Rosemary is among one of the oldest used herbs in history. This delicious and aromatic herbs has a ton of properties and wide ranging uses – from practical to fun. Let's talk a little more about this fab plant!
The rosemary plant is a shrubby herb that remains fairly short in Pennsylvania, but can grow to 3 feet tall. It has short evergreen leaves and comes in several varieties including silver to gold striped, though the green leaf variety is used medicinally.
Rosemary’s earliest known role was as a preservative and antiseptic. Early populations used rosemary to preserve meats, finding that the crushed herb added to the meat could dramatically improve the shelf life. Rosemarinic acid in the plant is still harvested and used as a natural preservative today. The herb is also regularly added to commercial food products as a stabilizer and to extend shelf life.
Rosemary was also considered good for the memory and in ancient Rome rosemary wreaths were worn around heads to promote good memory. This trait evolved into an aid for remembrance, and rosemary is often placed near entry ways of homes to help us remember those we lost. As a sign of fidelity for lovers, rosemary was used in wedding wreaths and flowers. This lovely little plant has also been planted outside homes to ward off evil and witches. And in old England, it was planted in the gardens to show that women ruled the roost in that house (men were reported to have been seen ripping it out of the garden, there by establishing their place as the head of the household).
Rosemary’s volatile oils are the source of its curative powers. It has been used as a tonic, astringent, nervine, stomachic and antiseptic. In plain English that means it’s great for indigestion and stomach concerns, headaches, skin issues, and improving circulation. It’s often used a hair wash and is fabulous for dandruff and dry scalp. Rosemary has also been said to promote hair growth, even in cases of baldness. The Queen of Hungary used a wash of rosemary in the 1200s to stimulate blood flow and combat paralyzed limbs and gout. These blood stimulating properties have gained rosemary a reputation as an aid in stimulating kidneys. Rosemary is also known to reduce stomach cramping, bloating and gas (by aiding in the release of bile that digests fat).
You can tell by smelling rosemary that it has a camphor component. As such, rosemary is great as a tea, or chest rub, when you have a cold or congestion (and good bit better than the Stuff grandma used to rub on you). For easy at home preparation – make a rosemary tea by steeping the herb (fresh or dried) in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Soak a cloth in this tea and apply to chest, refreshing the cloth as it cools. Breathe deeply and think healthy thoughts. :-)
PRECAUTIONS: The essential oil should NEVER be ingested as it is for external use ONLY. Women that are pregnant, and those who experience heavy menstrual cycles, should not use rosemary medicinally – though some in your food is considered safe.
So Ladies, grab yourself a rosemary plant to put on your steps - thereby establishing yourself as the Queen of the house, warding off any witches, promoting fidelity and remembrance, and of course spicing up dinner tonight!