By Dr. Akash Prabhune, Research Associate – ICTPH
Rosemary (Botanical Name – Rosmarinus officinalis) has been known to humans since the Egyptian era. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region, and has been used by Egyptians, Assyrians as an aromatic plant to decorate their gardens and houses. Greeks and then Romans have known to use fresh and dried rosemary in their cuisines. Rosemary belongs to mint family, unlike its other family member rosemary has bitter astringent taste with a characteristics aroma which compliments numerous culinary preparations.
Botanist, Pharmacologists have been engaged in extensive research on the medical benefits of the herb. Traditional medicine scripts have mentioned use of Rosemary essential oil as antibacterial, antifungal (1). While the oil extracted from Rosemary is not deemed fit for direct human consumption, other plant parts like leaves, flowers can be consumed without any noted side effects (2). In this article, we will go through the scientifically proven and most common health benefits rendered by including rosemary herb into your daily diet. Table 1. List the benefits along with the possible compound responsible for the action.
|Table 1. Beneficial effects for Rosemary, compound responsible and method of intake|
|Benefits||Compound||Suggested Method of Intake|
|Anti-inflammatory Effect(1)||Carnosol and Carnosic acid||Dried leaves cooked with herbal tea|
|Anti-Prostrate cancer effect(2)||Polyphenols||Dried leaves as garnish with meat or other food items|
|Lowering of Cholesterol levels(3)||Flavonoids||Dried leaves and flowers with boiled water as herbal tea|
|Pain relief effects or Anti Spasmodic effect(4)||Monoterpenes
|Dried herbs as food toppings or Fresh leaves extract after boiling in water for 30 mins|
|Destressing effect(5)||Quercetin, Rutin and Kaempferol||Dried leaves and flowers with boiled water as herbal tea|
|Anti-ageing effect(6)||Polyphenols||Dried leaves with water paste topical application|
We will subsequently go through each of the mentioned benefits in Table 1. And will discuss the current scientific data available to support our claims.
Rosemary was long known for its anti-inflammatory effects, Romans used to prepare tea form rosemary leaves to treat sore throat and similar conditions (2,7). Recently a paper published in International Journal of Molecular sciences profiled all the compounds present in Rosemary leaves and the results show higher concentration of Carnosic acid, carnosol compounds which are known for their anti-inflammatory effect(7). Another paper published in Oxid Med Cell Longevity journal carried out invitro test on isolated cell cultures where the extracts form rosemary where able to bring down secretion of anti-inflammatory factors within the cells (8).
Anti-prostate cancer Effect
Multiple researchers have been working to demonstrate the protective effect of rosemary against different cancers, prostate cancer is the one which has peeked the interest on many cancer researchers. Due to higher concentration of Polyphenols present in the leaves, flowers of the rosemary.A group of researchers recently published a study wherein they were successful to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells using rosemary extracts in rat models (2). The paper also stresses the benefits of rosemary in inhibiting the development of cancer in humans who use rosemary as a part of their daily diet.
Lowering of Cholesterol levels
Cholesterol plays an important role in setting on various circulatory diseases which lead to fatal outcomes. Since the ages humans are well versed the natural flavonoids present in the rosemary leaves. Scientist have been successful in identifying and extracting 16 flavonoids from rosemary leaves (3). The data shows that 6 out of the 16 identified flavonoids play active role in triglycerides metabolism which in turn helps in bringing down the cholesterol levels. A study in rat models was successful in demonstrating a significant reduction in triglyceride levels of mice after ingestion of rosemary leaves extracts (9).
Pain relief effects or Anti Spasmodic effect
Chronic pain from muscle spasm requires continuous care and regular intake of pain killers over a long period of time to subdued. Accidental or road traffic injuries lead to acute pain which is unbearable at many instances and requires opioid drugs to manage the pain. A recent study published in Scientific Reports journal has demonstrated that the extracts form leaves of rosemary contains phenols like Monoterpenes Diterpene phenols which reduce neural excitement and reduce pain(4). In another study conducted on burn cases in Iranian chemical industry showed that, persons with burn wounds showed better healing decrease episodes of pain after they were given herbal tea made form rosemary leaves for two months (9).
