Clear Your Mind With This Delicious Italian Herb

While rosemary is an herb commonly found in many a spice cabinet, we don’t often give it enough credit for its medicinal properties. We see it as a great flavoring for soups, stews, sauces, and roasts — and it certainly is! — but rosemary can do a great deal for your health, as well.

Along with the many benefits of consuming this delicious relative of mint, the aroma of rosemary has its own beneficial properties. Just a few of these include boosting brainpower, reducing stress, and elevating your overall mood.

Eat rosemary for better health

When you cook with rosemary, you’re giving your body the benefit of some highly potent antioxidant compounds. These include rosmarinic acid (hence the name rosemary), betulic acid, caffeic acid, carnosol, and carnosic acid. These antioxidants work together to help reduce inflammation throughout the body.

As chronic inflammation has been linked to underlying a number of diseases, including autoimmune illnesses such as arthritis and lupus, as well as certain cases of heart disease and cancer, reducing inflammation naturally is imperative to your overall health. If you keep your body’s inflammation in check, you may significantly reduce your risk of developing these conditions.

Rosemary has also been traditionally used to improve digestion and circulation, and to boost the immune system. It may also be therapeutic for asthma sufferers thanks to its anti-inflammatory nature.

Rosemary essential oil for reduced stress and a clear mind

If you struggle with stress, want to improve your memory, or just need a boost focusing in the middle of the day, try rosemary essential oil. A body of research has found that this essential oil stimulates the mind for these very purposes.

A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience tested the effects of aromatherapy with lavender and rosemary on the mood and cognition of 40 adult volunteers. The EEG activity of the volunteers’ brains was also measured. On the effects of the rosemary essential oil, the study authors wrote:

“The rosemary group… showed decreased frontal alpha and beta power, suggesting increased alertness. They also had lower state anxiety scores, reported feeling more relaxed and alert and they were only faster, not more accurate, at completing the math computations after the aromatherapy session.”

So, while aromatherapy with rosemary may not increase the accuracy of your math skills, it may indeed help you relax, clear your mind, focus, and work more quickly.

Aromatherapy with rosemary may help to ease many kinds of stress, including the jitters that come from taking a big exam. A 2009 study published in the journal Holistic Nursing Practice provided nursing students taking their graduate exams with sachets of both lavender and rosemary essential oils. On the results of this aromatherapy research, the authors wrote:

“In this study, the use of lavender and rosemary essential oil sachets reduced test-taking stress in graduate nursing students as evidenced by lower scores on test anxiety measure, personal statements, and pulse rates.”

Choosing the best rosemary

When cooking with rosemary, your best bet is fresh and organic. If you don’t have a trustworthy local source for fresh organic rosemary, you could always grow your own. It’s hard to beat fresh herbs from your very own garden.

For rosemary essential oil, make sure that you find a high-quality oil from a reputable source — many essential oils on the market unfortunately aren’t what they claim to be. Do a little research on the company, and make sure the oil is therapeutic grade.

To reap the aromatherapy benefits, mix a couple of drops of rosemary oil with a teaspoon of organic coconut oil, and use in massage, or apply to pressure points. You can also put it in a diffuser to circulate the stimulating scent through any room of your home.

—Tanya Rakhmilevich

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