Rosemary Benefits and Uses

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I love herbs for their ability to enhance any dish and to support optimal health. Rosemary is no exception. Rosemary has many amazing benefits, ranging from boosting hair health to even having some anti-cancer properties.

Rosemary: Dew of the Sea

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is Latin for “dew of the sea.” It’s often found growing naturally along sea cliffs. Today, rosemary is grown in many climates and is a very hardy herb. Rosemary leaf is an aromatic herb in the mint family that grows on an evergreen bush. It is most often used in cooking but has a wonderful woodsy scent that is great in air fresheners and aromatherapy mixes.

Rosemary Benefits

Rosemary is an amazing herb with many (some surprising!) benefits. Its health benefits are most often attributed to its high level of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. These antioxidants include carnosic acid, ursolic acid, carnosol, rosmarinic acid, and caffeic acid.

Improves Cognitive Function

Rosemary is a very aromatic herb, and as it turns out, its scent can help boost cognitive function.

In one controlled study, rosemary and lavender essential oils were studied for their aromatherapy uses. Participants that performed cognitive assessment tests while inhaling rosemary essential oils were significantly more alert than the control or lavender groups. The rosemary and lavender groups were significantly more content than the control group.

Rosemary can also be used to inhibit the cognitive decline of some patients. Rosemary has been used traditionally to reduce cognitive decline in aging, and at least one study confirms this connection. What it found was that culinary doses of rosemary significantly helped reduce cognitive decline.

Interestingly, a high dose of rosemary had the opposite effect, showing that more is not always better.

May Have Anti-Cancer Properties

One of the amazing benefits of rosemary is its anti-cancer properties. In a study published in the journal Phytomedicine, rosemary extract inhibited the proliferation of ovarian cancer cells.

In another study published in Cancer Letters, researchers found that rosemary had promise as a treatment for many cancers, including:

  • prostate
  • breast
  • skin
  • leukemia
  • colon

They also found that the rosemary treatment seems to only affect cancerous cells, not healthy cells.

Helps Reduce Stress

Stress is such a health hazard that even if you have everything else under control (diet, exercise, etc.), stress can derail your wellness goals. That’s why stress management is so important. A 2007 study found that inhaling lavender and rosemary essential oils decreased cortisol levels in the saliva. It also increased free radical scavenging activity.

Improves Hair and Skin Health

One of rosemary’s oldest uses is for healthy hair and skin. An article published in Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine explains that rosemary essential oils can help relieve skin issues such as:

  • acne
  • bacterial infections
  • sebum imbalance
  • cellulite
  • congested and oily conditions
  • dandruff
  • dermatitis
  • dry scalp
  • eczema
  • rosacea

Another study found that rosemary essential oil was as helpful in regrowing hair as a conventional treatment (minoxidil).

Reduces (Menstrual) Pain

Rosemary is helpful in reducing the pain of dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation). Research shows it’s also likely safe to use alongside pharmaceutical pain medications.

Improves Mental Energy

Inhalation of rosemary essential oils can benefit the brain. This study found that rosemary aromatherapy can stimulate the brain and affect brain wave activities, autonomic nervous system responses, and mood.

Supports Gastric Health

Rosemary has been used for centuries for stomach and gastric issues though there are no studies that support this use. However, a 1999 review article concluded that rosemary supports liver health by increasing bile production and protecting the liver from damage. When the liver is functioning well, digestion works much more smoothly.

Uses of Rosemary at Home

Rosemary is a wonderfully fragrant herb that has many uses around the home and not just in food recipes. Here are some ways I use it:

Fresh or Dried Herb Uses:

  • Dried or fresh rosemary can be used in cooking. Rosemary is great with meat dishes (especially lamb). Add black pepper and other Italian herbs for a Mediterranean flavor.
  • Rosemary can be infused into an oil (like olive oil) and used externally for skin irritations like eczema and other irritations listed above.
  • A strong infusion of rosemary and nettle leaf is an excellent herbal rinse for hair. It can help get rid of dandruff and speed hair growth when used after each washing.
  • Rosemary-infused oil is an intensive treatment for bad dandruff or hair loss and can be rubbed on hair, left for at least an hour, and washed out. This really improves scalp condition!
  • My favorite natural air freshener is to put a small handful of rosemary sprigs, one sliced lemon or orange, and a splash of vanilla into a saucepan and simmer on low all day (watch the water levels). It smells amazing and freshens the house for days.

