(Last Updated on : 11/07/2011)
Rosemary leaves possess high medicinal value. Rosemary is a leafy, exotic and evergreen shrub which grows up to a height of two meters. It has narrow leaves and few flowers in axillary racemes; white or bluish or pale violet; smooth nutlets, ovoid sub-globose. The botanical name of this shrub is Rosmarinus officinalis and it belongs to the family Lamiaceae.
It is known as Rusmary in Hindi language
. Rosemary is not a very popular herb in India. It was perhaps introduced in India by Europeans as garden plant mainly for its pleasantly fragrant leaves, limited only in cool places and hill stations where the colonial rulers used to stay during the summer season. Leaves of Rosemary are narrow and are about 2.5 centimetres in length, and they look like curved pine needles. The dried leaves are popular as flavouring agent and spice.
Rosemary was named by the 18th century naturalist Carolus Linnaeus. These leaves have not undergone much taxonomical change. The name of rosemary has originated from the Latin words Ros Marinus. Today the name of goddess Aphrodite is found to be associated with Rosemary.
Rosemary grows well on friable loam soil with good drainage in complete sun. It grows best in neutral to alkaline conditions pH (pH 7-7.8) with good fertility.
Composition of Rosemary leaves
The leaves of Rosemary contain tannin, saponin, ursolic acid, amyrins, betulin, carnosic acid and rosemarinic acid. The dried rosemary leaves, on steam distillation, yield one to two percent of a volatile oil, known in the trade as `Oil of Rosemary`, used in perfumery and medicine. A phenolic fraction possessing anti-oxidant properties has been isolated from the leaves and also from the oil. Volatile oil is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves, flowering tops and twigs. India imports its entire requirement since no attempt has been made so far in this country to produce this oil. The chief constituents of the oil are camphene, pinene, cineol, borneol, camphor and bornyl acetate
Dried rosemary leaves contain 5.7 percent moisture 4.5 percent protein, 19 percent fibre, 47.4 percent carbohydrates, 6.0 percent total ash, 1.5 percent calcium, 0.70 percent phosphorus, 0.03 percent iron, 0.04 percent sodium, 1.0 percent potassium, Vitamin A - 175 I.U/100 gram, Vitamin B - 1:0.51 mg/100 gram, 0.04 percent Vitamin B2, 1.0 percent Niacin, Vitamin C - 61.3 mg/100 gram and Calorific value - 440 calories/100 gram.
Uses of Rosemary Leaves
Rosemary leaves provide a piny pungent and lingering aroma which also adds flavour to a large number of unusual foods as well as several every day non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes. Freshly sliced Rosemary leaves impart a flavour to jam, sweet sauces and herb butter. It also helps in digestion after a banquet and it also refreshes the body and mind. It is also used in preparing cheese, biscuits, soup, sauces and various non-vegetarian foods. It is also used in preparing wine, Rosemary tea, etc.
Benefits of Rosemary Leaves
For diuretic disorder, diuretic tea is prepared by taking one tea spoon leaves and the same is boiled with Lovage
and Juniper. Rosemary water (Rosemary steeped in boil water) betters the skin, and is also used as a hair wash. It also helps in the growth of hair. It cures weak digestion, flatulence, neuralgic pains and the circulation of blood is stimulated by the use of rosemary. It widens the tissues where it is applied and also acts as a room freshener; twigs are burnt to give the aroma. It is used as a moth repellent with other herbs. Fresh tender tops are used for garnishing and for flavouring cold drinks, soups, pickles and other foods. Rosemary leaves are also used as a condiment; powdered and dried, the leaves are added to von-vegetarian as well as vegetarian dishes, jams and preserves.
is used primarily in cheap perfumery, hair lotions, scenting of soaps and denatured alcohol. It is also employed in inhalants and room sprays. Higher quality of the `Oil of Rosemary` is used in the blending of eau-de-cologne and in flavouring sausages, soups and other food products including both vegetarian and non-vegetarian items. Each and every part of the Rosemary plant is sour or bitter in taste and it serves as a good excellent stomachic and a nerving tonic. A mixture of the Rosemary plant with borax is used for hair washing and is reported to check premature baldness.
The oil of Rosemary is used in medicinal preparations and as an ingredient in rubefacient liniments. It is mildly irritating and has been used as a carminative. The oil exhibits anti-bacterial and protistocidal activity. Dried Rosemary leaves are smoked for the relief of asthma
. Rosemary leaves are used for vapour baths for the relief of paralysis, rheumatism, etc. Pressed juice of the leaves possesses a strong anti-bacterial action on Staphylococcus aureus, E.coli etc.