You may wonder why a light blue flower like this is called “rosemary.” Turns out that the name has nothing to do with Mary or roses. Rosemary got its name from the Latin “rosmarinus,” which means “dew of the sea.” Apparently it was so named because of the light blue flowers and the plant's affinity for wet environments.
A popular and almost magical herb, rosemary was often used in weddings, entwined into a wreath and worn by brides. Anne of Cleves, Henry the Eighth's fourth wife, was said to have worn a rosemary wreath at their wedding.
Rosemary was also used historically to offer protection from the bubonic plague and to ease the pain of gout, and was once considered the perfect herb for strengthening memory.
A Little Bit About the Ingredient Itself
Scientifically called Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and flowers that bloom white, purple, or blue. Native to the Mediterranean Sea and Portugal, it can grow as tall as 6 feet, yet fans out to look like a bush. It loves humid areas like those by the sea, but it is interestingly drought tolerant and is considered easy to grow.
Many people love rosemary as an ornamental plant in gardens, and can adapt it to create formal shapes, low hedges, and groundcover. It likes soil with good drainage and lots of sun, but will not do well in waterlogged climates.
You're probably very familiar with rosemary in seasoning for meats like lamb, pork, and chicken. It's also often used in bread and biscuit doughs, as well as in potatoes, beans, and lentils. A favorite for flavoring olive oils and cheeses, it's found its way into soups, sauces, stews, sausages, and salads.
Internal Health Benefits of Rosemary
Traditionally used to treat gout and to improve memory, rosemary is still a good choice for soothing muscle aches and pains. It can ease digestive upset, and helps stimulate circulation.
Though research is still preliminary on many of rosemary's potential health benefits, some evidence already exists that it may help prevent or suppress Alzheimer's disease. Scientists believe the antioxidants in the herb are responsible.
Rosemary is also used to stimulate blood flow to the brain, improving concentration and relieving depression and fatigue. In addition, it may give relief to respiratory allergies and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Rosemary's Benefits to the Skin
Rosemary's primary reputation in skin care and cosmetics is its ability to balance natural oils. It can help refresh oily skin and hair without causing excess dryness. If you have oily skin or clogged pores, this is also the herb to look for, as it cleans out dirt and other impurities that can clog pores.
In addition, rosemary offers these benefits:
- Anti-Aging: Rosemary is rich in antioxidants like carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, which protect. It can also rejuvenate skin to a more youthful glow.
- Toning/Firming: Rosemary is reputed to help give your skin a firmer, tighter look.
You may notice by the list below that I've taken advantage of rosemary in my cleansing and rejuvenating products—all of these will help tone and firm the look of your skin.
- Ayurvedic Facial Scrub
- Coconut Body & Face Oil
- Anti-Aging Serum
- Anti-Aging Facial Oil
- Anti-Aging Eye Cream
- Herbal Facial Oil for Normal and Combination Skin
- Herbal Facial Oil for Oily Skin
- Dead Sea Scrub
- Rosemary Peppermint Body Wash
- Rosemary Toning Mist
- Radiant Skin Silk Body Lotion
How do you use rosemary? Please share your tips and tricks.
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Photo courtesy tonrulkens via Flickr.com.
Our Herb Garden, “The History of Rosemary—Origins & Historical Uses,” http://www.ourherbgarden.com/herb-history/rosemary.html.
Jerry Schwartz, “Health Benefits of Rosemary,” Herb Companion, January/February 1999, http://www.herbcompanion.com/health/the-power-of-rosemary.aspx.
Super Foods, “Rosemary Health Benefits and Side Effects,” December 26, 2011, http://theworldbestsuperfoods.blogspot.com/2011/12/rosemary.html.