Rosemary – Benefits, Usage, Dosage, Indications


Rosemary history

The rosemary has been the subject of numerous historical and legendary mentions. The ancients vowed him great veneration. It was used generously in all celebrations, whether nuptial, funeral or secular celebrations. Brides wore rosemary wreaths, symbols of love and loyalty, while guests received branches embellished with multicolored silk ribbons. We also put sprigs of rosemary under the pillows to chase away evil spirits and nightmares.

The Egyptians placed twigs of rosemary in the tomb of the pharaohs to strengthen their souls. Rosemary is a symbol of remembrance and friendship. Greek students made crowns from them, which they wore during exams to stimulate their memory.

During epidemics rosemary was very popular: twigs were burnt to purify the air and sachets were carried with you, which you breathed as you passed through the places affected by this terrible disease. History also says that the Queen of Hungary, who suffered from chronic rheumatism, was freed from her problems thanks to a remedy based on rosemary when she was 72 years old.

In some rural areas, rosemary in red wine to get a fortifying drink. Rosemary is also used as an alcohol-based extract for wounds and as an ointment or balm to relieve rheumatism and neuralgia, both in humans and animals.

TheEssential oil of rosemary is widely used as an aromatic component in the cosmetics industry (soaps, perfumes, creams, etc.), but also in the food industry (alcoholic beverages, desserts, sweets, lipid storage, etc.).

Rosemary benefits

Stimulation of cognitive faculties

Rosemary essential oil had a slight beneficial effect on spatial memory and memory short-term in a trial of 144 subjects (48 exposed to rosemary essential oil, 47 exposed to lavender essential oil and 48 in the control group). In a trial of 120 nursing students at the time of 4 of their exams, the rosemary essential oil, in inhalation, increased their concentration.

Recent studies contradict the positive effects of rosemary on cognitive faculties. In 2012, a randomized, double-blind study found that rosemary (750 mg leaf extract) has a very modest effect on cognition, especially memory, in older people in their 70s, compared to placebo. On the other hand, the highest dose used (6000 mg) seems to deteriorate memory.

A year later, researchers conducted cognitive tests on young, energy-starved adults. Their results indicate that rosemary (1.7 g in capsule form), combined with black pepper, did not improve their cognitive performance, and their attention in particular.

Alopecia (area or plaque alopecia)

Results from a double-blind placebo study indicate that a blend of essential oils from rosemary, lavender, thyme and cedar wood applied to the scalp stimulates hair growth for people with alopecia areata. This study, which lasted 7 months, nevertheless has methodological weaknesses: for example, the lotion used as a placebo did not give off the same odor as the “active” lotion and 32% of the subjects in the placebo group discontinued the treatment before the end of the study, which may skew the results.

Stress and anxiety

A study published in 2009 found that a combination of rosemary and lavender oils slows heartbeat in students taking an exam confirming the anti-stress and anxiolytic effects of rosemary previously reported. However, another study indicates that applying rosemary oil on the wrist increases feelings of anxiety in adults 18 to 30 years of age, compared to placebo.


Preclinical studies suggest that combining a product containing rosemary, hops and oleanolic acid reduces arthritis pain after four weeks. These beneficial effects could be due to rosmarinic acid, an ingredient abundantly present in rosemary, which would decrease the production of prostaglandins, molecules responsible for inflammation. These effects could also be attributable to several components of the plant with antioxidant properties. These tests have so far not been replicated.

Committee E and ESCOP recognize the internal use of the rosemary to relieve gastric disorders and its external use, as an adjuvant, to relieve rheumatic disorders and peripheral blood circulation (hands, feet, legs). ESCOP also recommends rosemary to improve bile and liver functions (liver) and, externally, as light antiseptic. It is also used to treat gout, relieve cough and reduce high blood pressure.

Tests in vitro and carried out on animals have effectively demonstrated that rosemary has hepatoprotective properties, antiulcerative, antispasmodics and antimicrobials. Indian researchers have notably found, in the laboratory, that rosemary essential oil is active against strains of Escherichia coli and Candida albicans drug resistant.


Study results in vitro and on animals indicate that the rosemary could inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells. Researchers attribute antiproliferative effects and antimutagens rosemary to the polyphenolic compounds it contains, including carnosol and carnosic acid. The antioxidant properties of rosemary also interest dermatologists.

In the form of an essential oil used in massage or inhalation, the rosemary, combined with lavender and other herbs has had pain relief in stroke patients. It is not known, however, what the specific effect of rosemary was.

In 2013, a team of researchers became interested in the effects of rosemary on the treatment of opium withdrawal syndrome. People on the detoxification program received both methadone and an extract of dried rosemary leaves for 4 weeks, while the control group received methadone and a placebo. Compared to placebo, individuals who received the methadone-rosemary extract combination had fewer withdrawal symptoms (e.g. bone pain, insomnia).

