A member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), rosemary is a fragrant, powerful-smelling herb native to the Mediterranean region, but now grown worldwide for use as a spice and a medicinal herb. The sturdy plant can grow in harsher climates and in rocky, rough terrain, but tends to thrive best in warm, sunny climates. Other herbs in the same family include lavender, thyme, and oregano. It is most commonly used fresh, as well as being used as a dried powdered extract, a whole dried herb, a tea, and an essential oil or extract.

Rosemary is commonly used in cuisine, and although it is an herb, it is treated like a pungent spice. It does not lose its flavor after being cooked, and is popularly used to season soups, vegetables and protein dishes.

Folklore speaks of using rosemary during the colder season, drinking Rosemary tea to help soothe a sore throat, and adding honey to quiet the ills of a cold or flu. Rosemary oil is frequently diffused into the air to help with breathing, and to remove unpleasant odors from the air. During a cold or flu occurrence, rosemary oil can be diluted in a carrier oil and then massaged into the chest.

Many people around the world have used rosemary essential oil for headaches and migraines. It can be used by adding it to a sink of hot water, covering the head with a towel, and breathing in the fumes, as well as diluting the drops in a carrier oil and massaging the temples, scalp and neck to relax tension and stress. Those doing so should remember to use very little, add to a carrier oil, and avoid using it on skin full strength, as it may irritate the skin.

Rosemary is one of the world’s oldest incenses, burned to purify the air. It was a long-known tradition to burn rosemary in sick chambers, and it has been used in French hospitals to help prevent infection.

Findings suggest that compounds absorbed from rosemary aroma affect cognition and subjective state independently through different neurochemical pathways (1). Breathing in fresh or rosemary essential oil seems to increase concentration, clarity and focus, and it is commonly used to help with studying and memory enhancement. Many people get a surge of energy along with the concentration benefits.

Rosemary for the most part is considered safe with little to no side effects. Avoidance should be considered by pregnant or breastfeeding women and those with high blood pressure.