GENERAL DESCRIPTION A shrubby evergreen bush up to 2 metres high with silvery-green, needle-shaped leaves and pale blue flowers. The whole plant is strongly aromatic.
DISTRIBUTION Native to the Mediterranean region, now cultivated worldwide in California, Russia, Middle East, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Yugoslavia, Morocco, China, etc. The main oil-producing countries are France, Spain and Tunisia.
HERBAL / FOLK TRADITION One of the earliest plants to be used for food, medicine and magic, being regarded as sacred in many civilizations. Springs of rosemary were burnt at shrines in ancient Greece, fumigations were used in the Middle Ages to drive away evil spirits, and to protect against plague and infectious illness.
It has been used for a wide range of complaints including respiratory and circulatory disorders, liver congestion, digestive and nervous complaints, muscular and rheumatic pain, skin and hair problems. It is current in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia as a specific for ‘depressive states with general debility and indications of cardiovascular weakness.’
ACTIONS Analgesic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, astringent, carminative, cephalic, cholagogue, choleretic, cicatrisant, cordial, cytophylactic, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, fungicidal, hepatic, hypertensive, nervine, parasiticide, restorative, rubefacient, stimulant (circulatory, adrenal cortex, hepatobiliary), stomachic, sudorific, tonic (nervous, general), vulnerary.
EXTRACTION Essential oil by steam distillation of the fresh flowering tops or the whole plant.
CHARACTERISTICS A colourless or pale yellow mobile liquid with a strong, fresh, minty-herbaceous scent and a woody-balsamic undertone. Poor quality oils have a strong camphoraceous note. It blends well with olibanum, lavender, lavandin, citronella, oregano, thyme, pine, basil, peppermint, labdanum, elemi, cedarwood, petitgrain, cinnamon and other spice oils.
AROMATHERAPY / HOME USE
SKIN CARE: Acne, dandruff, dermatitis, eczema, greasy hair, insect repellent, promotes hair growth, regulates seborrhoea, scabies, stimulates scalp, lice, varicose veins.
CIRCULATION, MUSCLES AND JOINTS: Arteriosclerosis, fluid retention, gout, muscular pain, palpitations, poor circulation, rheumatism.
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM: Asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough.
DIGESTIVE SYSTEM: Colitis, dyspepsia, flatulence, hepatic disorders, hypercholesterolaemia, jaundice.
GENITO-URINARY: Dysmenorrhoea, leucorrhoea.
IMMUNE SYSTEM: Colds, ‘flu, infections.
NERVOUS SYSTEM: Debility, headaches, hypotension, neuralgia, mental fatigue, nervous exhaustion and stress-related disorders.
OTHER USES Extensively used in soaps, detergents, cosmetics, household sprays and perfumes, especially colognes. Also used as a masking agent. Extensively employed in most major food categories, especially meat products, as well as alcoholic and soft drinks. Serves as a source of natural anti-oxidants.