Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an evergreen herb, native to the Mediterranean. In my neck of the woods, it grows as an annual. I grow it every year just so I can smell its fragrant scent when I rub my fingers along its spiky leaves. Rosemary is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae along with oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender. The name rosemary derives from the Latin ros meaning "dew" and marinus meaning "sea" - "sea dew."
Yes, rosemary smells good, but its benefits go way beyond that. It’s been used as a medicine both internally and externally. Typically it’s prepared as a dried whole herb or a dried powdered extract. Rosemary teas and liquid extracts are made from fresh or dried leaves.
In Europe, rosemary is used to help treat indigestion. It’s said to relieve flatulence and stomach cramping. Rosemary contains carnosic acid, which is said to fight off free radical damage in the brain. Canosic acid also promotes eye health.
Rosemary may be an effective herbal anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent, according to one study, published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry. (See report here.) Research published in Oncology Reports found that “Constituents in rosemary have shown a variety of pharmacological activities for cancer chemoprevention and therapy in in vitro and in vivo models.” (See report here.)
All in all, rosemary seems like quite a little powerhouse herb. As a cooking spice, it’s outstanding. One of my all-time favorite uses of rosemary is in garlic mashed potatoes. You’ll find a great recipe for this here, at the Washington State Potatoes site.