Essential Oil Uses:

  • Rosemary oil can be used externally on the skin or hair (always dilute with a carrier oil first).
  • Rosemary is also helpful in warding off smaller pests like mosquitos and is an ingredient in my homemade Bug-Off Bars.
  • Used externally, rosemary oil can help soothe the stomach and relieve pain from indigestion, menstrual cramps, or other difficulties.
  • Rosemary antioxidant extract is a very effective natural preservative that can extend the shelf life of homemade lotions, cosmetics, or other homemade body products.

Where to Buy Rosemary Leaves

I like to get my dried herbs from Starwest Botanicals and my essential oils from Plant Therapy. Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs to grow. It’s easy to care for if you follow some tips:

  • Because it’s a Mediterranean plant, rosemary loves warm sunny spots.
  • It can even be grown indoors.
  • It can go long periods without water.
  • Prune after flowering.
  • Prune regularly to keep the plant healthy and attractive.

Many people who are not good with plants can keep a rosemary bush alive—it’s that easy to grow!

Is Rosemary Safe?

Rosemary is considered safe for most people in culinary amounts and has few side effects. But there are some people who should avoid it in medicinal amounts.

  • Pregnant women should not use rosemary in large amounts (cooking is fine) and should avoid the essential oils.
  • Breastfeeding women should also avoid large amounts of rosemary as there’s not enough known about how it affects this population.
  • Those with an aspirin allergy should not take medicinal amounts of rosemary.
  • Those with seizure or bleeding disorders should also avoid large amounts of rosemary.
  • Rosemary can raise blood pressure, so it may not be safe for those with elevated blood pressure.

If you’re unsure, check with your doctor to see if rosemary is safe for you.

Rosemary Benefits and Uses: Bottom Line

There are many uses for rosemary leaf beyond its use in cooking. Rosemary has been used by traditional communities for centuries, and science is just beginning to back up some of these traditional uses.

Ever used rosemary for something other than cooking? Tell me about it below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


45 responses to “Rosemary Benefits and Uses”

  1. Jona Avatar

    Rosemary is used for treating colds (flu) by inhaling smell from fresh leaves. Also very good for garnishing of meat leaving it with a nice and sweet smell.


  2. Maria Avatar

    Is it ok to use rosemary extract in soap during pregnancy? I would like to use an organic soap I found instead of all the cancer causing soaps and shampoos I have used in the past but it uses rosemary extract as a preservative.

  3. ann Avatar

    You can use rosemary as a wash rinse on your dogs gives them a shiny coat also helps to protect them from flees.

  4. Caitlin Avatar

    What is the ratio rosemary leaf to olive oil if I wanted to infuse on the stovetop and use for the scalp treatment you mention above? Can this then be used in place of Rosemary Essential Oil?
    Thanks Katie!

  5. Amy Funari Avatar
    Amy Funari

    I read a few of your articles and love what your doing! Thank you for this information on Rosemary. My family loves tht herb as well.

  6. Diana Avatar

    I use rosemary essential oil (antimicrobial, anti viral & a natural antibiotic) with my FOODGRADE hydrogen peroxide 3% (a few drops of REO will do)…I keep this mixture in a small blue vile and squirt some into my mouth with the droper before brushing my teeth) I use this as a mouth wash/rinse and it is a natural teeth whitener as well…super refreshing! My gums are pretty in pink now and my teeth feel as if they have been to the Dentist twice a day…fresh and clean…lov’n it. Thanks Katie for all the information I couldn’t do without it. Going greener is fabulous not only for myself but for our planet.

  7. Frankie Avatar

    I recently noticed a article on rosemary, it said it would help memory or brain cells, if you smelled it every day. Can,t find article then saw your website. Have you heard this?

