The name rosemary has nothing to do with the rose or the name Mary, but derives from the Latin name rosmarinus, which is from “dew” (ros) and “sea” (marinus), or “dew of the sea”— apparently because it is frequently, found growing near the sea.
Rosemary is a symbol for remembrance and originally comes from the Mediterranean but is now grown world-wide. It is cultivated for oil production in France, Spain and Tunisia. It is an easy herb to grow and is a popular flavouring ingredient in many countries. It is a favourite in scented and herb gardens. Planted alongside a path it is delicious when people brush past it. It is a small bushy shrub with scented needle like grey green aromatic leaves. The flowers are small and a pale greyish blue. Rosemary has been used in herbal medicine for centuries and also has religious and spiritual significance in some countries. In several cultures it is believed to ward of “Evil spirits”. In medieval times it was used as a fumigant to ward off the plague. It is used to treat digestive, skin, respiratory and nervous complaints and is still recommended as a stimulant.
In the Middle Ages, rosemary was associated with wedding ceremonies – the bride would wear a rosemary headpiece and the groom and wedding guests would all wear a sprig of rosemary, and from this association with weddings rosemary evolved into a love charm. Newly wed couples would plant a branch of rosemary on their wedding day. If the branch grew it was a good omen for the union and family. In ‘A Modern Herbal’, Mrs Grieves says “A rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribands of all colours, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty.” Another example of rosemary’s use as a love charm was that a young person would tap another with a rosemary sprig and if the sprig contained an open flower, it was said that the couple would fall in love. Rosemary was used as divinatory herb-several types of herbs were grown in pots and assigned the name of a potential lover. Then they were left to grow and the plant that grew the strongest and fastest gave the answer. Rosemary was also stuffed into puppets (cloth dolls) in order to attract a lover or attract curative vibrations for illness. It was believed that placing a sprig of rosemary under a pillow before sleep would repel nightmares, and if placed outside the home it would repel witches. Somehow, the use of rosemary in the garden to repel witches turned into signification that the woman ruled the household in homes and gardens where rosemary grew abundantly. By the 16th century, this practise became a bone of contention; and men were known to rip up rosemary bushes to show that they, not their wives, ruled the roost.
Rosemary has particular benefits for the circulatory system easing cold extremities. The fragrance stimulates the mind, helping concentration, improving memory and relieving mental fatigue. It is said the ancient Greeks wore a garland of rosemary to achieve this effect. Rosemary helps tone the muscles and prevent strain. Rheumatism and Arthritis can also be relieved using Rosemary.
The pain relieving properties make it useful for headaches and revitalises the spirit when fatigue sets in from over work. It stimulating effects will work for the benefit of the digestive system, relieving flatulence, colic and irritated colon. Massage has a detoxifying effect on the body which stimulates the lymphatic drainage.
Rosemary is antiseptic and antimicrobial and can be used to treat colds, flu and bronchitis. It is used to treat oral and throat infections.
Rosemary is popular in hair-care is it counteracts greasy hair, seborrhoea and dandruff and might benefit some case of hair loss. It is used to treat lice and scabies as well.
Rosemary is extremely high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6