Spring is in the air in western Pennsylvania! One of the very happy surprises I have experienced this spring is to see my rosemary bush alive and well after the winter season. Although a rosemary bush always thrives during the regular growing season in the spot where I plant it, it usually dies in the winter and has to be replaced. I am hoping that this year’s survival success means that it will be strong enough this coming winter to turn into a perennial in my Zone 6b yarden (and, yes, I will cover my bush from now on):
Why is this important to me? My mother ran a K-8 Montessori-type school in the hill country outside of Rome, Italy for several years and had a huge gorgeous rosemary bush outside the kitchen door that contributed to at least one meal a day. In my mind, THAT is always what my own rosemary plant has the potential to become. In the meantime, I want to tell you why rosemary – fresh or dried if available, and year-round in essential oil form – deserves an honored place in every household.
WHAT IS ROSEMARY?
Rosemary is a member of the mint family with an appearance very much like its mint cousin lavender but with darker, more thickly clustered leaves. The essential oil is steam distilled from the plant when it is in flower. It has been revered as sacred by many civilizations and used as a fumigant to drive away evil spirits and to protect against plague and infectious illnesses. It has a delicious taste, an enchanting aroma, and is a powerful support to the immune, respiratory, and nervous systems.
If you have ever baked sweet or savory items (scones and shortbread, in particular) with lavender, know that you can use the rosemary leaves in the same way with great success. Rosemary leaves can also be used alone or with black, green, or white tea or with other herbals to make teas. But my favorite use by far is as an herb to season rich red meats like lamb. It pairs well with fish, especially when you are also using fresh lemon juice. My hint is to chop the leaves very fine before adding to any dish or leave the sprig whole for decoration and a lighter flavor influence. Otherwise, the needles can be difficult to chew and digest easily. And don’t eat the stems. By the way, Rosemary essential oil can be used with much success in all types of cooked, baked, and raw dishes and in beverages.
For more hints on using fresh and dried rosemary in cooking, start with:
For some ideas on using rosemary essential oil in the kitchen, try these links. As always, feel free to ask me for ingredient swap suggestions:
Rosemary has a medium intensity aroma, and the essential oil can be used liberally in DIY sprays, colognes, perfumes, hair and beard balms, and other types of blends. Both the leaves and the oil can be wonderful additions to homemade soaps. The scent is herbaceous, strong, and camphorous with woody balsamic and evergreen undertones. It blends especially well with basil, frankincense, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and marjoram. Absolutely irresistible.
Aromatherapy using Rosemary can take the emotional state from confused to open-minded and mentally clear, and Rosemary is considered the Oil of Knowledge and Transition. In this context, consider pairing it with Dill, Lemon, Peppermint, and/or Zendocrine Detoxification Blend. The emotional effects of Rosemary essential oil can be experienced whether it is applied aromatically, topically, or internally. Memory and focus are both very well supported by Rosemary in children and adults.
Rosemary essential oil has been shown to have properties including: analgesic, antibacterial, anticancer, anticatarrhal, antifungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, expectorant, neurotonic, and stimulant. It is refreshing, cooling, and clearing (remember, it’s a mint).
According to WebMD (https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-154/rosemary),
Rosemary is used for digestion problems, including heartburn, intestinal gas (flatulence), and loss of appetite. It is also used for liver and gallbladder complaints, gout, cough, headache, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, stress, depression, improving memory in healthy adults, reducing age-related memory loss, improving energy and mental tiredness, opioid withdrawal symptoms, sunburn protection, and diabetic kidney disease.
Rosemary is applied to the skin for preventing and treating baldness. (Although it’s not clear how rosemary works for hair loss, applying it to the scalp irritates the skin and increases blood circulation) It is also used for treating circulation problems, toothache, gum disease* (gingivitis), a skin condition called eczema, muscle pain, pain along the sciatic nerve, and chest wall pain. It is also used for wound healing, in bath therapy (balneotherapy), and as an insect repellent.
I can add that there are literally dozens of other uses from adenoids to worms! The chemotype of Rosemary is said to be best used to support the body in the presence of pulmonary congestion, slow elimination, candida, chronic fatigue, and infections (especially staph and strep).
My favorite unexpected uses are:
to counter jet lag (apply the oil under the nose, on the back of the neck, or diffuse), and to get rid of spider mites on plants (mix 2-4 drops in a mister bottle with filtered water and spray on all parts of the plant (including the undersides of all leaves).
Rosemary essential oil is used in a number of doTERRA essential oil blends, including: OnGuard Protective Blend (for immune support), PastTense Tension Blend, Thinker (Kids Collection), and Zendocrine Detoxifying Blend (as mentioned above). I especially appreciate the OnGuard blend and use it daily in several forms.
*Consider including Rosemary in your oral health regimen. Here is my testimony: https://annebacher.wordpress.com/2018/12/02/wild-orange-clove-cinnamon-eucalyptus-and-rosemary/ (OnGuard)
In most circumstances, Rosemary can be applied to the skin neat or in a 1:1 dilution with a preferred pure carrier oil. For ingestion as a dietary supplement, dilute 1 drop of the oil in 1 teaspoon (5ml) of honey or in 4 ounces of beverage. Some exceptions to these general usage recommendations are as follows:
Pregnancy, breast-feeding, and young children: Rosemary is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts. Rosemary might stimulate menstruation or affect the uterus, causing a miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of applying rosemary to the skin during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, it’s best to avoid fresh or dried rosemary in amounts larger than food amounts and to avoid the essential oil form altogether.
If you are breast-feeding, also steer clear of rosemary in medicinal amounts. Not enough is known about what effects it might have on the nursing infant.
Children under the age of 6 should not take Rosemary internally in its essential oil form.
Aspirin allergy. Rosemary contains a chemical that is very similar to aspirin. This chemical, known a as salicylate, may cause a reaction in people who are allergic to aspirin.
Bleeding disorders: Rosemary might increase the risk of bleeding and bruising in people with bleeding disorders. Use cautiously.
Other disorders: Do not use Rosemary in its essential oil form for those with seizure disorders like epilepsy or for those with high blood pressure.
BONUS DIY RECIPE – Invigorating Fizzing Bath Bombs
2/3 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup Epsom salt
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons coconut oil
8 drops Peppermint essential oil
4 drops Grapefruit essential oil
3 drops Rosemary essential oil
Spray bottle with water
Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients slowly while stirring with a whisk. Knead the mixture until it has the texture of mildly wet sand and clumps together when pressed. If it is too dry, moisten it slightly with a mist from the spray bottle, one spritz at a time, just until it holds together.
Form into balls or mold in small silicone soap or candy molds or a mini muffin tin (lined with paper muffin cups). Allow to dry for 1-2 hours, thenremove from molds or tins, and allow to dry overnight.
To use, place a bath bomb in warm bathwater, sit back, and ENJOY!
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