Rosemary is used for digestion problems, including heartburn, intestinal gas (flatulence), liver and gallbladder complaints, and loss of appetite. It is also used for gout, cough, headache, high blood pressure, and reducing age-related memory loss.
Some women use rosemary for increasing menstrual flow and causing abortions.
Rosemary is used topically (applied to the skin) for preventing and treating baldness; and treating circulation problems, toothache, a skin condition called eczema, and joint or muscle pain such as myalgia, sciatica, and intercostal neuralgia. It is also used for wound healing, in bath therapy (balneotherapy), and as an insect repellent.
Tonic, astringent, diaphoretic, stimulant. Oil of Rosemary has the carminative properties of other volatile oils and is an excellent stomachic and nervine, curing many cases of headache.
It is employed principally, externally, as spiritus Rosmarini, in hair-lotions, for its odor and effect in stimulating the hair-bulbs to renewed activity and preventing premature baldness. An infusion of the dried plant (both leaves and flowers) combined with borax and used when cold, makes one of the best hairwashes known. It forms an effectual remedy for the prevention of scurf and dandruff.
The oil is also used externally as a rubefacient and is added to liniments as a fragrant stimulant. Hungary water, for outward application to renovate the vitality of paralyzed limbs, was first invented for a Queen of Hungary, who was said to have been completely cured by its continued use. It was prepared by putting 1 1/2 lb. of fresh Rosemary tops in full flower into 1 gallon of spirits of wine, this was allowed to stand for four days and then distilled. Hungary water was also considered very efficacious against gout in the hands and feet, being rubbed into them vigorously.
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.
Seizure disorders: Rosemary might make seizure disorders worse. Don’t use it.
The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.
At weddings, it was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride, being first dipped into scented water. Anne of Cleves, we are told, wore such a wreath at her wedding. A Rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribbons of all colors, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year’s gift – allusions to this custom are to be found in Ben Jonson’s plays.
Miss Anne Pratt (Flowers and their Associations) says:
‘But it was not among the herbalists and apothecaries merely that Rosemary had its reputation for peculiar virtues. The celebrated Doctor of Divinity, Roger Hacket, did not disdain to expatiate on its excellencies in the pulpit. In a sermon which he entitles “A Marriage Present,” which was published in 1607, he says: “Speaking of the powers of rosemary, it overtoppeth all the flowers in the garden, boasting man’s rule. It helpeth the brain, strengtheneth the memorie, and is very medicinable for the head. Another property of the rosemary is, it affects the heart. Let this rosmarinus, this flower of men ensigne of your wisdom, love and loyaltie, be carried not only in your hands, but in your hearts and heads.” ‘
In early times, Rosemary was freely cultivated in kitchen gardens and came to represent the dominant influence of the house mistress ‘Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.’
The Treasury of Botany says:
‘There is a vulgar belief in Gloucestershire and other counties, that Rosemary will not grow well unless where the mistress is “master”; and so touchy are some of the lords of creation upon this point, that we have more than once had reason to suspect them of privately injuring a growing rosemary in order to destroy this evidence of their want of authority.’
In place of more costly incense, the ancients used Rosemary in their religious ceremonies. An old French name for it was Incensier.
It was an old custom to burn Rosemary in sick chambers, and in French hospitals it is customary to burn Rosemary with Juniper berries to purify the air and prevent infection. Like Rue, it was placed in the dock of courts of justice, as a preventative from the contagion of gaol-fever. A sprig of Rosemary was carried in the hand at funerals, being distributed to the mourners before they left the house, to be cast on to the coffin when it had been lowered into the grave. In many parts of Wales it is still a custom.
One old legend compares the growth of the plant with the height of the Savior and declares that after thirty-three years it increases in breadth, but never in height.
Preparation and Dosage
Rosemary Wine when taken in small quantities acts as a quieting cordial to a weak heart subject to palpitation, and relieves accompanying dropsy by stimulating the kidneys. It is made by chopping up sprigs of green Rosemary and pouring on them white wine, which is strained off after a few days and is then ready for use. By stimulating the brain and nervous system, it is a good remedy for headaches caused by feeble circulation.
The young tops, leaves and flowers can be made into an infusion, called Rosemary Tea, which, taken warm, is a good remedy for removing headache, colic, colds and nervous diseases, care being taken to prevent the escape of steam during its preparation. It will relieve nervous depression. A conserve, made by beating up the freshly gathered tops with three times their weight of sugar, is said to have the same effect.
A spirit of Rosemary may be used, in doses of 30 drops in water or on sugar, as an antispasmodic.
Rosemary and Coltsfoot leaves are considered good when rubbed together and smoked for asthma and other affections of the throat and lungs.
Rosemary is also one of the ingredients used in the preparation of Eau-de-Cologne.
Oil, 1/2 to 3 drops. Spirit, B.P., 5 to 20 drops.