Rosemary is a small, fragrant evergreen shrub. The rosemary plant originated in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. However, it now grows in North America as well. The leaf is used in herbal medicine.
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Refer to label instructions
Rosemary is traditionally reputed to have a positive effect on atherosclerosis.
Butcher’s broom and rosemary are not well studied as being circulatory stimulants but are traditionally reputed to have such an action that might impact atherosclerosis. While butcher’s broom is useful for various diseases of veins, it also exerts effects that are protective for arteries.4
Refer to label instructions
Volatile oils from rosemary have been shown to have significant antifungal action. Doctors recommend enteric-coated capsules, which break down in the intestines instead of the stomach.
Volatile oils from oregano, thyme, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary have all demonstrated antifungal action in test tube studies.5 A recent study compared the anti-Candida effect of oregano oil to that of caprylic acid.6 The results indicated that oregano oil is over 100 times more potent than caprylic acid, against Candida. Since the volatile oils are quickly absorbed and associated with inducing heartburn, they must be taken in coated capsules, so they do not break down in the stomach but instead are delivered to the small and large intestine. This process is known as “enteric coating.” Some doctors recommend using 0.2 to 0.4 ml of enteric-coated peppermint and/or oregano oil supplements three times per day 20 minutes before meals. However, none of these volatile oils has been studied for their anti-Candida effect in humans.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions
Rosemary is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.
Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.7
There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.8 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.9 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.10 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.
Refer to label instructions
Rosemary is an herb that directly attack microbes.
Rosemary oil has been used historically to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Applied to painful joints, it may help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Topical applications of several botanical oils are approved by the German government for relieving symptoms of RA.11 These include primarily cajeput (Melaleuca leucodendra) oil, camphor oil, eucalyptus oil, fir (Abies alba and Picea abies) needle oil, pine (Pinus spp.) needle oil, and rosemary oil. A few drops of oil or more can be applied to painful joints several times a day as needed. Most of these topical applications are based on historical use and are lacking modern clinical trials to support their effectiveness in treating RA.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Throughout history, rosemary was used to preserve meats.1 It has long played a role in European herbalism and popular folklore. Sprigs of rosemary were considered a love charm, a sign of remembrance, and a way to ward off the plague. Rosemary was used by herbalists as a tonic for the elderly and to help with indigestion.2 In ancient China, rosemary was used for headaches and topically for baldness.3
How It Works
How It Works
A number of constituents have shown activity in the test tube. The volatile oil, including eucalyptol (cineole), is considered to have potent antibacterial effects12 and to relax smooth muscles in the lungs.13 Rosmarinic acid has antioxidant activity14 and another ingredient of rosemary, known as carnosol, inhibits cancer formation in animal studies.15 No human studies have confirmed rosemary’s use for these conditions.
How to Use It
The German Commission E monograph suggests 3/4 to 1-1/4 tsp (4 to 6 grams) of rosemary leaf per day.16 A tea can be prepared by adding 2 teaspoons (10 grams) of herb to 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water and allowing it to steep in a covered container for 10 to 15 minutes. This tea can be taken several times per day. Rosemary tincture, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2 to 5 ml) three times per day, may also be used. The concentrated volatile oil should not be taken internally.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.
Interactions with Medicines
As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
There is no evidence to indicate that intermittent intake of moderate amounts of rosemary poses any threat during breast-feeding. However, internal intake of the herb and oil should be avoided during pregnancy because the oil may act as an abortifacient (an agent that may induce an abortion).17
An extract of rosemary taken with a meal by healthy women inhibited the absorption of non-heme iron (e.g., the form of iron in plant foods) by 15%.18 Frequent use of rosemary could, in theory, promote the development of iron deficiency in susceptible individuals.
3. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 446-8.
4. Felix W, Schmidt Y, Nieberle J. Protective effect of Ruscus extract against injury of vascular endothelium and vascular smooth muscle caused by ethracrynic acid. Int Angiol 1983;3:77.
5. Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. In-vitro activity of essential oils, in particular Melaleuca alternafolia (tea tree) oil and tea tree oil products, against Candida albicans. J Antimicrobial Chemother 1998;42:591-5.
6. Stiles JC, Sparks W, Ronzio RA. The inhibition of Candida albicans by oregano. J Applied Nutr 1995;47:96-102.
7. Forster HB, Niklas H, Lutz S. Antispasmodic effects of some medicinal plants. Planta Med 1980;40:303-19.
8. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425-6.
10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 198.
11. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al., eds. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 430-1.
12. Huhtanen C. Inhibition of Clostridium botulinum by spice extract and aliphatic alcohols. J Food Protect 1980;43:195-6.
13. Aqel MB. Relaxant effect of the volatile oil of Rosmarinus officinalis on tracheal smooth muscle. J Ethnopharmacol 1991;33:57-62.
14. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 446-8.
15. Singletary K, MacDonald C, Wallig M. Inhibition by rosemary and carnosol of 7,12-dimethyl-benz [a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced rat mammary tumorigenesis and in vivo DMBA-DNA adduct formation. Cancer Lett 1996;104:43-8.
16. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al., eds. The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 197.
17. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicine: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 229-30.
18. Samman S, Sandstrom B, Toft MB, et al. Green tea or rosemary extract added to foods reduces nonheme-iron absorption. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73:607-12.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.