(NaturalNews) One sprig of rosemary, the "dew of the sea", can grow into a burly, woody, shrubby plant. Its petite green leaves prove that great things come in small packages. Through the centuries, rosemary has adorned brides, laid beneath pillows as a sleep enhancer, been eaten as a tonic for the digestive tract, and smelled for its promise of memory boost. As such, recent scientific studies are investigating the marvels crammed in its leaves, its extracts, and its oils.
Memory and mood
Rosemary is shown to enhance memory through the herb's culinary use; its extract by means of reducing acetylcholinesterase; and by inhalation of its oil vapors. One interesting study verified that olfactory stimulation of rosemary increased saliva free radical scavenging activity and decreased saliva cortisol levels. A waft of rosemary may even elevate your mood.
When it comes to cancer, rosemary extract proves promising for colon, stomach, breast, liver, ovary, melanoma, and leukemia. Carnosic acid, derived from rosemary, stimulates cancer cell apoptosis (cell death), and down regulates cancer cell COX-2 expression. It is also is found to be anti-angiogenic, slowing tumor growth and metastasis.
Looking for an alternative to DEET? This insect repellent is known to induce brain damage with associated symptoms of muscle weakness, muscle pain, memory loss, fatigue, tremors, and shortness of breath. These symptoms may not manifest for months or years after exposure. DEET should never be used on infants. Rosemary oil or rosemary extract may be natural repellent solutions, with borneol and camphor as the active components. One study that demonstrates rosemary's effectiveness uses approximately 2 tablespoons of freshly minced rosemary leaves to about 1 cup of water. Let the mixture sit for 24 hours and filter out the leaves. Pour the water into a spray bottle and use on the skin as necessary. This cheap, natural alternative was found to provide better protection time and repellency than that of two other natural based brands.
What else does it do?
Rosemary extract may optimize cholesterol levels, modulate blood sugar levels, and help to promote weight loss. The ethanol extract can be used topically for pain. The oil is shown to be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and supportive of wound healing. Rosemary oil and extract may also be useful in balding, maintaining youthful looking skin, and reducing heterocyclic amines when cooking food at high temperatures.
High doses of rosemary are contraindicated during pregnancy. Rosemary oil may cause skin allergic reaction. In toxic doses, rosemary has been found to cause kidney dysfunction, and might exacerbate existing neurological conditions like epilepsy, neuroses etc.
About the author: Kelly Pepper, D.C., is a mother of six, an avid reader, eclectic cook, home manager, and untiring sleuth to natural living. She gathers her experience to share with children of all ages. She is currently working on a wellness book series for children ages 4-7. She and her husband own Affinity Health Professionals www.affinityhealthprofessionals.com.