This is another invaluable contribution of the mint family and contains white needle like leaves which are extremely fragrant in nature. Rosemary or Rosmarinus officinalis belongs to the botanical family of Laminaceae and the botanical order of Lamiales.
The Mediterranean region is where it is natively found.
Rosemary derives its name from the Latin dictionary from the words ros or dew and marinus or sea, thus the combination of the same culminates into rosemary or dew of the sea!
The Greek also refer to it as Anthos or flower and it is historically significant to them.
An ancient myth says that the Virgin Mary had spread her cloak over the white flowers of the rosemary plant while she was resting and the same flowers magically turned blue, thus the plant also came to be known as Rose of Mary and has ever since been considered sacred by the Greeks, Romans and the Egyptians.
Chemical Constituents of Rosemary
Rosemary oil is obtained from the leaves and flowers which are picked freshly and crushed. It has a very characteristic odor which is aromatic and sweet in nature. The same is used as an important component in various perfumes and other cosmetics.
Phytochemicals form a major component of the oil extract and the major components include camphor, rosmarinic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, carnasol and carnosic acid.
Owing to the high concentration of camphor in the oil, it is highly volatile and inflammable and thus needs to be stored carefully. Also owing to the concentration of other adulterants the solution has to pass through many layers of filtration and micro filtration so as to remove the same and obtain the purest form of oil that can be made available.
Uses of Rosemary
Rosemary oil is now used as an essential component both in the culinary as well as medical field. Over the years, research and an understanding into its chemical components has given us a deeper understanding of its components and how the same act on various parts of the body.
Historically, the plant has always been considered sacred to the Europeans who use it for ceremonial as well as for worship and other purposes.
From the culinary point of view, the leaves of the rosemary plant are used commonly as ingredients especially in the Mediterranean cuisine owing to its astringent taste and its property of infusing the same aroma into food. The leaves are commonly added into non vegetarian dishes especially those that contain pork, turkey and chicken.
Rosemary leaves are also added to vegetable preparations and help enhance the flavor of the same.
In addition, the oil maybe added to charcoal used for purposes of roasting and barbecue to give the meat its distinct aroma.
Recent studies have shown that rosemary is extremely rich in omega 3 fatty acids and has an abundant quantity of the same, but apart from this, its has no other major nutritional benefit or value.
Cosmetically, rosemary oil is used in soaps, shampoo and other toiletries so as to enhance their aroma and also benefit the skin as it has a beneficial action on the same.
Rosemary also helps maintain healthy hair and promotes the regrowth of the same and thus the oil is also applied to the scalp and massaged to obtain better results in cases of hair fall and balding.
Medically, studies have shown that rosemary helps in improving the perception as it helps with clarity of mind.
It is also used in cases of coughs and colds and is known to help relieve headaches.
Studies have shown that it has a positive action on the nerves and helps with activating the cerebellar activity of the brain, thereby improving the capacity to learn and also improving memory.
Application of rosemary oil in females is known to help control vaginal infections and maintain the hygiene of the same.
A study in 2007 showed that rosemary was useful in building and improving the overall immunity of the body as it improved the antioxidant content of the blood within the body, thereby helping fight infections.
Rosemary oil also has the ability to help relieve pain and is used a a local application in cases of bruises and injuries. It is also used in baths and massages owing to the same properties.
The science of aromatherapy makes use of rosemary oil as the inhalation of the same is known to benefit and improve perception. It is also known to improve the grasping and perception power thus helping with learning and memorizing.
Thus rosemary is commonly used in this field of alternative medicine and its vapors are directly inhaled or the same is carried out using electrically operated devices that help vapourise the oil and spread over a larger area.
Tea mixed with rosemary is also widely available and is commonly consumed all over the world owing to its known health benefits.
Thus we can understand in detail the importance of the rosemary and how it has multiple uses both in the field of medicine as well as the culinary sciences.