Rosemary essential oil is one of the most popular and powerful oils on the market. It is extracted from the herb rosemary also called Rosmarinus officinalis.
For thousands of years, rosemary has been used to soothe digestive issues, improve memory, and relieve muscle pains and aches. Today, rosemary oil has become a popular ingredient for hair and skin products due to its antiseptic properties. This article details the benefits of rosemary essential oil as well as how to use it.
Facts about Rosemary Essential Oil
The name rosemary comes from the Latin words ros, which means “mist” or “dew,” and marinus, which means “sea.” Wild rosemary often grows on sea cliffs in France, Greece, Spain, and Italy, and is widely used in the Mediterranean region cusine.
Rosemary belongs to the mint family, along with oregano, basil, and lavender. Rosemary actually looks a lot like lavender with leaves like flat pine needles. Both have a woody, evergreen, and citrus-like fragrance that has become a pleasant feature in gardens and kitchens around the world.
Rosemary has an antioxidant ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value of 33,000, which is the same free radical-fighting power as goji berries. Carnosol is a phenolic diterpene found in rosemary that is responsible for its antioxidant abilities.
Carnosol has had positive results against leukemia, prostate cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. Carnosol can also improve prostate health and hair growth through the reduction of DHT (dihyroxytestosterone), reduce inflammation, heal nerve tissue, and balance estrogen and androgen levels in the body.
There are somewhere between 400 and 500 phytochemicals in rosemary essential oil, and some of its major constituents include camphor, beta-pinene, alpha-pinene, 1,8-Cineole, borneol, camphene, limonene, betulinic, rosmanol, carnosol, carnosic acid, and rosmarinic acid.
5 Health Benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil
In the 16th century, rosemary was used to kill germs as a disinfectant. Rosemary oil contains expectorant, antioxidant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-infection, anti-catarrhal, anti-cancer, antibacterial, and analgesic properties. Rosemary essential oil may have the potential to increase circulation, boost immunity, treat headaches, relieve coughs, cold and flu, prevent Alzheimer’s disease and mental fatigue, and treat indigestion symptoms.
Here are five other reported health benefits of rosemary essential oil:
1. Relieves Stress and Reduces Cortisol
Rosemary essential oil may be perfect for stress relief and anxiety. In a study published in 2007 in the journal Psychiatry Research, Japanese researchers found that five minutes of breathing in lavender and rosemary would help reduce salivary cortisol levels in 22 healthy volunteers. The researchers also found the antioxidants in both oils would enhance the body’s ability to protect against free radical scavenging oxidative stress. Excess cortisol can lead to oxidative stress, high blood pressure, weight gain, and heart disease. A 2009 study published in the journal Holistic Nursing Practice also found that rosemary oil and lavender oil would reduce anxiety for nursing students taking tests.
2. Improves Memory
Ancient Greek students wore garlands of rosemary on their heads when studying to improve memory, so rosemary has long been revered for its ability to treat mental fatigue and improve focus, alertness, and mental clarity. A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 2003 found that the aroma of rosemary can significantly improve memory and alertness in healthy adults. Another study published in the journal Psychogeriatrics in 2009 concluded that the scent of rosemary essential oil has potential for improving cognitive function, especially in Alzheimer’s disease patients.
3. Benefits Hair Growth
When rosemary essential oil is applied to the scalp, it may help stimulate hair growth, prevent baldness, and fight dandruff. A study published in the journal SkinMed in 2015 found that after six months of use, rosemary essential oil is equal in effectiveness to the common hair loss drug minoxidil.
4. Promotes Gallbladder Function and Liver Detoxification
Rosemary is said to be a fantastic detoxifier, and traditionally has been used for gastrointestinal issues. In India, studies have found that rosemary enhances bile flow, which is necessary for detoxification and fat metabolism. Rosemary may also lower plasma liver enzymes. Also, by enhancing bile performance, this promotes proper peristaltic gallbladder activity. This process boosts nutrient absorption and helps prevent and reverse toxic overload in the digestive organs. For improving gallbladder function, combine three drops of rosemary oil with a quarter teaspoon of coconut oil and rub it over the gallbladder area twice daily.
5. Reduces Inflammation
In a 2000 study, Brazilian researchers found that the 1,8-Cineole in rosemary essential oil has anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties. Another Iranian animal study from 2011 found that rosemary essential oil and its anti-inflammatory properties can remedy against inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis. The scientific advisory board, called the German Commission E, has approved rosemary essential oil for treating arthritis and muscle pain. Rosemary oil may also help get rid of acne, stretch marks, and cellulite.
Hot to Buy and Use Rosemary Essential Oil—Plus 5 Recipes
It is very important to understand that not all essential oils are created equal. In fact, many are synthetic and even worthless for your health. When purchasing essential oils, look for 100% pure, therapeutic-grade oils from reputable and trustworthy companies such as Young Living, doTERRA, or Zayat Aroma.
Rosemary essential oil is safe and effective to use in a variety of ways. The following are five do-it-yourself rosemary essential oil recipes.
1. Focus Essential Oil Blend
This combination of essential oils is great for maintaining focus, stimulating the central nervous system, and improving poor concentration.