The effect of a rosemary extract has been evaluated in children with type 1 diabetes, in combination with omegas-3 and vitamin E. By analyzing the urine of these children, the researchers noticed that the Diabetic children who had received this combination had a different metabolic profile than children who had not received these extracts. Further studies will be needed to assess whether rosemary – known for its antioxidant properties – has a positive impact in diabetic children. Results of animal testing indicate that aromatic fumes from rosemary can relieve airway inflammation caused by allergenic household dust and the particles emitted by the exhaust of a diesel engine.

Rosemary dosage


Fatigue, weakness, digestive and hepatic disorders, respiratory and ENT (ear, nose and throat) infections, headache

  • Infusion. Infuse, for 10 minutes, 1 to 2 g of dried rosemary in 150 ml of boiling water; take 2 to 3 cups a day.
  • Liquid extract (1: 1 – 45% ethanol). Take 2 to 4 ml, 3 times a day.
  • Tincture (1: 5 -70% ethanol). Take 10 ml, 3 times a day.

Hepatic stimulation

For a spring or fall cure intended to stimulate and decongest the liver and gallbladder:

  • Essential oil (rosemary to verbenone). Take 2 drops every morning on a small piece of sugar or with a little honey, to soften the pronounced taste. Continue for 3 weeks.
Internal use of essential oil

Some sources are more generous on dosages, for example, 3 to 4 drops, 2 to 3 times a day. Commission E recommends 10 to 20 drops per day, but the American publisher of the English version of this book considers this excessive and possibly unsafe dosage: he recommends instead sticking to 2 drops per day. For its part, ESCOP recommends reserving the essential oil for external use.

There are 3 types of rosemary essential oil that vary depending on where it is grown and when it is harvested. They are named according to the active principle which predominates.

  • The rosemary officinal to camphor is less strongly antiseptic, but acts more on the neuromuscular system.
  • The rosemary with cineole is more expectorant.
  • The rosemary with verbenone is particularly effective for digestive and liver problems, but is neurotoxic and abortive in large doses.


Rheumatic and peripheral blood circulation disorders (hands, feet, legs)

  • Compress. Soak the compresses with the lukewarm (wounds) or hot (rheumatism, circulation) basic decoction and apply, if necessary, to the parts to be treated. You can also use a solution containing 6% to 10% essential oil diluted in vegetable oil.
  • Lotion to rub. Pour a few drops (2%) of essential oil in 45% alcohol (rheumatism, topical antiseptic) or in vegetable oil (muscle pain, circulation problems).
  • Fortifying bath to combat rheumatism and fatigue as well as to stimulate circulation. Add 1 liter of the basic decoction to the bath water or 10 drops of essential oil mixed with a little liquid soap. Best done in the morning, as this bath is stimulating and could interfere with sleep.
  • Commercial preparations: lotions, ointments, gels or ointments usually containing 6% to 10% essential oil of rosemary.


  • Use a blend of essential oils including rosemary (114 mg), thyme (88 mg), lavender (108 mg), cedarwood (94 mg) combined with grapeseed oils (20 ml) and jojoba (3 ml). This mixture should be applied for 2 minutes on the scalp using a warm towel to facilitate absorption.


Rosemary is harmless when consumed with food or as an oral, topical, or inhalation medication at doses reported in studies. On the other hand, oral consumption of undiluted rosemary oil can be dangerous.


  • Some of the constituents of rosemary have a convulsive effect and 3 cases of epileptic seizures linked to excessive consumption of rosemary have been reported.


  • Young children.
  • Pregnant women. Rosemary could affect the uterus, causing a miscarriage.
  • Some people with hepatic hypersensitivity to rosemary verbenone.

Side effects

  • Taking large amounts of rosemary essential oil can cause stomach or intestinal irritation, allergic and skin reactions, and even kidney damage.
  • Several cases of contact dermatitis associated with rosemary or with products containing extracts have been reported34-39. Caution should therefore be exercised in people with sensitive skin. On the other hand, the results of a trial indicate that creams based on rosemary extract have succeeded in preventing contact dermatitis caused by a component of soap (sodium lauryl sulfate)40.


With food

  • In a human trial, rosemary extract slightly reduced the absorption of iron from plant-based foods (non-heme iron).

With plants or supplements

  • Rosemary could increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people consuming plants with anticoagulant properties (examples: ginkgo biloba or Panax ginseng, garlic, ginger extracts).

With medication

  • Results of a trial in rats indicate that the effects of the aqueous extract of rosemary could, theoretically, add to those of diuretics. For this reason, it may interfere with lithium therapy. However, there have been no clinical reports of such interactions in humans.
  • Rosemary contains salicylate, a chemical very similar to aspirin. It could therefore increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people taking aspirin or other blood thinners.
  • Rosemary may slow the elimination of certain drugs that are metabolized by enzymes in the liver, which may increase the risk of their side effects.


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