Salvia Rosmarinus, (formally Rosmarinus officinalis)

Salvia Rosmarinus, (formally Rosmarinus officinalis): Family: Lamiaceae  

Common names: Rose of Mary, elf leaf, friendship bush. 

Part used: Leaf and flower  

Flavor: Pungent Action: warming and stimulating, often drying (Popham, 2021) 

Salvia Rosmarinus has been used for centuries in food and medicinally with a high point during the 17th century plague, where in London prices exceeded 6 shillings, well over the price of a pig at the time (Iverson, 2019). It was also burned with juniper in hospitals and sick rooms to cleanse the air. It is mentioned by Culpeper as it ‘helps weak memory and quickens the senses,’ and for windy digestion and poor eyesight, for which it is still used for today. Folk medicine saw it used a renal tonic, for dysmenorrhea and muscle spasms, as a mouth wash, hair rinse. The scent known to stimulate memory; and it was worn as crowns on Greek students. It was a key ingredient in the ‘queen of Hungary's water,’ which apparently cured her rheumatism and gout, while also using it as a wash restored her beauty and she lived to 80 after a second childhood in the 14th century (Debuigne et al., 2021). 

Salvia Rosmarinus is still used today. It is considered a circulatory stimulant and cardioprotective. This is due to its ability to correct lipid profile, lower blood pressure, reduction of atherosclerosis, and lessening cardiac hypertrophy (Shiravi et al., 2021). Due to rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid and carnosal, with antioxidant abilities show higher fatty acids oxidation and improved respiratory chain function, as well as a reduction in oxidative stress and antioxidant enzyme activity (de Oliveira, Camargo and de Oliveira, 2019).  

The synergic actions of the triterpenes ursolic, oleanolic and micromeric acids have been identified to reduce inflammation (de Macedo et al., 2020). This is by decreasing manufacture of pro-inflammatory cytokines, reducing expression of nuclear factor kappa B, hindering immune cells penetrating inflamed sites and influencing the intestinal MicroBio biome (Shiravi et al., 2021). 

For the digestive system, it is considered pungent and dry. Useful for treating catarrh in the digestive system (nausea may be symptom or mucous in stool) and several studies have shown GI health improve with less oxidative stress and inflammation (Veenstra and Johnson, 2021). It has hepatoprotective properties and stimulates the liver and gall bladder, also helping the body to metabolize cortisol more rapidly (Popham, 2016), (Veenstra and Johnson, 2021). 

Salvia Rosmarinus can be a great respiratory herb and a 2021 study reports its probable protective use against COVID-19 and other infections associated with cytokine storms. They attribute this to the herbs ability to reduce oxidative stress, muscle spasm, inflammation and  anti-fibrotic effects (Shiravi et al., 2021).  

It is considered a stimulant nervine, waking up depressed nerves and as a nootropic as carnosic acid can cross the blood-brain-barrier making it useful for ischemia and other neurodegenerative issues such as Alzheimer's (Shiravi et al., 2021).  

It is suited to dull achy headaches as it may relax peripheral circulation or due to its action on the liver it may treat headaches caused by accumulation of waste products (Popham, 2016).  

It has been found useful in Type two diabetes as it increases the movement of glucose into muscle cells (Mayer, 2015). 

Its action as circulatory stimulant makes it a useful diaphoretic and emmenagogue.  

External application and in the bath make it useful to fortify children and to relieve rheumatism, poor circulation, an anti-aging effect, anti-bacterial, antifungal, antinociceptive, anti-skin cancer, UV protective activity, anti-inflammatory, and wound healing (de Macedo et al., 2020), (Debuigne et al., 2021). Baby bottom wash for nappy rash (Mcintyre, 2005).  

Used as a tea, tincture, essential oil.  

Contraindications: Not suitable in excessive amounts during pregnancy, nervous, anxious person, or hot pounding headaches (Popham, 2016). 


de Macedo, L.M., dos Santos, É.M., Militão, L., Tundisi, L.L., Ataide, J.A., Souto, E.B. and Mazzola, P.G. (2020). Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L., syn Salvia rosmarinus Spenn.) and Its Topical Applications: A Review. Plants, [online] 9(5). Available at: 

de Oliveira, J.R., Camargo, S.E.A. and de Oliveira, L.D. (2019). Rosmarinus officinalis L. (rosemary) as therapeutic and prophylactic agent. Journal of Biomedical Science, 26(1). 

Gérard Debuigne, François Couplan, Vigne, P. and Vigne Délia (2021). 100 Plants That Heal: The Illustrated Herbarium of Medicinal Plants. Pynes Hill, Exeter: David & Charles. (picture used also from this book)

Iverson, C. (2019). Hedgerow Apothecary: recipes, remedies and rituals. London: Summerdale. 

Li, M., Cui, M.-M., Kenechukwu, N.A., Gu, Y.-W., Chen, Y.-L., Zhong, S.-J., Gao, Y.-T., Cao, X.-Y., Wang, L., Liu, F.-M. and Wen, X.-R. (2019). Rosmarinic acid ameliorates hypoxia/ischemia induced cognitive deficits and promotes remyelination. Neural Regeneration Research, [online] 15(5), pp.894–902. Available at: [Accessed 7 Mar. 2022]. 

Mayer, T. (2015). Brock researchers find rosemary extract effective in diabetes treatment. [online] The Brock News, a news source for Brock University. Available at: [Accessed 7 Mar. 2022]. 

Mcintyre, A. (2005). Herbal treatment of children: Western and Ayurvedic perspectives. Edinburgh; New York: Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann. 

Rahbardar, M. and Hosseinzadeh, H. (2020). Therapeutic effects of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) and its active constituents on nervous system disorders. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences. [online] Available at:

Shiravi, A., Akbari, A., Mohammadi, Z., Khalilian, M.-S., Zeinalian, A. and Zeinalian, M. (2021). Rosemary and its protective potencies against COVID-19 and other cytokine storm associated infections: A molecular review. Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 14(4), pp.401–416. 

Veenstra, J.P. and Johnson, J.J. (2021). Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus): Health-promoting benefits and food preservative properties. International journal of nutrition, [online] 6(4), pp.1–10. Available at: