Rosmarinus officinalis

"For you there's rosemary and rue; these keep seeming and savour
all the winter long: Grace and remembrance be to you...."
W. Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale


Rosemary seems to me the wiser, stronger sister of the lamiacea family. Rosemary has spunk and spirit. It's the one to turn to when you're weak and need a strong arm to help you up; an oil to remember in the depths of the Canadian winter!

Historical Uses
Rosemary has a long herbal history as a mental stimulant and physical tonic.

Greek scholars placed rosemary wreaths on their heads to increase their power of concentration before exams. Gerard writes of rosemary in his "Herball" (1597): "If a garland thereof be put upon the head, it comforteth the brain, the memory, the inward senses, and comforteth the heart and maketh it merry."

The spirit of Rosemary was used in the legendary "Hungary water", named for Queen Elizabeth of Hungary (1370). It is said to have transformed her from a paralytic, chronically ill princess into a healthy, vibrant ruler.

Rosemary has also been used in the past to ward off evil, to offer protection from the plague, and as a gift symbolizing long lasting love and enduring friendship.

Physical Description
Rosemary has been described as the "conifer" of the lamiacea family, uniting many of the properties of the "needle leaf" oils with those of the flowering plants.* An aromatic shrub, rosemary can grow to heights of five or six feet. It has scaly bark, dense dark green leaves, and small pale blue blossoms. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean. The essential oil is distilled from the flowering tops, leaves and soft twigs. The steam-distilled essential oil ranges from colorless to pale yellow. The scent can vary according to the chemotype, where it is grown, and the quality of the oil, but generally it is fresh and herbaceous.

Main Therapeutic Properties
Besides being useful as a mental and physical tonic, rosemary is used as a neuro-muscular regulator. It can ease muscle pain, rheumatism and stiff joints, and is said to aid peripheral circulation.
Rosemary is mucolytic, anti-oxident, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial, and is useful in cases of coughs and bronchial conditions.
Rosemary has long been used in skin and hair products. Rosemary verbenone is especially good as a skin toner, cell regenerator and skin detoxifier. It is also used in cases of cuperose, or broken veins.

Safety Precautions
Avoid use during pregnancy, and with babies and children. This oil can be very stimulating and is not advised for those with high blood pressure and epilepsy.

Main Biochemical Constituents
Rosmarinus officinalis has several chemotypes:

Rosmarinus Officinalis Pyramidalis Type

Main Biochemical Constituents:
Monoterpenes - a-Pinene (3-24 %), b-Pinene (1-8 %), Camphene
Alcohols - Borneol
Ketones - Camphor
Oxides - 1,8-Cineole (7-60 %)

Rosmarinus Officinalis Camphor Type (Chemotype I)
Chemical Type: Ketone Oxide Aldehyde

Main Biochemical Constituents:
Monoterpenes - a-Pinene (12 %), b-Pinene, Camphene (22 %), a-Myrcene, b-Myrcene, Phellandrene, Limonene
Alcohols - a-v-Terpenin-4-ol, Borneol (4 %), Iso-Borneol,
Cis-Thujanol-4, Trans-Thujanol-4, P-Cymene-8-ol
Esters - (-) Borneol Acetate, a-Fenchyl Acetate
Oxides - 1,8-Cineole (up to 30 %), Caryophyllene Oxide,
Humulene Epoxides (I and II)
Ketones - 3-Hexanone, Methyl Heptanone, Camphor (up to 30 %),
(+) - Verbenone, Carvone

Rosmarinus Officinalis Cineole Type (Chemotype II)
Chemical Type: Oxide

Main Biochemical Constituents:
Monoterpenes - a-Pinene, b-Pinene, Camphene
Sesquiterpenes - b-Caryophyllene,
Alcohol - Borneol
Esters - Borneol Acetate
Oxides - 1,8-Cineole
Ketones - Camphor

Rosmarinus OfŪcinalis Verbenone Type (Chemotype III)
Chemical Type: Ketone (Borneone-Acetate Verbenone)

Main Biochemical Constituents:
Monoterpenes - a-Pinene (22 %). b-Pinene, Camphene,
Myrcene, Limonene, a-Terpinene, Terpinolene
Sesquiterpenes - b-Caryophyllene
Alcohols - Borneol (up to 7 %), a-Terpineol, Terpinene-4-ol
Esters - Borneol Acetate
Ketones - Verbenone (up to 37 %), Camphor (up to 15 %)
Oxides - 1,8-Cineole (up to 19 %)

References: Suggestions for further research
Gunther, E., The Essential Oils Vol. III
Sheppard-Hanger, S., The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual
Lawless, J., Encyclopedia of Essential Oils
Sinclair Rohde, E., The Old English Herbals
Valnet, Jean, The Practice of Aromatherapy

* Malte Hozzel, Treasures From Nature: 32 Essential Oils and Absolutes


Essential Oils of Winter
Essential Oils of Summer
Precious Oils
Rosa Rubiginosa
German Chamomile