Scientific Name(S): Rosmarinus officinalis L. Family: Labiatae or Lamiaceae.
Common Name(S): Rosemary, Old Man
Description : Rosemary is an attractive evergreen shrub with pine needle-like leaves. It's trusses of blue flowers last through spring and summer in a warm, humid environment. It will grow to a height of between 3 and 5 feet.
History/Region of Origin
Rosemary's name is rooted in legend. The story goes that during her flight from Egypt, the Virgin Mary draped her blue cloak on a Rosemary bush. She then laid a white flower on top of the cloak. That night, the flower turned blue and the bush was thereafter known as the "rose of Mary". Greeks, who wove Rosemary wreaths into their hair, believed Rosemary strengthened the brain and enhanced memory. It was also known as a symbol of fidelity. In the Middle Ages, Rosemary was used medicinally and as a condiment for salted meats. In Europe, wedding parties burned Rosemary as incense. Judges burned it to protect against illness brought in by prisoners.
Uses of Rosemary:
Rosemary has been reported to decrease capillary permeability and fragility. Extracts have been used in insect repellents. The plant may have anticancer properties and has spasmolytic actions, liver and immune effects, and other various actions from asthma treatment to aromatherapy. It has antimicrobial actions against a variety of bacteria, fungi, mold, and viruses.
Side Effects of Rosemary:
Ingestion of large quantities of rosemary can result in stomach and intestinal irritation and kidney damage. Allergic contact dermatitis has been associated with the plant, but rosemary is not generally considered to be a human skin sensitizer. Rosemary's constituents, monoterpene ketones, are convulsants, and have caused seizures in large doses. Rosemary is also an abortifacient.
Toxicology: Although the oil is used safely as a food flavoring and the whole leaves are used as a potherb and spice, ingestion of large quantities of the oil can be associated with toxicity. Toxicity from the oil is characterized by stomach and intestinal irritation and kidney damage. Although rosemary oil is irritating to rabbit skin, it is not generally considered to be a sensitizer for human skin. However, preparations containing the oil may cause erythema, and toiletries can cause dermatitis in sensitive individuals. Allergic contact dermatitis from rosemary has been reported. A case report discusses contact dermatitis in a 56-year-old man reacting to carnosol, the main constituent in a rosemary preparation.At least 3 case reports concerning toxic seizures associated with rosemary exist. The plant's monoterpene ketones are powerful convulsants with known epileptogenic properties.
Certain molds may grow on rosemary.
A case of occupational asthma caused by rosemary has been reported.Rosemary extract may possess an anti-implantation effect as seen in rat experimentation. The plant is a reported abortifacient, and also affects the menstrual cycle.
Summary: Rosemary is a popular herb and widely used culinary spice. It has antimicrobial actions against a variety of bacteria, fungi, mold, and viruses. Its anticancer effects have been numerously reported and include inhibition of skin tumors, mammary tumors, and others. Rosemary has antioxidative actions. Certain constituents scavenge peroxyl radicals and detoxify harmful products. Other effects of rosemary include spasmolytic actions, liver and immune effects, and various actions from asthma treatment to aromatherapy. Allergic contact dermatitis has been associated with the plant, but rosemary is not generally considered to be a human skin sensitizer. Rosemary's constituents, monoterpene ketones, are convulsants, and have caused seizures in large doses. Rosemary is also an abortifacient.
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