Do You Know These Rosemary Uses Beyond Cooking?

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TaleDo you like to use rosemary in cooking? Well, rosemary is a delicious, aromatic herb, but it also has many historical uses beyond making food taste good. In this episode, join Julie as she discusses rosemary uses beyond cooking.Do you like to use rosemary in cooking? Well, rosemary is a delicious, aromatic herb, but it also has many historical uses beyond making food taste good. In this episode, join Julie as she discusses rosemary uses beyond cooking.

Rosemary Uses in History

Rosmarinus officinalis, but now called Salvia rosmarinus. The scientific name, Rosmarinus, comes from the Greek ‘ros’ and ‘marinus’ (“dew of the sea”), named for its origins in the Mediterranean. This herb was known even to the Egyptians as dried sprigs were found in their tombs.

There are many legends around this woody herb. One holds that when Mary and Joseph fled Egypt to return to Israel, they stopped near a rosemary bush. When she threw her blue cape over the white flowers of the bush, the flowers turned blue. Another bit of Christian folklore claims that rosemary can live up to thirty-three years. That’s not far from the truth. However, the reason for the claim has to do with Jesus’ life and death, since the plant has that association with Christ and Mary.

Some other rosemary uses included warding off evil. For example, in Italy and Spain, it was used as a protection from witches and general evil. In England, it was burned in the homes of those who had died from illness and placed on coffins before the grave was filled with dirt. Sleeping with a sprig under one’s pillow supposedly would ward off bad dreams and hung outside, was supposed to ward off evil spirits.

Learn more historic rosemary uses on the podcast!

Medieval Rosemary Uses

Not all people of the Middle Ages used rosemary for superstitious purposes. After all, a list of rosemary uses can be found in the Zibaldone da Canal, an early 14th-century book by a Venetian merchant. It lists 23 uses and preparations of rosemary. These include the following: for all illnesses within the body, as a face and hair cleanser, to kill worms, to get rid of rheumatism, protect against nightmares, “prolong your youth and strengthen your limbs,” protect you from serpents and scorpions, get rid of diarrhea, treat gout, address mental issues, and repel insects from eating your clothes.

There are more rosemary uses on the podcast!

Growing Rosemary

Woody perennial with needle like leaves and small blue flowers. This shrubby herb is a slow grower at first. The seeds can take weeks to sprout, and the young plants grow slowly, not flowering until the second year. However, this plant can live 30 years, so careful gardening in the early years is well worth the effort. Rosemary likes full sun and dry, sandy soil. Wet winter soil will kill the plant, even though it is hardy in mild, 20F winters. Some varieties tolerate 10F winters. Make sure the soil drains well and you’ll keep your bushy rosemary plant happy.

Modern Research and Rosemary Uses

Today, people use both the herb and the essential oil. The herb is popular for meats and stews and people sometimes infuse it into olive oil as a nice aromatic drizzle for salads. The essential oil is frequently adulterated, so take care when trying to find a reputable source. There are three main chemotypes of rosemary essential oil. These are the camphor type—which contains terpene ketones, terpene oxides, and terpene hydrocarbons; the cineole type—which contains cineole and terpene hydrocarbons; and the verbenone type—which contains the ketone, verbenone, cineole, and terpene hydrocarbons.

Rosemary essential oil can help improve circulation and respiratory issues. It may also be helpful in cases of hair loss and acne. The traditional rosemary uses for memory and nervous tension continue, particularly as that tension affects digestion. The herb has astringent, diaphoretic, and stimulant properties. Nutritionally, it contains significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, folate, calcium, iron, manganese, and magnesium.


Pregnant women and children under age 10 should not use this oil.

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