Rosemary is used to combat the hair loss, stimulate the growth of new hair, strengthen hair roots, support hair follicles, and clean the scalp and hair of impurities. Rosemary oil is believed to be even more effective in fighting hair loss and eliminating dry dandruff, than water-based rosemary infusions due to high levels of antioxidants. It is very effective in treating dandruff, which is one of the scalp conditions that can lead to hair loss. Rosemary is known to help darken gray hair if used over an extended period of time. Rosemary will also eliminate dryness and act as an excellent conditioner.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant evergreen needle-like leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region. Forms range from upright to trailing; upright plants can reach up to 2 m (6 ft 7 in). Flowers, very common in a mature and healthy specimen, bloom in summer in the north; but can be permanently blooming in warm-winter climates. They are variable in color, being white, pink, purple or blue.
Rosemary and hair loss
Rosemary is used to combat the hair loss, stimulate the growth of new hair, strengthen hair roots, support hair follicles, eliminate dandruff and clean the scalp and hair of impurities. Both fresh and dry plants can be used to make water or spirit infusions to use as aromatic hair conditioners, splitz or hair rinses. In addition, home-made rosemary vinegar, as well as rosemary oil, can be applied to the hair roots or used in different other ways to treat hair loss.
Both fresh and dry rosemary are used to make various herbal infusions that can be applied to the hair. To make a simple water infusion, put several handfuls of rosemary into a water-filled pot, bring to boil and gently simmer for about 5 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool, strain into a container and pour through the hair after shampooing. There is no need to wash the rosemary out of the hair after application. The procedure can be repeated every time the hair is washed.
Rosemary oil is believed to be even more effective in fighting hair loss and eliminating dry dandruff than water-based rosemary infusions. Extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil is known to be beneficial for the scalp and hair; it acts as a good base for a rosemary infusion. Fresh herbs are the best to use in the preparation of rosemary oil, but dry rosemary can also be used.
Another way to use rosemary for topical hair applications is to make rosemary vinegar. It is advisable to infuse rosemary only in raw and, preferably, high quality organic apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has long been recognized for its hair-rejuvenating properties. Combined with rosemary, this vinegar can be used as a remedy for dull, weak and falling hair.
Rosemary side effects
When rosemary is harvested appropriately and used within recommended guidelines, side effects are minimal. A few instances of allergic skin reactions to topical preparations containing rosemary have been reported.
Recent research has shown that rosemary interferes with the absorption of iron in the diet, which indicates that it should not be used internally by persons with iron deficiency anemia.
Rosemary in culinary or therapeutic doses is generally safe. A toxicity studies of the plant on rats has shown hepatoprotective and antimutagenic activities (Fahim et al. 1999. Allied studies on the effect of Rosmarinus officinalis L. on experimental hepatotoxicity and mutagenesis. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 50: 413-427). However, caution is necessary for individuals displaying allergic reaction or prone to epileptic seizures. Rosemary essential oil may have epileptogenic properties, as a handful of case reports over the past century have linked its use with seizures in otherwise healthy adults or children (Burkhard et al. 1999. Plant-induced seizures: reappearance of an old problem. Journal of Neurology 246: 667–670).
Rosemary essential oil is potentially toxic if ingested. Large quantities of rosemary leaves can cause adverse reactions, such as coma, spasm, vomiting, and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) that can be fatal. Avoid consuming large quantities of rosemary especially if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Rosemary should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or suffering from epilepsy without first consulting their doctor. Since rosemary is a stimulant and is used sometimes as an herbal heart tonic it should also not be used by heart patients without first consulting a doctor.
Health benefits of rosemary
For most tonics and recipes rosemary leaves are used more often than the flowers or the rest of the plant Rosemary is used by herbalists as a remedy for the gall bladder and the liver. Rosemary is also used as an antiseptic for treating flu, viruses and colds. Sore muscles, rheumatism and arthritis are claimed to often respond well to rosemary oils applied during massage.
Rosemary is also believed to help lower blood sugar, relieve cramps and stimulate blocked menstrual flow.
Rosemary and memory
Rosemary has a centuries-old reputation for improving memory.
Rosemary and free radicals
The results of a study suggest that carnosic acid, found in rosemary, may shield the brain from free radicals, lowering the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s.
Rosemary contains a number of potentially biologically active compounds, including antioxidants such as carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid. Other bioactive compounds include camphor (up to 20% in dry rosemary leaves), caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, rosmaridiphenol, and rosmanol.
Rosemary essential oils
Rosemary essential oil is extracted by a method of steam distillation of the entire flowering plant. The resulting oil is a light buttery yellow. It is estimated that it takes close to 70 pounds of the flowering plant to yield one pound of essential rosemary oil.
Fresh brewed rosemary tea is often drunk as an alternative to caffeine to give an instant burst of energy. Many health food stores sell rosemary prepared in tea bags or as loose teas. Steep for 20 minutes, or more, before drinking.
Although rosemary originated in the Mediterranean regions, it is now widely cultivated in France, Italy, Spain, Yugoslavia and Tunisia. Rosemary grows on friable loam soil with good drainage in an open sunny position. It will not withstand water logging and some varieties may be susceptible to frost. It grows best in neutral – alkaline conditions pH (pH 7-7.8) with average fertility. It can be propagated from an existing plant by clipping a shoot 10-15 cm (4-6 in) long, stripping a few leaves from the bottom and planting directly into soil.