Rosemary: A Winter Gift

I was trying to think of a suitable herb to write about for my last post of the year, when Permaculture Magazine came to the rescue, reminding me that not only is Rosemary one of the hardiest of our garden herbs, but it’s also one that you can keep picking and using throughout winter!

To my mind, it has several medicinal uses that might come in particularly handy over the Christmas period, when our bodies and minds can be challenged by excess in various forms!

NB Avoid use of the essential oil or large doses of the herb in pregnancy. If you are on iron supplements, take rosemary apart from your iron supplements as it can inhibit absorption.

  • Rosemary is well known as a culinary herb and the carminative & antimocrobial properties of its volatile oil (which gives Rosemary its unmistakable and uplifting aroma) make it an excellent digestive tonic. Just cook with it, or make a tea by adding a couple of fresh sprigs of rosemary tops to a large mug and pouring over boiling water. Allow it to steep for 5 to 10 minutes before straining and drinking.
  • The Christmas season can mean large and unusually fatty meals, which can be difficult to digest, especially when we’re not used to it! Recent research suggests that Rosemary can temporarily improve the body’s ability to digest fats, by enhancing the activity of certain liver enzymes.
  • The flavonoids and phenolic acids in Rosemary contribute to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and the herb has had a reputation for strengthening memory since ancient Greek times, when students studying for exams used to burn rosemary in the house, or wind a sprig of rosemary into their hair. In more recent research, inhalation of the essential oil has been shown to enhance mood and memory in some. Why not pop a few drops of rosemary essential oil in an oil burner to ease a tension headache, or to refresh the spirits after a night of excess, and rid the room of unwanted smells at the same time! (NB In the case of Rosemary essential oil, less is more! It is very strong and should not be put undiluted on skin, sniffed directly from the bottle, and even diluted in a carrier oil, always make sure you do a patch test before applying it to your skin.)
  • How about adding a strong infusion of fresh rosemary tops to your bath? Rosemary is known as a mild circulatory tonic, and added to the bath, or diluted in a carrier oil directly to the skin, it can help optimise circulation in tired, aching muscles.
  • If your hair tends to look lackluster after two many late nights and too much of – well.. everything! Why not try making this Rosemary & Nettle hair rinse in readiness for ‘turning a new leaf’ in the New Year? All you need is cider vinegar, rosemary and nettle (if you don’t have fresh nettle to hand, then just make it with rosemary).

Wishing you a Peaceful, Happy & Healthy Christmas!!