Did You Know…Rosemary a fragrant herb native to the Mediterranean region has many benefits it can reduce stress and anxiety, improve memory, mental performance, concentration–and even have a significant effect on your test-taking ability?
It appears that the ancient Greeks knew something about rosemary herbs that the rest of the world didn’t. Grecian scholars traditionally wore sprigs of rosemary when taking tests because they believed the herb would improve their performance.
Two recent studies prove that the Greeks’ use of rosemary didn’t just stem from a herbal folklore or superstition, but actually has scientific merit.
Both studies–one from the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing in Boca Raton, and the other from the Department of Nursing at Nambu University in Korea–found that rosemary benefits has a significant and measurable positive effect on test takers! That same benefit carries over to any high-stress situation that requires concentration, memory, and cognition.
These studies also corroborate the substantial research showing that inhaling essential oils such as rosemary reduces the anxiety in high-stress situations.
Research Confirms Rosemary Health Benefits
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) grows primarily on the Mediterranean seashore. Fittingly, its name means “dew of the sea.” It’s built quite a reputation as a potent, natural remedy for anxiety.
Throughout history, rosemary benefits over the years include:
• Improve circulation
• Strengthen memory
• Ease muscle pain
• Relieve headaches
• Improve digestion
Modern technology has allowed scientists to explore the mechanisms behind rosemary’s benefits. Evidence shows that rosemary boosts blood flow to the brain, and this improves memory and helps you think more clearly.
It appears that rosemary benefits also include breaking down acetylcholine, a chemical found in the brain. This allows nerve cells to communicate with one another more effectively. Which contributes to enhanced mental acuity, better memory recognition, increased concentration and a calmer disposition.
Much More Than Just a Pleasant Smell
The research done on rosemary deals with pure essential oils–not to be confused with “fragrance” oils. True essential oils confer benefits far beyond their pleasant aromas. The art of using these oils for health and wellness is called aromatherapy.
Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. It is often referred to as “the stress hormone” because it’s secreted in higher levels whenever the body undergoes the “fight or flight” response to stress. High cortisol levels are associated with stress.
Simply inhaling the scent of rosemary, however, has been shown to lower cortisol levels and activate the “relaxation response”. This enables the body’s functions to return to normal after a stressful event, and elevates your mood.
Burning rosemary incense or a sprig of rosemary whenever you encounter “fight or flight” or stress can also help calm the nerves.
In addition to reducing stress and anxiety rosemary benefits have been shown to have positive effects against:
- Respiratory infections
- Stomach cramps
How to Use Rosemary for Medicinal Purposes
There are several different forms of rosemary available, including:
• Dried whole herb
• Dried, powdered extract (in capsules)
• Tinctures, teas, and extracts made from fresh or dried leaves
• Volatile essential oil (for external use only)
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, total daily intake of rosemary for adults should not exceed 4-6 grams of the dried herb.
Because there have been some instances of allergic reactions to rosemary, experts advise you to exercise caution when you begin using it. You might wish to start with a low dose, and gradually increase to the recommended dose according to your tolerance level.
High doses of rosemary can cause a miscarriage, so health practitioners recommend against rosemary supplements for pregnant and nursing women.
However, in any event, the herb is always safe to consume as a flavor enhancer in foods. You can add a teaspoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary to your soups, salads, stews or potato dishes.
Although some wellness guides and publications recommend recipes that call for adding rosemary to boiling water, herbs such as rosemary are actually more powerful when consumed raw.
Here’s how to make a raw rosemary tea:
Take about 2 to 4 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves/sprigs (or 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary). Steep in hot–not boiling–water in a covered vessel for 10 minutes or more.
Strain out the rosemary, and add a bit of stevia or other natural sweetener, if sweetness is desired.
Experts agree that before taking a rosemary supplement, you should make sure it will not interact with any medications (herbal or prescription) you may already be taking.