  8. tas Avatar

    can someone use fresh rosemary with other herbs infused hair oil during pregnancy? i understand that one should not use rosemary essential oil?
    i am trying to grow out my hairs. m hairs are not regrowing on front and i am having shiny and oily scalp as well.i have so much less hair that you can see my scalp.i even cannot see hair roots. i used to have so much thick hairs but its gone now. i am also have pcos , vit d , vit b deficiencies and low ferritin level as well. (its improved from 17 ton 27 now), my weight also shoot up to 256 pounds. does weight loss also helps in hair growth.. with 2 kids i am feeling so much stressed these days..
    please give me some suggestions how i can overcome these things and specially my hair loss that blowing my confidence away,,,

    1. Arden Avatar

      Hi I have actually since losing weight been having my hair thin too I have just found out that I have PCOS to help my PCOS so we can conceive I have to lose weight. I have lost 5 pounds so far out of the 25 I have to lose and hair loss is a part of weight loss. I take a prenatal vitamin and drink water like crazy BUT I have curly hair and I infuse rosemary with apple cider vinegar with my conditioner and it has helped A LOT

  9. narinder Avatar

    i.was..looking.up up info on this herb.the health of rosemary and found you thanks for the

  10. Betty Avatar

    I was looking up the health benefits of rosemary and found you. Thanks for the info on this herb.

  11. Robert Vandyk Avatar
    Robert Vandyk

    When I grill meat over charcoal or when using the gas grill I drop two or three branches of rosemary into the center. I grow two pots in our garden of rosemary. Rosemary smokes on the charcoal and in the gas grill it smokes for a while then burst in to flame. It adds to the flavor of the cooked foods. This Works Great with trout and salmon. This also works great in campfires as well. Its gives a taste like we took the spice rack with us and the rosemary braches travel good in a one quart zip top bag. We can’t do that with fresh sweet basil or fresh oregano which we take only dried.

  12. Allison Tong Avatar
    Allison Tong

    My pet rats love rosemary croutons so rosemary will probably not ward off rodents.

  13. Gwen Avatar

    I have picked Rosemary from my bush
     and rubbed in my hands and then rubbed my arms and legs to work in the garden and so far no misquito bites and usually I can’t go outside without getting bites. This also has worked on my Gran Angels!

  14. Catherine Avatar

    I just picked up a natural deodorant cream with rosemary and mint! I was waiting on my shea/cocoa butters and beeswax so I could make your recipe when I spotted a locally made version that was somewhat similar and has gotten me through lol! At any rate, she says the rosemary helps as an antibacterial agent, I think? I don’t know, but it smells LOVELY!

  15. Sarah Doll Avatar
    Sarah Doll

    We love rosemary, thanks for all the ideas! I thought you would like this video I share about Crossroads, it’s so inspiring!!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Thanks for sharing, and what a fun walk. I know Alex and Daniel and they are hilarious!

  16. Stephanie Avatar

    I love this! I grew up in a country where out of necesity moms and grandmas are equiped with lots of “natural medicine” knowledge and as I’m switching to a greener/natural life I find myself connecting with my grandma (as she is no longer with us). Anyway, one more use for you: my mom used to bath us in rosemary water (just add fresh leaves to the boiling water than add to bath water) for fevers, and it would bring the fever down right away!

    1. Beverly Avatar

      I love the thought of using herbs for cure. I wish I had been able to get info from my grandmother. You wouldn’t happen to know of a book on old remedies, would you? A true one, of course. I’m an older person and don’t like side effects of today’s meds. I don’t have to take anything myself yet, but I’m beginning to get small problems.

      1. Tina Knutsen Avatar
        Tina Knutsen

        I have found some great herb books under the gardening section at thrift stores. A lot of them will tell you how to cook with them, harvest/propagate, dry /freeze also remedies and crafts. I found one today “all about herbs” it had all the above, granted the book was 20 years old…..I paid $4.99 hardback cover. Awesome information in it.

  17. Maryalice Avatar

    I think I will be adding this to my mountain rose order to try your air freshner recipe!

    1. sarah grace Clavenger Avatar
      sarah grace Clavenger

      If you like the air freshener rosemary then you’ll like this get some shirts shiitake mushrooms and boil some distilled water and clean your mushrooms and then pour the boiling water over them to Taki mushrooms let sit overnight then take the water from the mushrooms and poured into one of your spray bottles add some Rosemary and you will have a fine spray for your face that helps with inflammation and shiitake mushrooms help with a numerous amount of things for conditioning and helping with any breakouts from acne help with inflammation and hydration and much more you love it you can also put it in your refrigerator and spray it on you when you’re hot outside you should also do some research on shiitake mushrooms if you love Rosemary so many benefits homemade benefits

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