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Rosemary Essential Oil

Just Aromatherapy Health Benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil

The distinctive aromatic smell of rosemary essential oil is often associated with its culinary uses, but rosemary essential oil has a whole host of positive medicinal and psychological effects.


Rosemary is an evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean coast but now cultivated worldwide for ornamental, culinary, medicinal and perfumery purposes. The plant can still be found growing wild in vast masses on the uncultivated hills of Provence. It is also common in parts of Spain, Hungary, Italiy, Greece, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Corsica.

The essential oil is captured by steam distillation of the flowering tops, Rosemarinus officinalis being the variety most often used in aromatherapy. The oil is a olourless to pale yellow liquid with a piercing, camphorated, woody balsamic aroma.

The precise nature of the scent varies according to the plant's habitat. French rosemary essential oil, for example, is highly camphorated; Corsican essential oil has a gentler quality; while the Tunisian variety is fresher, with a peppery overtone. Despite regional variations the odour effect of rosemary essential oil is generally perceived as refreshing, yet warming and invigorating.


Rosemary essential oil has impressive healing properties, and is also an excellent nerve tonic. A few drops of the rosemary essential oil in the bath restore flagging energy levels after a period of prolonged stress. It can also be used in a oil burner to help concentration. Since the beginning of civilization, rosemary essential oil has been associated with the mind and improving the memory. Garlands of rosemary essential oil were worn by ancient Greek and Roman students taking exams. The modern equivalent is to dab essential oil onto wrist bands or a hairband to boost mental power. The essential oil reflects most of the uses of the herbal remedy and studies have shown that as well as being a stimulant to the nervous system, rosemary essential oil is primarily antiseptic and anti-bacterial. (In former times the herb was used to delay putrefacion in uncooked meat.) The warming and stimulating effects of rosemary essential oil help clear phlegm from the head and chest, which is why it has traditionally been used as a remedy for upper-respiratory ailments, such as acute bronchitis, catarrh and colds. For such complaints it can be used in steam inhalations, diluted in grapeseed or sweet almond oil and applied as a chest rub, or simply added to the bath.

rosemary name

The name comes from the Latin ros marinus meaning 'dew of the sea', because rosemary essential oil originally grew along the Mediterranean coastline. Wherever rosemary essential oil grows, its delightfully stimulating aroma is at its best in hot sunshine.



MAIN BENEFITS: Its restorative effect on the nervous system


PRICE: Affordable

PERFUME GROUP: Herbaceous/camphorated

SAFETY WARNING: Avoid if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure or epilepsy


Rosemary's analgesic proerties mean that it can be used in baths and massage blends to ease rheumatic and arthritic pain, and to sooth overworked muscles. In combination with lavender essential oil, rosemary essential oil makes an excellent conditioning massage oil to use before athletics or any strenuous activity. It warms and loosens the muscles and joints, thus helping to prevent cramp and injury.

Rosemary essential oilhas long been considered a tonic for the heart and nervous system. A Renaissance herbalist from Strasbourg, Wilhelm Ryff, said of rosemary tea, 'the spirits of the heart and entire body feel joy from this drink whitch dispels all despondency and worry'. For centuries herbalists have used the remedy for skin complaints, poor circulation, jaundice, painful periouds, fainting, nervousness, anxiety, exhaustion, headaches and migrains. Applied as a compress, it also heals wounds.

The pungent aroma of rosemary essential oil was believed to ward off disease and it was often burned as incense to purify the air in sick chambers. And, according to Bancke's Herbal of 1525, 'the leaves laid under the pillow deliver one from evil dreams'. The publication also suggests 'smell it oft and it shall keep thee forever young'. Interestingly, rosemary essential oil has always had a reputation for promoting lustrous hair growth and rejuvenating the skin.

Essential oil of rosemary is an ingredient of authentic eau de cologne, and major ingredient in Hungary water - a tonic formula which was especially popular in Victorian times. The elixir was named after Queen Elizabeth of Hungary who, it is said, was given the recipe by a hermit in the late 14th century. She took a few spoonfuls once a week, washed her face with the mixture every morning and rubbed it all over her body. It made Elizabeth so youthful, so the story goes, that the King of Poland asked for her hand in marriage when she was 72! indeed, recent research has shown that rosemary essential oil is a powerful antioxidant and may indeed slow down the ageing process.

napolean and rosemary essential oil

However, Napoleon (shown right) was more interested in harnessing rosemary's power to focus the mind. Records show that he used about 60 bottles of rosemary cologne a month. It reminded him of his boyhood in Corsica, where rosemary still grows wild on the cliff tops, and he believed its piercing aroma enabled him to plan his army manoeuvres. Intriguingly, odour researchers in the USA using high tech scanning devices have discovered that sniffing rosemary essence results in increased electrical activity in the part of the brain associated with logical thought processes. In other words, it has the power to light up the mind!


The ancient Egyptians used rosemary essential oil in their complex cleansing rituals. They valued essential oils for their psychological effects as well as their practical uses - a recipe for a body deodorant dating from 1500BC still exists.

Beauty essentials with rosemary essential oil

Rosemary essential oil can be used for foot baths, shower gels, perfumes, deodorants and even a gentle, cleansing and balancing face mask.


Use essential oils to make a quicker variation of the Rosemary and Lavender Honey Mask. Add 1 drop each of pure rosemary and pure rosemary essential oil and pure lavender essential oils to 15ml clear honey and stir thoroughly. Apply in exactly the same way as below.

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