One of the most recognized herbs in the western world, rosemary is an essential part of many cultural traditions and lore. Rosemary originally came from the Mediterranean, where many of its deep roots in cuisine and medicine are steeped in religious storytelling. For instance, rosemary is said to have come from the rise of Aphrodite out of the sea, as she was dramatically draped in a garland made from its branches. The blue and purple color of its flowers is supposed to have come from Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she placed her blue cloak on a rosemary bush. This lead to the bush to bloom bright blue flowers in response. In herbal lore, rosemary is considered a strongly female entity, and is said to grow exceptionally well outside the houses of powerful women. Not to mention how its potent aroma is supposed to encourage fidelity and remembrance, and can still be found as a traditional wedding gift throughout Europe.
As a herbal remedy, rosemary has many applications, including (but not limited to) the below most common therapeutic benefits:
- Boosts memory
- Immune support
- Relieves pain
- Stimulates blood flow
- Promotes healthy skin
It is known to gently soothe mental anxiety, and promote relaxation when used in its essential oil format. At the same time, it can promote internal vigor, by stimulating blood circulation and can lead to slight increases in blood pressure. These benefits in part have been backed up through new scientific studies which have discovered that rosemary is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and a metal chelating agent (which translates to an ability to detoxify the body from harsh metals).
Rosemary for Digestive Health
Beyond all these rosemary benefits, the most well-known quality of rosemary is its powerful digestive benefits. Throughout its long history in western cultures, it has an extremely powerful tradition as a herbal remedy for upset stomachs and digestive tract issues.
As a digestive remedy, there is significant evidence of rosemary’s use for a series of different gastrointestinal issues. This includes being used for excessive gas and bloating, by calming the stomach and reducing any overactive digestion activity. Because it is also a known anti-inflammatory, this can be particularly useful for stomach issues because they are so often triggered by chronic inflammation. By reducing the inflammatory response, rosemary can subsequently reduce chronic gut pain.
Rosemary can easily be combined with other herbs known to soothe a dysfunctional gastrointestinal tract, like ginger, honey and lemon. It can also provide effective and gentle relief from constipation, without resulting in the opposite problem occurring and without resorting to any drugs.
Herbal Remedies for Digestive Issues using Rosemary
There are three main methods to use rosemary as a herbal remedy. The first is to make a rosemary tea, simple, but effective for digestive issues. Bring water to a boil, and simmer 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary in the water for about 10 minutes. Turn off and allow the mixture to cool enough to drink. Drink throughout the day to soothe indigestion and to improve gastric tone.
Another way to make use of rosemary is to use it topically, this is an especially useful method for treating cramping and digestive issues caused by abdominal spasms. Combine a few drops of rosemary essential oil into a tablespoon of carrier oil and gentle massage into the skin of the lower abdomen. This will soothe muscle spasms, and gently relax the area for smoother overall digestion. Herbalists recommend this for issues with constipation.
Finally, rosemary can be taken internally by inhaling it as a vapor. The easiest method is to put a few drops of the essential oil on the underside of your wrist, and then smell as needed throughout the day. If the abdominal discomfort is exceptionally bad, you can also put a few drops into a bowl of steaming hot water, and place a towel over your head creating a steam tent. Inhale deeply. This method works for settling upset stomachs from nausea, vomiting and can helps create an overall sense of calm if the pain is quite strong.
As previously mentioned, rosemary works well in conjunction with other herbs especially from the mint family. This family is well known for its ability to treat digestive issues. Try combining mint, thyme and rosemary together for a little variety and to take advantage of the benefits of these other herbs.
A Word of Caution
While safe to use in nearly all circumstances as a flavorful herb, its stronger preparations in extracts and essential oils require a bit more caution. Extracts and essential oils should not be consumed by pregnant or breastfeeding women, and care should always be taken to use the correct dosage for both internal and external use.