., Ikeya, A., Sasaki, K., Arfa, A. B., Neffati, M., & Isoda, H. (2017). Anti-stress and neuronal cell differentiation induction effects of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 17(1), 549.

Photo by Alekon pictures on Unsplash

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