Herb of the Season: Rujamari (Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis)

The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. In the West, not only was it used for ornamentation at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells. At weddings, it was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride, being first dipped into scented water. The herb, aerial parts of rosemary and the roots are the most commonly used parts for its medicinal and commercial applications.

Research conducted at the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine on participants in the age group 60 to 90 years or older have demonstrated that people who use this herb regularly have had virtually no cataracts, very few bone fractures, excellent heart health and significantly low rates of Alzheimer’s disease. The older residents who use the herb have exceptionally good microcirculation.

Ayurveda makes use of Rosemary essential oil for improving memory, Halitosis, headaches, stomach upset, insect bites, skin problems like eczema and skin infections. Ayurveda also uses Rosemary essential oil for aromatherapy treatments. When used as an essential oil, Rosemary is excellent tonic for skin and hair, augments memory, fights depression, fear and fatigue, and on the whole, is a ‘must-have’ essential oil in the medicine cabinet. Rosemary essential oil can help address a wide variety of health issues including dental problems, respiratory disorders, inflammation and pain, urinary problems, gastrointestinal troubles and weak immune system.

Its Ayurvedic energetics are:

Rasa: Pungent, bitter
Virya: Warm
Vipaka: Pungent
Dosha effect: KV-P+
Gunas: Oily, light, penetrating, subtle
Tissues entered: Plasma, blood, fat, muscle, nerve/bone marrow
Srota entered: Circulatory, digestive, respiratory
Other trophisms: Head, liver

Its traditional applications include:

Digestive: Gas, flatulence, liver and gall bladder syndromes, indigestion, sluggish digestion (Mandagni), GERD
Neurological/Psychological: Age-related mental decline. Evidence suggests that taking 750 mg of powdered rosemary leaves in tomato juice might improve memory speed in healthy, older adults. However, taking higher doses (150-6000 mg) seems to make memory worse. There is also early evidence that suggests rosemary aromatherapy can improve the quality but not the speed of memory. Evidence about the effects of rosemary aromatherapy for anxiety and stress is mixed although it suggests that rosemary and lavender oil may reduce heart rates.
Dermatological/Skin: Applying rosemary oil with lavender, thyme, and cedarwood oils to the scalp improves hair growth. Useful in eczema.
Musculoskeletal: Research shows that taking a product containing rosemary, hops, and oleanolic acid (NG440 or Meta050) can reduce pain associated with arthritis.
Gynecology: Increases menstrual flow.
Respiratory: Cough, colds and congestion; asthma.
Metabolic: Gout.
Endocrines: Rosemary stimulates the adrenal glands, and used to treat debility and other similar ailments, and most especially if they are accompanied by poor digestion and circulation.
Pain syndromes: Useful in treating headache, toothache, myalgia, sciatica, intercostal neuralgia.
Cardiovascular: May be useful in hypotension, hypertension.
Ophthalmic: A study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, led by Stuart A. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, revealed that a major component of rosemary, carnosic acid, can significantly promote eye health. This could have clinical applications for diseases affecting the outer retina, such as age-related macular degeneration - the most common eye disease in the U.S.
Other: Vulnerary, useful in promoting healing of open wounds (contusions, abrasions, lacerations and punctures). Evidence suggests that rosemary might help withdrawal from narcotics. Evidence suggests that rosemary or its constituents may have antithrombotic (“blood thinning”), anticancer, diuretic, and ulcer-protective effects.

Dosage: 1-2 g. leaves infused in 200 ml. water t.i.d

Contraindications and cautions: Caution in high-pitta clients and hyperacidity. Little is known about the safety of applying rosemary to the skin during pregnancy. Taken internally, Rosemary may stimulate menstruation or affect the uterus, causing a miscarriage. Avoid rosemary in pregnancy in larger than food amounts. If lactating, avoid rosemary in medicinal amounts. Avoid using Rosemary in cases of Aspirin allergy. Rosemary contains a salicylate that may cause a reaction in people who are allergic to aspirin. Avoid where Lithium is being taken. Avoid in bleeding disorders: Rosemary might increase the risk of bleeding and bruising in people with bleeding disorders. Use cautiously or avoid entirely in epilepsy and other seizure disorders: Rosemary might make attenuate the effect of antispasmodic medication.

Provided by William Courson, BVSA, Dpl. Ayur., C.H. an Ayurvedic Practitioner, faculty member and the College Dean of Institutional Development at Sai Ayurvedic College & Ayurvedic Wellness Center.

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