Rosemary

Rosemarinus officinalis, labiatae. The aerial parts of the plant are used.

The leaves may be collected throughout the summer but they are at their best during the flowering time.

Functions of rosemary

Rosemary has many uses including:

  • as an antiseptic with antibacterial and antifungal actions which enhance the function of the immune system.
  • increasing the circulation to the skin , thereby causing perspiration. This makes it useful for bringing down a fever.
  • warming and stimulating the clearing of phlegm from the head and chest, relieving coughs, colds and flu, catarrh, wheezing, bronchitis, and whooping cough. Its relaxant effects helps relieve spasms in the bronchial tubes in asthma.
  • as a tonic for the heart, brain and nervous system. It does this by increasing the blood flow to the head.
  • relieving anxiety, tension, exhaustion, lethargy, depression, insomnia, and during convalescence for the elderly.
  • treating migraines and headaches.
  • improving vitality and stimulating digestion. it relieves flatulence and distension, enhances appetite and increases the flow of digestive juices. It improves the flow of food through the digestive tract and assists in the absorption of nutrients. The bitters stimulate the liver and gallbladder increasing the flow of bile and aiding in the digestion of fats.
  • as a rejuvenating tonic and is said to slow the aging process.
  • as a stimulant to hair follicles and may therefore be useful in premature baldness. This oil is most effective for this use.
  • externally to ease muscle pain, sciatica and neuralgia.

Notes on rosemary

  • In therapeutic amounts it may cause excessive menstrual bleeding. It is considered safe when it is used as a spice.

Dosage

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 - 2 teaspoonsful of the dried herb and leave to infuse in a covered container for 10 to 15 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

Tincture: take 1 - 2 ml of the tincture three times per day.

For the gardener

This evergreen blue flowering shrub is a native plant to the rocky shore line of the Mediterranean. It is easy to start from seed, but using a cutting gives good results. Plant the cuttings (that are about 6 inches (15 cm) tall) 4 inches (12 cm) deep in moist sandy soil.

The plants are hardy to summer drought and will tolerate some frosts in the winter (especially after they have become established). You will have to provide them with some water in the summer, during the flowering period if the climate is particularly hot and dry. If you live in a particularly cold climate you may need to grow them in a pot or provide them with winter protection.

When harvesting the leaves don't take any more than 3/4 of the new growth. Allow the leaves to dry slowly until they are crumbly.

References

Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.

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