Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant evergreen needle-like leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which also includes many other herbs.
The name rosemary has nothing to do with the rose or the name Mary, but derives from the Latin name rosmarinus, which is from "dew" (ros) and "sea" (marinus), or "dew of the sea" — apparently because it is frequently found growing near the sea.
Hungary Water was first prepared for the Queen of Hungary to "renovate vitality of paralyzed limbs" and to treat gout. It was used externally and prepared by mixing fresh rosemary tops into spirits of wine.
Rosemary has a very old reputation for improving memory, and has been used as a symbol for remembrance (during weddings, war commemorations and funerals) in Europe and Australia. Mourners would throw it into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ophelia says, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance." (Hamlet, iv. 5.)
One modern study lends some credence to this reputation. When the smell of rosemary was pumped into cubicles where people were working, those people showed improved memory, though with slower recall.
In the Middle Ages, rosemary was associated with wedding ceremonies - the bride would wear a rosemary headpiece and the groom and wedding guests would all wear a sprig of rosemary, and from this association with weddings rosemary evolved into a love charm. Newly wed couples would plant a branch of rosemary on their wedding day. If the branch grew it was a good omen for the union and family.
In ‘A Modern Herbal’, Mrs Grieves says “A rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribands of all colors, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty.” Another example of rosemary’s use as a love charm was that a young person would tap another with a rosemary sprig and if the sprig contained an open flower, it was said that the couple would fall in love.
Rosemary was used as a divinatory herb-several types of herbs were grown in pots and assigned the name of a potential lover. Then they were left to grow and the plant that grew the strongest and fastest gave the answer. Rosemary was also stuffed into poppets (cloth dolls) in order to attract a lover or attract curative vibrations for illness. It was believed that placing a sprig of rosemary under a pillow before sleep would repel nightmares, and if placed outside the home it would repel witches.
Somehow, the use of rosemary in the garden to repel witches turned into signification that the woman ruled the household in homes and gardens where rosemary grew abundantly. By the 16th century, this practise became a bone of contention; and men were known to rip up rosemary bushes to show that they, not their wives, ruled the roost.
Potential medicinal use
The results of a study suggest that carnosic acid, found in rosemary, may shield the brain from free radicals, lowering the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's.
1,8 Cineol (Eucalyptol) (38-55%)
Limonene (1-4%) ORAC: 330 µTE/100g
Rosemary was part of the "Marseilles Vinegar" or "Four Thieves Vinegar" used by grave-robbing bandits to protect themselves during the 15th century plague. The name of the oil is derived from the Latin words for dew of the sea (ros + marinus). According to folklore history, rosemary originally had white flowers; however, they turned red after the Virgin Mary laid her cloak on the bush.
Since the time of ancient Greece (about 1000 BC), rosemary was burnt as incense. Later cultures believed that it warded off devils, a practice that eventually became adopted by the sick who then burned rosemary to protect against infection. It was listed in Hildegard's Medicine, a compilation of early German medicines by highly-regarded Benedictine herbalist Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179).
Until recently, French hospitals used rosemary to disinfect the air.
Liver-protecting, antitumoral, antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, enhances mental clarity/ concentration. Infectious disease, liver conditions/ hepatitis, throat/lung infections, hair loss (alopecia areata), impaired memory/ Alzheimers.
Rosemary contains a number of potentially biologically active compounds, including antioxidants such as carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid. Other bioactive compounds include caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, rosmaridiphenol, and rosmanol.