Rosemary: what health benefits? how to use it in herbal medicine?


Rosemary is a plant well known for its multiple benefits. The use of rosemary is based on an ancestral tradition and knowledge of the mode of action of some of its active ingredients. However, few clinical studies have focused exclusively on it.

What is rosemary?

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an aromatic plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family. Native to the Mediterranean region, it often grows in gardens and vegetable plots, says Shana Sarfati, naturopath and dietitian.

Family : Labiates (or lamiaceae).

Origin of rosemary: Mediterranean countries.

Part(s) of rosemary harvested: leaves and flowers.

Description of rosemary: Rosemary is an aromatic plant with purple flowers that grows spontaneously in the hills around the Mediterranean.

How to recognize this plant?

Rosemary is an easily recognizable fragrant plant.

  • Shape: Rosemary leaves are long, thin and needle-shaped;
  • Color: They are dark green on top and silvery on the bottom;
  • Texture: The leaves are leathery and slightly rough to the touch.
  • Appearance: Rosemary stems are woody, especially at the base, and can become quite thick as the plant ages;
  • Color: They are light brown to dark brown.
  • Color: Rosemary flowers are usually pale blue, but they can also be white or pink;
  • Shape: They are small, tube-shaped, and grouped in clusters in the leaf axils.

Aromatic: Rosemary gives off a very strong and distinct odor when the leaves are rubbed between your fingers. The aroma is often described as fresh, woody and slightly camphorous.

Height: Rosemary can reach between 1 and 2 meters in height, although some dwarf varieties remain smaller.

What are the health benefits of rosemary?

The health benefits of rosemary are numerous.

Improved digestion

“It helps relieve digestive issues such as bloating and cramps,” says Shana Sarfati.

It would also help relieve digestive or intestinal disorders (dyspepsia). The European Scientific Coordination in Phytotherapy (ESCOP) also validates its use for improving biliary and hepatic functions. Dr Jean-Michel Morel, general practitioner and phytotherapist.

Memory stimulation

“It can improve the concentration and the memory », Indicates the naturopath.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

“It contains compounds that help to reduce inflammation and to protect cells against damage.

Strengthening the immune system

“Thanks to his antibacterial and antifungal propertiesrosemary can help prevent certain infections.”

Pain relief

“Used as an essential oil, it can help relieve muscle and joint pain ».

Improved respiratory health

“Rosemary can help relieve symptoms of respiratory infections such as bronchitis and colds thanks to its expectorant and antimicrobial properties.

Cardiovascular health

“Rosemary can help improve blood circulation and to reduce cholesterol levels, which contributes to cardiovascular health.

Protect liver cells against toxins

“Rosemary is known for protect liver cells against toxins or drug attacks, thanks to several active substances such as flavonoids and essences (camphor, cineole, verbenone, pinenes),” adds Dr Jean-Michel Morel.

How to use rosemary?

Rosemary can be used in many forms. It can be consumed fresh or dried, in the form of a liquid or glycerin extract, young shoots, etc.

Infusion (tisane)

“To prepare a herbal tea, simply infuse a few rosemary leaves in hot water. It’s ideal for digestion and relaxation,” says Shana Sarfati.

Dry or liquid extract

“These concentrated forms can be added to drinks or foods to benefit from its therapeutic properties in a more intense way.

Essential oil

Used in massage or diffusion, rosemary essential oil helps relieve pain and purify the air. It must be diluted in vegetable oil when it comes into contact with the skin. Before using, seek advice from a healthcare professional. Shana Sarfati, naturopath and dietitian

“Rosemary essential oil is also used as an essential oil in the broadcasters to improve concentration, reduce stress and improve mood,” she continues.


” A few drops of rosemary essential oil in a bowl of hot water to inhale the vaporshelping to decongest the respiratory tract.”


« Fresh leaves can be added directly to dishes to enhance their flavor and benefit from their benefits.”

What are the contraindications to consuming rosemary?

Taking rosemary is not recommended for some people.

Pregnancy and breast feeding

” THE pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid high doses of rosemary, especially in the form of essential oil,” warns Shana Sarfati.

Rosemary is also contraindicated in children under 12 years old.


“Rosemary essential oil can trigger seizures in people with epilepsy and should be used with caution.


“As with any plant, some people may be allergic to rosemary. It is therefore advisable to carry out a tolerance test before regular use.”

Liver stones and diseases

“Rosemary, taken orally (including as an infusion), is contraindicated in people with bile duct obstruction (calculations) or a liver disease », Indicates Dr Jean-Michel Morel.

Excessive consumption

When consumed excessively, rosemary can cause gastrointestinal irritations. Rosemary is a plant with multiple virtues, but as with any natural remedy, it is essential to use it with caution, recommends Shana Sarfati.

Rosemary can also be a natural repellent : Rosemary branches can be used to repel insects in the garden. The dried leaves can also be put into bags for perfume drawers and cupboards.

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