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Dew of the Sea

Tranquil and content, she kept her post at the edge of the cliff. Dancing with the wind that swayed her. The sun burned bright, the Mediterranean singing beneath her. All was well, and she knew anyone who might meet her here would remember this moment.



When the first humans came across our friend, I can imagine their confusion. With needle-like leaves and a strong thin stalk, who would have though this plant would bring comfort for the generations that follow. Rosemary would go on to fulfill a number of uses, in both the culinary and cultural arts.



The Latin name Rosmarinus officinalis comes from the Latin ros (dew) and marinus (sea), naming it after its place along the seashore [1]. Early history found rosemary decorating Greek and Roman scholars, crowning them with apparent knowledge [2]. This was on account of its strong aroma, suggesting recall for the scholars.


Today we know a lot more on the science of rosemary for memory and wellness.




Antibacterial

Rosemary has been used in food and cosmetics as a preservative (due to its antibacterial and anti fungal effect) [3-4]. The relationship of rosemary to our food started as a meat preservative before there were refrigerators! Research has shown the essential oil to kill several species of bacteria [5] including Staphylococcus aureus, which causes severe skin infections and boils. In addition to the infamous Escherichia coli (E. coli) which may lead to a form of food poisoning. Including it into your meals, especially those with meats and products prone to spoilage, works in your favor.


Anti inflammatory

Its anti inflammatory effect has also been well documented in eating rosemary as well as applying its essential oil to trouble areas [3, 6-7]. While you may incorporate rosemary into your diet, if there's an immediate need for muscle relief the essential oil should do the trick. You can mix 4 drops essential oil into a teaspoon of a carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, olive oil etc) and rub it into the trouble area [8].


Antioxidant

Important for the immune system and preventative to disease, antioxidants are a key ingredient in your daily diet. Rosemary has a variety of antioxidants, helping you live a healthier life. Research has shown it to prevent cancer [9-10], highlighting that the whole essential oil was more effective than individual compounds working on their own [11]. These antioxidants also protect your liver from damage (not reversing damage) when eaten for at least a week [12]. If taking anything potentially harmful for the liver, including rosemary into your diet has been suggested to protect from further damage.


Circulation

Cold feet and fingers? It may be a sign of poor blood circulation, especially when experienced even in warmer seasons. Rosemary has built something of a following for its warming effect, this is due to its tendency to increase blood flow [13]. A case study showed rubbing rosemary oil into the skin of someone with Raynaud’s disease (poor circulation) results in such a dramatic warming effect it was detectable by thermal imaging [14]. However this was tested on one individual, making these findings not very impactful for Raynaud’s disease specifically. That being said, be weary of using rosemary if taking any anticoagulants (i.e.- warfarin) as it adds to its effect [15].

Memory

Not only does it improve your mood [16], researchers have found that simply inhaling the aromas of rosemary improve memory and recall [17-19]. Your brain uses a compound called acetylcholine to communicate with the rest of the body. To keep it simple, acetylcholine helps with holding focus, memories, and even a better nights sleep [18, 20]. Rosemary prevents this compound from being broken down, allowing us to reap the benefits of acetylcholine for longer. Hack the system, keep a diffuser with rosemary essential oil nearby while you study! You can also try moving your rosemary plant to your nightstand for deeper sleep.






These are only a few of the papers completed on rosemary. An easy plant to grow, and forgiving of forgetfulness, rosemary is a staple of an herbal household. Leaving it on the windowsill, and allowing it to dry before watering, will keep this plant happy. Should you chose to grow it outdoors you may be looking at 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5m) of pure Mediterranean wellness. If living in colder climates however be aware of its warm nature, move it indoors to keep it growing all year round.







References

  1. Heinrich, M., Kufer, J., Leonti, M., & Pardo-de-Santayana, M. (2006). Ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology—Interdisciplinary links with the historical sciences. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 107(2), 157-160.

