A common culinary herbs - especially during the holidays - Rosemary has a lot more to offer than simply good taste. From immune health to improving brain function, it is really a superb herbal friend.
Ways to Consume
Consuming fresh rosemary is best as the vital oils are still in tact, offering not only a more subtle and well-rounded flavor, but also powerful health benefits. Whereas dried rosemary can have a stronger therapeutic effect due to its concentration, it can also impart a more bitter flavor to foods. The third way to use rosemary is as an essential oil - either adding a drop or two of high quality food-grade oil to recipes, blending in topical applications or diffusing into the air.
In general, culinary herbs (dried or fresh) cannot provide therapeutic results equivalent to those revealed in clinical trials due to the nature of proportion in consumption- but, a little bit on a frequent basis can offer long-term preventative health benefits and absolutely assist in recovery.
For a more therapeutic dose, rosemary can be taken in capsule, tincture or infusion form, but its best to consult an herbalist for the right method and dose for you.
What It Does
Rosemary is a hearty plant - much different from many fresh culinary herbs that are more delicate in their natural state. With a strong stem, deep roots and robust leaves, the rosemary plant can often survive through inclement weather and even the winter months. We can use this information to parallel its effect on the body via the "doctrine of signatures" - or the notion that plants mimic certain aspects or areas of the body they can heal.
Below are eight reasons why rosemary is such a powerful protector for our system:
1. Increase Cognitive Function:
As a cognitive stimulant, rosemary is said to improve memory and increase intelligence and focus. It has been linked to improved cognitive ability in the eldery suffering from acute cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's or dementia.
2. Immune Booster:
Rosemary has anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties through various vital constituents like rosmarinic acid, betulic acid, and carnosol. While it offers a potent line of defense for the immune system in general, it has a particular affinity for bacterial infections of the stomach.
3. Circulatory Stimulant:
Rosemary promotes circulation in the body by increasing the production of red blood cells and naturally stimulating blood flow - ensuring oxygenation of vital organs and muscle systems in the body.
4. Pain Relief:
By increasing circulation to areas of the body experiencing pain, rosemary is also anti-spasmodic and offers significant pain relief for muscular pain like sciatica or neuralgia and even migraine headaches when applied externally to the affected area.
5. Mood Elevator:
Rosemary has natural anti-depressant properties and can elevate mood - especially when associated with tension, anxiety, hormone imbalance or debility. Aromatherapy is a great way to maximize these mood boosting benefits, or applying topically through a salve or oil preparation.
6. Stomach Soother:
In addition to anti-bacterial properties, rosemary has the natural ability to soothe digestive upset - especially when accompanied by psychological tension. Sip on rosemary tea or add fresh rosemary to your meal to utilize these benefits.
7. Recovery from Stress:
Rosemary offers nutritive benefits in recovering from chronic stress or illness, in addition to combating both of those situations through its circulatory and mood elevating effects.
8. Premature Baldness:
With the ability to stimulate hair follicle growth and improve circulation, rosemary has been used in cases of premature baldness. The topical application of rosemary essential oil to the affected area is the most potent therapeutic protocol.
Sources: Essential Oil Desk Reference, p 78-79; Medical Herbalism, p 577-578
Rosemary Crock-Pot Pulled Pork
Rosemary is a delightful addition to many recipes - simply toss a sprig into your soup or broth for added flavor, add a roughly chopped portion to your favorite meat or vegetable recipes or inhale the aroma through an essential oil diffuser.
The below recipe was adapted by my dear friend and colleague, Leah Keller of The Dia Method and is a delicious (and simple) liven up the traditional pulled pork recipes with fresh rosemary. Enjoy!
- 1 - 4 lb. pork loin roast
- 1/3 cup dry wine (white or rose)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- coarse sea salt (to taste, about 1 Tbsp)
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
- freshly ground black pepper (to taste, about 1-2 tsp)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- a few springs of fresh rosemary, chopped
- a few springs of fresh thyme, chopped
Generously coat the roast with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place in a slow cooker with the milk, wine and fresh garlic and herbs. Cook on low for 8 hours. If desired, place the salted roast and contents in the crock the night before - then cover and refrigerate. In the morning, remove the crock from the fridge and cook on low for 8 hours.
Before serving, pull the roast apart with two forks and allow the meat to steep in the juices. Great served with a side of sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables, a fresh salad, and/or cabbage roasted in butter.