The Spartan Guide to Rosemary
The Claim The evergreen herb doesn’t just make for a killer leg of lamb; since ancient times, it’s been heralded for its medicinal properties. Traditionally, rosemary was used to ease muscle pain, boost memory, and bolster the immune and circulatory systems. Today, it’s available not only as a dried herb in your grocery store, but also as a pill, tea, and liquid extract.
The Evidence Rosemary is a proven anti-inflammatory that’s rich in antioxidants, which help neutralize cell-harming particles known as free radicals. Animal research hints that the herb might help people who’ve suffered a stroke, and although more research is needed, some studies also suggest that it may ward off Alzheimer’s.
Modern scientists are also excited about rosemary’s potential for boosting brainpower: both memory and focus in the short run and age-related decline in the future. One study published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology showed that just smelling rosemary smell can improve concentration, performance, speed, and accuracy.
Another reason integrative healthcare practitioners like the herb and supplements is that they seem to have hormone-balancing effects—especially for women. “It helps detox estrogens in the liver, which can lower activity in the body,” says Susan Blum, M.D., an integrative physician and founder of the Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, New York. “It’s great to use for women with heavy periods, bad PMS, fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis, and hot flashes.”
In fact, research in mice demonstrates that by clearing out estrogen, rosemary helps decreases the hormone’s ability to cause cancer, and a study in Oncology Reports showed that rosemary extract “slowed the spread of human leukemia and breast carcinoma cells.”
How to Use It The easiest way to use rosemary is in the kitchen; it's great on omelettes, potatoes, or chicken. For hormone-balancing in women, rosemary is generally combined with other herbs as part of a more complete supplement. You may have to try a few to find one that really works for you.” Any time a new supplement is used, I recommend taking it for three months to see if your symptoms improve,” Dr. Blum says.