Rosemary, it’s about Thyme to be a Sage


Rosemary, with the botanical name, Rosmarinus officinalis, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region.


It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs. The name “rosemary” derives from the Latin for “dew” (ros) and “sea” (marinus), or “dew of the sea”.

Rosemary contains a number of phytochemicals and antioxidants:  1

  • Phytochemicals
    • 1,8-cineol
    • betulinic acid
    • borneol
    • bornyl acetate
    • caffeic acid
    • camphor
    • rosmarinic acid
    • therein
    • ursolic acid
    • α-pinene
  • Antioxidants
    • carnosic acid
    • carnosol

Most Rosemary supplements are standardized to contain 6% carnosic acid.

Rosemary has a multitude of health benefits and has been well researched.  These benefits are listed in the Table below:

Health Benefits of Rosemary

It is concluded that rosemary and its constituents especially caffeic acid derivatives such as rosmarinic acid have a therapeutic potential in treatment or prevention of bronchial asthma, spasmogenic disorders, peptic ulcer, inflammatory diseases, hepatotoxicity, atherosclerosis, ischaemic heart disease, cataract, cancer and poor sperm motility.1
Long-term daily intake of rosemary and common thyme has an antithrombotic effect, which is probably due to inhibition of platelets and stimulation of endothelial cells. The antithrombotic effect was not accompanied by prolongation of bleeding time.2
Quinone Reductase
Liver activities of GST and QR, and stomach GST activity were significantly increased in animals fed diets containing rosemary extract. However, diets supplemented with rosemary extract did not affect lung GST and QR activities. These results indicate that components of rosemary extract have the potential to protect mouse liver and stomach from carcinogenic or toxic agents.3
Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines
The inhibiting effect of rosemary extracts on HCA formation corresponded to their antioxidant activity based on a DPPH scavenging assay. Rosemary extract 10E and 20E contain a mixture of rosmarinic acid, carnosol, and carnosic acid. It is possible that these compounds might act synergistically in inhibiting the formation of HCAs.4
Carbon Tetrachloride
Histological evaluation showed that Rosmarinus officinalis partially prevented CCl(4)-induced inflammation, necrosis and vacuolation. Rosmarinus officinalis might exert a dual effect on CCl(4)-induced acute liver injury, acting as an antioxidant and improving GST-dependent detoxification systems.5
Leukotriene B4
Rosmarinic acid is well absorbed from gastrointestinal tract and from the skin. It increases the production of prostaglandin E2 and reduces the production of leukotriene B4 in human polymorphonuclear leucocytes, and inhibits the complement system.6
Although the extracts exhibited various cytotoxic effects against different cell lines, comparatively low IC(50) values ranging between 12.50 and 47.55 microg/ml were attained against K-562, being the most sensitive cell line. Moreover, carnosic acid caused the lowest cell viability with values ranging from 13 to 30 % at a concentration of 19 muM after 48 h of treatments, resulting in superior antiproliferative effect. Rosemary extract is a potential candidate to be included in the anti-cancer diet with pre-determined doses avoiding toxicity.7
Breast cancer
Carnosol is one rosemary constituent that can prevent DMBA-induced DNA damage and tumor formation in the rat mammary gland, and, thus, has potential for use as a breast cancer chemopreventative agent.8
Skin cancer
At a dose rate of 500 mg/kg body wt/mouse, the oral administration of rosemary extract was found to be significantly protective against two-stage skin tumorigenesis.9
Results suggest that carnosol may be useful as a novel chemotherapeutic agent against B-lineage leukemias, and possibly other types of cancers that express high levels of the protective protein, Bcl-2.10
Rosemary can be considered an herbal anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent.11 12
Artemisia afra and R. officinalis showed similar and higher antimicrobial activity than P. incana. Due to their broad antimicrobial activities, the essential oils of the above plants growing in Eastern Cape may have preservative potential for the food and cosmetic industries.13
Carnosol and carnosic acid have been suggested to account for over 90% of the antioxidant properties of rosemary extract.14
Liver protective
Carnosol prevents acute liver damage, possibly by improving the structural integrity of the hepatocytes. To achieve this, carnosol could scavenge free radicals induced by CCl(4), consequently avoiding the propagation of lipid peroxides. It is suggested that at least some of the beneficial properties of Rosmarinus officinalis are due to carnosol.15
Phospholipids (Peroxidation)
Rosemary extracts block damaging lipid peroxidation, the destruction of brain cells’ fatty membranes that impairs cognitive performance.16
Rosemary inhibits fructose-mediated protein glycation.17
Rosemary and its constituents especially caffeic acid derivatives such as rosmarinic acid have a therapeutic potential in treatment or prevention of bronchial asthma, spasmogenic disorders, peptic ulcer, inflammatory diseases, hepatotoxicity, atherosclerosis, ischaemic heart disease, cataract, cancer and poor sperm motility.18
May help to prevent/treat Alzheimer's Disease (by inhibiting the Acetylcholinesterase enzyme)19
Carnosic acid may be useful in protecting against beta amyloid-induced neurodegeneration in the hippocampus.20
May alleviate Depression21
Nerve Growth Factor
May enhance the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) (due to the carnosic acid and carnosol content of Rosemary)22
High concentration of carnosic acid, which helps improve memory 23
Higher concentrations resulting in improved performance with 1,8-cineole (1,3,3-trimethyl-2-oxabicyclo[2,2,2]octane), one of rosemary's main chemical components. 24
Carnosol may have potential as a possible compound for the development of new agents to treat Parkinson's disease 25


Swanson Health Products – Rosemary

Starwest Botanticals – Rosemary (Varieties)

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