  2. Begum, A., Sandhya, S., Vinod, K. R., Reddy, S., & Banji, D. (2013). An in-depth review on the medicinal flora Rosmarinus officinalis (Lamiaceae). Acta scientiarum polonorum Technologia alimentaria, 12(1), 61-74.

  3. Borges, R. S., Ortiz, B. L. S., Pereira, A. C. M., Keita, H., & Carvalho, J. C. T. (2019). Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil: A review of its phytochemistry, anti-inflammatory activity, and mechanisms of action involved. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 229, 29-45.

  4. Ribeiro-Santos, R., Carvalho-Costa, D., Cavaleiro, C., Costa, H. S., Albuquerque, T. G., Castilho, M. C., ... & Sanches-Silva, A. (2015). A novel insight on an ancient aromatic plant: The rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.). Trends in Food Science & Technology, 45(2), 355-368.

  5. Okoh, O. O., Sadimenko, A. P., & Afolayan, A. J. (2010). Comparative evaluation of the antibacterial activities of the essential oils of Rosmarinus officinalis L. obtained by hydrodistillation and solvent free microwave extraction methods. Food chemistry, 120(1), 308-312.

  6. 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.

  7. Rezaee, M., Hajiaghaee, R., Azizbeigi, K., Rahmati-Ahmadabad, S., Helalizadeh, M., Akbari, M., ... & Azarbayjani, M. A. (2020). The effect of essential oil of rosemary on eccentric exercise-induced delayed-onset muscle soreness in non-active women. Comparative Exercise Physiology, 16(2), 129-136.

  8. Lakhan, S. E., Sheafer, H., & Tepper, D. (2016). The effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain research and treatment, 2016.

  9. Hoefler, C., Fleurentin, J., Mortier, F., Pelt, J. M., & Guillemain, J. (1987). Comparative choleretic and hepatoprotective properties of young sprouts and total plant extracts of Rosmarinus officinalis in rats. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 19(2), 133-143.

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

  11. Wang, W., Li, N., Luo, M., Zu, Y., & Efferth, T. (2012). Antibacterial activity and anticancer activity of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil compared to that of its main components. Molecules, 17(3), 2704-2713.

  12. Rašković, A., Milanović, I., Pavlović, N., Ćebović, T., Vukmirović, S., & Mikov, M. (2014). Antioxidant activity of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) essential oil and its hepatoprotective potential. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 14(1), 225.

  13. Lahlou, S., Figueiredo, A. F., Magalhães, P. J. C., & Leal-Cardoso, J. H. (2002). Cardiovascular effects of 1, 8-cineole, a terpenoid oxide present in many plant essential oils, in normotensive rats. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 80(12), 1125-1131.

  14. von Schoen-Angerer, T., Deckers, B., Henes, J., Helmert, E., & Vagedes, J. (2018). Effect of topical rosemary essential oil on Raynaud phenomenon in systemic sclerosis. Complementary therapies in medicine, 40, 191-194.

  15. Posadzki, P., Watson, L., & Ernst, E. (2013). Herb–drug interactions: an overview of systematic reviews. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 75(3), 603-618.

  16. Sayorwan, W., Ruangrungsi, N., Piriyapunyporn, T., Hongratanaworakit, T., Kotchabhakdi, N., & Siripornpanich, V. (2013). Effects of inhaled rosemary oil on subjective feelings and activities of the nervous system. Scientia pharmaceutica, 81(2), 531-542.

  17. Jimbo, D., Kimura, Y., Taniguchi, M., Inoue, M., & Urakami, K. (2009). Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer's disease. Psychogeriatrics, 9(4), 173-179.

  18. Moss, M., & Oliver, L. (2012). Plasma 1, 8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology, 2(3), 103-113.

  19. McCaffrey, R., Thomas, D. J., & Kinzelman, A. O. (2009). The effects of lavender and rosemary essential oils on test-taking anxiety among graduate nursing students. Holistic nursing practice, 23(2), 88-93.

  20. Hasselmo, M. E. (2006). The role of acetylcholine in learning and memory. Current opinion in neurobiology, 16(6), 710-715.



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