- 2 tbsp. of sunflower oil
- 6 drops of rosemary essential oil
- 2 drops of clove essential oil
- 2 drops of peppermint essential oil
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a sterilized, dark-glass bottle with a cap or dropper for ready use.
- Store in a dark and cool place. It will keep for around three months.
2. Lymphatic-Stimulating Rosemary Massage Blend
Certain essential oils like rosemary oil can stimulate and improve circulation by increasing blood flow. As a result, this stimulates the flow of the lymphatic system.
- 2 tbsp. of almond oil
- 3 drops of rosemary essential oil
- 3 drops of thyme essential oil
- 3 drops of black pepper essential oil
- 3 drops of ginger essential oil
- 1 drop of clove essential oil
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a sterilized, dark-glass bottle with a cap or dropper.
- Gently massage the oil into the body and allow the oil to absorb into the skin before you get dressed. Store the remaining oil in a dark and cool place. It will keep for about three months.
3. Headache Massage Rosemary Blend
Rosemary essential oil is great for treating tension headaches while eucalyptus soothes headaches caused by allergic reactions or sinus congestion.
- 2 tbsp. of almond oil
- 5 drops of rosemary essential oil
- 3 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 2 drops of lavender essential oil
- 2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
- Combine all ingredients together in a bowl, transfer to a sterilized, dark-glass bottle, and seal with a dropper or cap.
- Massage the blend gently into the temples in a circular motion and store the remaining blend in a dark and cool place. It will keep for about three months.
4. Hair and Scalp Rosemary Tonic
Rosemary essential oil is great for skin and scalp conditions, especially dandruff and hair loss. The herbal oil combination provides an invigorating hair tonic that helps hair to feel glossy and soft. It also relieves a dry and flaking scalp.
- 1 tbsp. of dried nettle leaves
- 200 ml of water for infusion
- 1 tsp. of cider vinegar
- 1 drop of sage essential oil
- 1 drop of lemon essential oil
- 1 drop of rosemary essential oil
- 1 drop of cedarwood essential oil
- Make an infusion by steeping the nettles for 10 minutes in a teapot with of boiling water.
- Strain out the nettles.
- Add the essential oils and the cider vinegar, and pour the mixture into a sterilized glass bottle. The blend will keep for up to three months.
5. Prostate Massage Rosemary Blend
Antibacterial rosemary blends well with myrrh and frankincense. Massaging the genital area will improve prostate health and stimulate circulation.
- 1 tbsp. of almond essential oil
- 1 drop of rosemary essential oil
- 1 drop of myrrh essential oil
- 1 drop of frankincense essential oil
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a sterilized, dark-glass bottle, and seal with a dropper or cap.
- Gently massage to the area below and around the genitals. Allow the blend to absorb into the skin before you get dressed.
- Store the rest of oil in a dark and cool place. It will keep for about a three-month period.
Rosemary Oil Precautions
In summary, rosemary essential oil benefits hair growth, memory, cortisol levels, gallbladder function, and liver detoxification. It is also fairly easy to achieve health benefits with do-it-yourself rosemary essential oil blend recipes.
However, there are precautions to take with rosemary essential oil. It should never be consumed orally or used on children under four years of age. It is best to consult with your natural healthcare practitioner before using essential oils with children of any age. Pregnant women should also avoid its use as the oil may lead to miscarriage or cause harm to the fetus.
Essential Oils: All-natural remedies and recipes for your mind, body, and home (New York: Penguin Random House, 2016), 175, 202, 223, 227, 242.
“Rosemary Oil Uses and Benefits,” Dr. Axe; https://draxe.com/rosemary-oil-uses-benefits/, last accessed March 30, 2017.
“11 Amazing Benefits of Rosemary Oil,” Organic Facts; https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-rosemary-oil.html, last accessed March 30, 2017.
“Refreshing Rosemary Oil,” Mercola, June 16, 2016; http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/rosemary-oil.aspx, last accessed March 30, 2017.
Bollinger, T., “Do You Know These 6 Health Benefits & Uses for Rosemary Essential Oil?” The Truth About Cancer; https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/rosemary-essential-oil/, last accessed March 30, 2017.
Leonard, J., “21 Magical Uses & Benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil,” Natural Living Ideas, Oct. 13, 2015; http://www.naturallivingideas.com/rosemary-essential-oil-benefits-uses/, last accessed March 30, 2017.
“Rosemary,” University of Maryland Medical Center; https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/rosemary, last accessed March 30, 2017.
Moss, M., et al., “Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults,” The International Journal of Neuroscience, January 2003; 113(1): 15-38. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12690999.
Jimbo, D., et al., “Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” Psychogeriatrics, December 2009; 9(4): 173-179, doi: 10.1111/j.1479-8301.2009.00299.x.
Atsumi, T., et al., “Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva,” Psychiatry Research, Feb. 28, 2007; 150(1): 89-96, doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2005.12.012.
McCaffrey, R., et al., “The effects of lavender and rosemary essential oils on test-taking anxiety among graduate nursing students,” Holistic Nursing Practice, March to April 2009; 23(2): 88-93, doi: 10.1097/HNP.0b013e3181a110aa.