Rosemary is an herb that’s most likely found its way into your kitchen by now. With an unmistakable taste and flavor, it’s the condiment of choice for many different dishes. However, rosemary isn’t just about spicing up food: it can make an essential oil with tested health benefits.
While there are many different articles that list endless benefits for rosemary essential oils, not all of them are backed by scientific evidence. In the following article, you can read about the scientific evidence that supports some of the claims and benefits related to using rosemary oil.
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What Is Rosemary?
Rosemary is a herb native to the Mediterranean region. It’s easy to recognize thanks to its distinctive scent, as well as its needle-like leaves. It is often used as a spice to enrich the flavour of pork-based dishes and steaks, but also a great condiment for soups and stews.
The fresh leaves can be consumed, but you can also buy it in the form of a powder. The leaves are also an ingredients for liquid extract, can be used to make tea, or rosemary essential oils.
Benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil
Essential oil is obtained by extracting the essence of the plant’s major components. This is not a fatty oil, but rather one that has proven to have great medical and therapeutic benefits. While still subject for research, rosemary essentials does have traditional uses, and we’re going to name the most popular ones.
#1: Hair growth
Androgenetic alopecia is a condition that affects both men and women, and which leads to progressive hair loss. Rosemary oil can treat this problem by preventing damage done to the hair follicles.
The results of study have revealed that men who applied rosemary essential oil on their scalp over a duration of six months had their hair thickness increase as much as those who used a treatment based on Rogaine, a popular remedy for hair growth. Even more, it seems that rosemary is less likely to cause scalp itching, which is a side effect of minoxidil (the primary substance found in Rogaine).
Another study has shown that rosemary oil helps fight patchy hair loss in young adults. The treatment plan observed how the study participants used rosemary oil on their scalps over a duration of seven months. At the end of the study, 44 percent of the participants had improved hair loss compared to the control group that used neutral oils.
There are different ways in which you can use rosemary essential oil as part of your hair growth treatment:
- You can apply the product directly on your scalp. That means pouring about five drops of essential oil directly on your scalp after taking a shower. If you have a sensitive scalp, consider mixing it with carrier oil (coconut, for example). You can either rinse your hair after five to ten minutes, if you feel the scent is too strong, but there are people who prefer not to rinse.
- You can also add rosemary essential oil to the shampoo that you normally use, regardless whether it’s store-bought or homemade. Make sure that you don’t add more than five drop per product ounce, because this one is concentrated and could cause a rash. Alternatively, you can add two drops of oil to your hair product right before you apply it on your scalp.
#2: Bug repellant
Did you know that rosemary oil can actually help protect your garden from insects that can damage the crops? In fact, rosemary oil can be quite a good alternative to chemically-based pesticides that end up on the herbs and vegetables that you consume.
Could this mean that rosemary oil can repel bugs that tend to get to close to humans, as well? That’s right; you can use this wonder-product to keep blood-sucking critters away from your skin.
In fact, a study has revealed that, when compared to 11 other essential oils, rosemary oil was the most efficient in keeping away the mosquito that’s known for spreading the infamous Zika virus.
#3: Stress & anxiety relief
A lot of people consider that essential oils are all good in relieving stress and anxiety because they are used in aromatherapy practices. In reality, not all of them are good for this purpose, but rosemary oil is one of the good ones.
An experiment conducted on nursing students has revealed the fact that they were able to decrease their pulse with about nine percent when breathing rosemary essential oil before and during a test. Since a higher pulse can be a reflection on stress, rosemary oil is now considered a natural stress reliever.
According to another study, 22 young adults smelled rosemary oil, and had their saliva examined afterwards. It turns out that the cortisol levels in their saliva were 23 percent lower compared to those who smelled another compound. Also known as the “stress hormone” cortisol can lead to insomnia and mood swings when its levels are elevated.
It seems that rosemary oil can also help relieve fatigue, leaving people feeling more energized after sniffing it. This happens because there is a change in brain waves. Additionally, rosemary oil can also help improve blood pressure and increase heart rate.
One study showed that people who apply diluted rosemary oil on their skin ended up feeling more energetic, cheerful, and alert compared to those who used a placebo oil. However, the studies are still inconclusive.
#4: Joint inflammation
Some scientific evidence suggests that rosemary oil may help with tissue inflammation. During a study, participants with rheumatoid arthritis were massaged for 15 minutes three times per week using rosemary oil. Two weeks later, their inflammation has decreased by 50 percent, compared to a 12 percent decrease in the group that was not using rosemary oil.
For those of you unfamiliar with this condition, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes a person’s immune system to attack tissues, thus leading to inflammation. Typically, those who have rheumatoid arthritis experience inflammation in the knees, but also in other joints.
#5: Brain improvement
For a very long time, people have believed that rosemary has a positive impact on one’s memory capacity. It turns out that inhaling rosemary essential oil can prevent acetylcholine breakdown, which is a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for memory and concentration.
During an experiment, 20 young adults were given math problems while they inhaled rosemary oil dispersed into the air through a diffuser. Their speed and accuracy increased with the duration of the oil diffusion.
In another test, students that inhaled rosemary oil felt it was easier to concentrate during a test compared to those who didn’t inhale any oils or lavender ones.
#6: Blood circulation
When you have poor blood circulation, your extremities are colder despite the warm temperatures in the room or outdoors. A woman with Raynaud’s disease experimented by rubbing rosemary oil on her extremities. Thermal imaging confirmed that her fingers were warmer after having done so, compared to using neutral oils in the same way.
Therefore, it is believed that rosemary oil can help expand your blood vessels, causing your blood to increase in temperature and reach your extremities faster. However, more research is needed on this topic.
How to Use Rosemary Essential Oil
There are normally two ways for using rosemary essential oil: you can either apply it topically, or inhale it. Keep in mind that this oil is highly concentrated, so it’s not recommended using more than a few drops. Steer clear of any advice that suggests ingesting rosemary essential oil, as there are no studies to back up the so-called benefits of this.
As far as inhaling rosemary essential oil is concerned, there are three ways for you to do this:
- Remove the cap from the essential oil bottle and breathe in.
- Put a few drops of rosemary oil on a tissue and hold it in front of your face.
- Put a few drops into your aromatherapy diffuser and enjoy the fragrance dispersed into the room.
Rosemary essential oil can also be absorbed into your body when you put in on your skin. However, when you’re dealing with an essential oil that’s highly concentrated, you might want to dilute with neutral carrier oil before application. Strong oils can irritate the skin.
Once the oil is diluted, you can apply it on a targeted body part, and then gently rub it in, so that the body can absorb it properly.
As we’ve mentioned before, rosemary oil is still being studied, as scientists have reasons to believe that there are many other uses for this product. For instance, because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it is assumed that rosemary oil can help fight cancer cells.
Different studies suggest that this product can stimulate bile release, which could improve the way the body digests fat, thus leading to a more healthy livers. It is also believed that rosemary essential oil can make certain antibiotics more effective, which means that people could end up taking lower doses of certain drugs.
But even if these theories prove wrong, there are still so many tested and approved benefits of using rosemary essential oil.