Rosemary is long known for its destressing effect. Egyptians used to plant rosemary in their gardens for its stress relieving aroma. The natural flavonoids like Quercetin, Rutin and Kaempferol are known to increase blood circulation to brain, increase the secretion of stress relieving hormones like dopamine which induce relaxation of muscles and calming effect. A recent study in mice has shown that rosemary extracts lead to antidepressant antianxiety effects (10).
Rosemary extracts are part of various commercial anti-ageing crème’s. Many popular UV protection ointments also use rosemary extracts as one their active component. A study done on European subjects showed that rosemary extracts when applied on sun burnt areas of skin showed better healing (6). Another study has shown daily consumption of rosemary herbal tea leads to delayed ageing of skin cells, decrease in number of wrinkles and increase elasticity of skin.
Other notable benefits of rosemary
Rosemary has also shown other beneficiary effects in reducing the risk of myocardial infraction. When meat products are stored with a covering of dried rosemary leaves on them, the meat tends to maintain its natural flavours for longer time. Rosemary leaves have been found effective in reducing acetone levels in cooked meat and other fired food stuffs.
Methods of Incorporating Rosemary into your daily diet
We recommend drinking the tea brewed form fresh rosemary leaves as it is rich is flavonoids and antioxidant properties. In case you can’t get fresh leaves, dry leaves will save the day. Garnishing your meal with dried crushed rosemary leaves and flowers is another excellent way to get the goodness of the plant. In case you buy deep freezed meat products form super market we recommend to add few stems of rosemary to cooking water then proceed to cook the meat.
That’s all folks
- Sienkiewicz M, Łysakowska M, Pastuszka M, Bienias W, Kowalczyk E. The Potential of Use Basil and Rosemary Essential Oils as Effective Antibacterial Agents. Molecules. 2013 Aug 5;18(8):9334–51.
- Petiwala SM, Puthenveetil AG, Johnson JJ. Polyphenols from the Mediterranean herb rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) for prostate cancer. Front Pharmacol [Internet]. 2013 Mar 25;4. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607075/
- Li J, Adelakun TA, Wang S, Ruan J, Yang S, Li X, et al. Inhibitory Effects of Constituents from the Aerial Parts of Rosmarinus officinalis L. on Triglyceride Accumulation. Molecules. 2017 Jan 17;22(1):110.
- Mannelli LDC, Micheli L, Maresca M, Cravotto G, Bellumori M, Innocenti M, et al. Anti-neuropathic effects of Rosmarinus officinalis L. terpenoid fraction: relevance of nicotinic receptors. Sci Rep [Internet]. 2016 Oct 7;6. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5054390/
- Zamberlan DC, Amaral GP, Arantes LP, Machado ML, Mizdal CR, Campos MMA, et al. Rosmarinus officinalis L. increases Caenorhabditis elegans stress resistance and longevity in a DAF-16, HSF-1 and SKN-1-dependent manner. Braz J Med Biol Res [Internet]. 2016 Aug 1;49(9). Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4988476/
- Nobile V, Michelotti A, Cestone E, Caturla N, Castillo J, Benavente-García O, et al. Skin photoprotective and antiageing effects of a combination of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) polyphenols. Food Nutr Res [Internet]. 2016 Jul 1;60. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4931025/
- Borrás-Linares I, Stojanović Z, Quirantes-Piné R, Arráez-Román D, Švarc-Gajić J, Fernández-Gutiérrez A, et al. Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaves as a Natural Source of Bioactive Compounds. Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Nov 10;15(11):20585–606.
- Chohan M, Naughton DP, Jones L, Opara EI. An Investigation of the Relationship between the Anti-Inflammatory Activity, Polyphenolic Content, and Antioxidant Activities of Cooked and In Vitro Digested Culinary Herbs. Oxid Med Cell Longev [Internet]. 2012;2012. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3364734/
- Mehrabi T, Gorji S, Zolfaghari B, Razmjoo R. The effect of Rosmarinus herbal tea on occupational burnout in Iran Chemical Industry Investment company employees. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2015;20(4):460–4.
- Abdelhalim A, Karim N, Chebib M, Aburjai T, Khan I, Johnston GAR, et al. Antidepressant, Anxiolytic and Antinociceptive Activities of Constituents from Rosmarinus Officinalis. J Pharm Pharm Sci Publ Can Soc Pharm Sci Soc Can Sci Pharm. 2015;18(4):448–59.