The aromatic green shrub is one of the most popular medicinal plants used in various practices around the world. The plant’s leaf and oil are widely used to make medicine as it contains antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Jasmine Atieno explores ways you can use the plant to improve your health
1. Helps lower your blood sugar
Blood sugar spikes when glucose builds up in the bloodstream. The rise in glucose triggers your pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream. Without insulin, glucose becomes more concentrated and can damage blood vessels, nerves and other organs. Therefore, it is crucial for people to manage their blood sugar levels. Rosemary tea contains compounds that may help lower high blood sugar levels by exerting insulin-like effects. It can also help boost the absorption of glucose into muscle cells, which in turn will help manage blood sugar levels.
2. Improves blood circulation
Poor blood circulation can disrupt the oxygen flow throughout the body, which can have an adverse effect on your lungs, heart and muscles. One of the symptoms includes cold fingers and toes. Rosemary oil may not cure the problem, but it can warm your blood so that it circulates more easily.
3. Improves your mood and memory
Experiencing stress and anxiety from time to time is common. Drinking and inhaling compounds in rosemary tea may help boost your mood and improve your memory. Rosemary was used by the Greeks and Romans in ancient times to strengthen memory. It is believed that inhaling rosemary oil may improve concentration, thinking and memory. It is also said that rosemary oil may aid age-related memory problems as well. Inhaling rosemary oil is said to stimulate brain activity.
4. Can protect vision and eye health
Drinking rosemary tea may slow down the progression of diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is one of the most common eye diseases that affect the elderly. It causes severe, permanent damage loss in people over the age of 60. It happens when the macula – the small central portion of your retina – wears down. Researchers report that carnosic acid, a component of the herb rosemary, promotes eye health. The UK team found that carnosic acid protects retinas from degeneration and toxicity in cell culture and in rodent models of light-induced retinal damage. Their findings suggest that carnosic acid may have clinical applications for the outer retina, including age-related macular degeneration.
5. Can promote digestion
Rosemary is thought to support digestion by promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria and reducing inflammation. Various reports suggest that rosemary helps with problems such as upset stomach, indigestion and gas. Including rosemary oil in your diet may help stimulate the release of bile, which is important in fat digestion, and activate your own antioxidant defense mechanisms, which in turn will help protect your liver.
6. Can support brain health
Some test-tube and animal studies have found that compounds in rosemary tea may protect the health of your brain by preventing the death of brain cells. Animal research suggests that rosemary may even support recovery from conditions that can lead to brain damage, such as a stroke. Other studies suggest that rosemary may prevent the negative effects of brain aging, even suggesting a protective effect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
7. Fights cancer, Type 2 diabetes, infections and helps in wound healing
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your body from oxidative damage and inflammation, which can lead to chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. They can be found in a variety of plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and herbs such as rosemary. Rosemary tea also contains compounds that may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of rosemary is largely attributed to its polyphenolic compounds like rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid. Due to its antioxidant capability, rosmarinic acid is often used as a natural preservative to increase the shelf life of perishable foods. The compounds in rosemary tea may also have antimicrobial properties, which may help fight infections. Rosemary leaves are employed in traditional medicine for their antibacterial and wound healing effects. Studies have also investigated the effects of rosmarinic and carnosic acid on cancer. They have found that the two acids may have antitumor properties and even slow the growth of leukemia, breast, and prostate cancer cells.
8. Can relieve pain
In folk medicine, rosemary is utilised as a mild pain reliever. In a two-week study, stroke survivors with shoulder pain who received a rosemary oil blend with acupressure for 20 minutes twice daily experienced a 30 per cent reduction in pain. Those who received only acupressure had a 15 per cent reduction in pain. Additionally, an animal study determined that rosemary oil was slightly more effective for pain than acetaminophen, a common over-the-counter pain medication
9. Can ease stress
Many factors can cause stress. From teenagers to older adults, millions are stressed out due to their hectic lives. Inhaling rosemary oil can help reduce the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn can help control mood swings and alleviate the chances of chronic stress, depression and other related problems. Increased cortisol levels can suppress your immune system, contribute to insomnia and cause mood swings, among other potential problems.
10. Fights bad breath
Rosemary essential oil has antimicrobial qualities that make it an effective counter for bad breath. You can use it as a mouthwash simply by adding a few drops of rosemary oil to water and swishing it around. By killing bacteria, it not only fights bad breath but also prevents plaque buildup, cavities and gingivitis.