“As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship, whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language.”
– Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) British writer, statesman and philosopher
“There’s rosemary…that’s for remembrance.” Who can forget Ophelia, presenting bones as flowers after Hamlet’s and her father’s manipulations had driven her to insanity? It certainly stuck with me.
I love rosemary. Its delicate blue flowers and dusky needles, a stark contrast to its vibrant, bold flavor, are a favorite in my herb garden and kitchen. More than just a culinary delight, rosemary boasts some amazing longevity and healing properties.
A little history
Native to Greece and other the Mediterranean regions, rosemary has been used for centuries. The Greeks regularly drank (and still do) it as a tea to create strength, fight off colds and flu and to improve digestion. Rosemary was used in bridal and burial rituals to symbolize remembrance and students used it to aid in memory. Perfumeries were paid heartily to bring rosemary into homes to ‘sweeten and purify’ the air during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was also believed that where rosemary grew abundantly the woman ruled the house. True? Who knows? Yet there seem to have been plenty of instances where husbands hacked down rosemary bushes to get their wife under “control.” Perhaps this relates to rosemary’s unique ability to counter shyness and timidity.
Western nutritional highlights
Nutritionally, rosemary provides a few minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. However much of its power lies in its aromatic oils. In western terms, rosemary is a digestive, mild laxative, diuretic, emmenogogue (brings on menses), nervine, antiviral, choleric and antirrheumatic herb.
Rosemary’s Eastern nutritional energetics and healing properties
Sweet, dry, warm and pungent, rosemary is a true wonder. Where most herbs and foods are predominately either Yin or Yang, rosemary can balance the two beautifully. It enters the Heart, Lung, Liver, Spleen and Kidney. Let’s look a bit deeper.
Restores the Lung and Heart and tonifies Zong Qi (Ancestral Qi) – That balancing in the center of Yin and Yang means that rosemary can be used to treat deficient Lungs and Heart. This appears as irregular heart rates, depression, fatigue, shallow breathing, malaise and depression. If you have a weak upper burner (Lungs and Heart) use rosemary.
Warms cold, drives away chills and tonifies the Yang- Feeling a little chilly or have poor circulation? Have low blood pressure or a lack of drive? Get some rosemary into your life. Rosemary’s warm and moving nature treats pattern of Yang deficiency or Yang collapse including low energy, cold hands and feet and an overall feeling of cold.
Stimulates and improves digestion and resolves damp conditions – Rosemary is Yang (fire), it stokes up the digestive fire and aids the body’s ability to transform food into usable Qi. Use rosemary to relieve digestive bloating, constipation or diarrhea caused by cold, gas, nausea, excess mucus and phlegm (anywhere). Rosemary treats cold damp issues that lead to stones, lumps and masses. It also lowers cholesterol and jaundice.
Enters the Heart and the Mind – Rosemary enters the Heart helping to relieve depression and fatigue. It lifts and invigorates the spirit. Use rosemary if you are overly timid, shy or lack a zest for life. Rosemary sharpens the senses and aids in memory, focus and clear thinking. Yes, it really is for remembrance.
Release exhaustion, replenishes the adrenals and creates strength – Need a recharge? Have adrenal burn out? Rosemary generates strength and stamina, rebuilding depleted and overworked systems. As Otto Brunfels noted, “It creates pluck and courage.”
Relieves pain and moves stagnation – Rosemary’s ability to move Qi means increased circulation which will relieve pain. I use it for clients with POS (painful obstruction syndrome) like arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and any chronic pain. Add a little rosemary to a carrier oil like jojoba and rub into aches and pains.
Counters infertility and raises reproductive Qi – Another function of rosemary’s Yang nature is to treat infertility and diminished libido by tonifying Kidney Yang. It warms the low back, genitourinary tract and reproductive organs. It also treats weak knees.
Treats frequent urination – Frequent clear urination, white vaginal discharge and estrogen imbalances are a sign of Yang deficiency. Rosemary can help out here too.
Contraindications for rosemary? Nope…
Uses for rosemary
- Drink it – Add rosemary into teas – hot or cold- or into mulled wines and ciders during the cooler months.
- Eat it – Roast rosemary with roots or squash. Use it in salad dressings or add it to pesto. Use it with any meats or fish. Add it to savory desserts or baked goods.
- Use it as steams – Drop it into a pan of boiling water to make a clearing steam for your sinuses.
- Use it in arrangements – To purify a ‘sick’ room or to invigorate the energy in the room. Make it into wreaths.
- Make up a spritzer – Use rosemary water to spritz your face and scalp.
- Add it to baths – To fight of colds, flu, infection and to stimulate circulation and relieve pain.
- Use rosemary as a hair wash – Spritz to treat and prevent bedbugs and lice. Use it as a spritzer or scalp rinse to relieve eczema and dandruff or to simply stimulate the skin.