Plant Talk: Rosemary

Freshly cut Rosemary from one of my potted plants.

“Rosemary, That’s For Remembrance”

Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus, formerly known as Rosmarinus officinalis) has been venerated and worked with since early antiquity—the herb was even found in first dynasty tombs of the Egyptians. Often used to foster good luck and immunity, it was supposedly part of the infamous “4 Thieves” vinegar used to ward off the plague. Its effect on the mind was rightly immortalized by Shakespeare’s Ophelia when she uttered: “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” The herbalist, William Langham aptly conveyed its stimulating and convivial qualities: “Seethe [boil] much Rosemary and bathe therin to make thee lusty, lively, joyfull, likeing and youngly.” Rosemary is indeed a perfect ally for personal care, immunity, overall health and keeping one “lusty and lively.”

Growing and Harvesting Rosemary

Endemic to the Mediterranean, Rosemary is also known as “sea rose” which is derived from the Latin ros (dew) and marinus (sea). Can you envision swaths of it blooming amongst the rocky, coastal locales of Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and France? This evergreen shrub prefers lean, rocky, limey soils and copious amounts of sun. When considering the essential oil, you’ll find it is mostly grown and produced in the aforementioned parts of the world. Rosemary blooms from March through July in the Northern Hemisphere though its peak time for creating essential oil are from April – June depending on geography. Although the flowering tops are collected, a superior oil comes from the leaves and flowers meaning the stem is removed before distillation. Similar to lavender (also in the Lamiaceae family), how the shrub is cut is important as it does not like to be drastically sheared (meaning don’t go too low).

Rosemary is warming, stimulating, fortifying and clearing. Yet also fresh, playful, penetrating and dispersive making it a brilliant oil for dispelling stagnation and conjuring joy.

Affinities and Usage Applications for Rosemary Essential Oil

  • Support emotions and mental states with this “cephalic” as it helps clear brain fog and promotes clarity and focus
    • Consider blending with: peppermint, black pepper, frankincense, lemon (and other citrus), basil or lemongrass
  • Support respiratory health for general infection that presents with catarrh/mucus and to support overall deep breathing
    • Consider blending with: the conifer oils (e.g., Hemlock spruce, white pine, Black Spruce), Frankincense, Myrtle, Thyme linalool or one of the Eucalyptus or Melaleucas
  • Help soothe muscular and arthritic aches and pains
    • Consider blending with black pepper, ginger or the conifers to encourage blood flow and warmth
  • As a stimulating botanical it promotes circulatory health for those with low blood pressure, including those whose extremities run cold (e.g., in a hand cream or salve)
    • Consider blending with the oils listed above…
  • As the HERB it is stimulating to the liver and gall-bladder: combine the fresh or dried herb with rich meals to encourage digestion
  • Include Rosemary (i.e., as an infusion, tincture, hydrosol or essential oil) in skin and hair care formulations for those living with hair loss, oily hair, dandruff or seborrhea
Rosemary growing in a pot in April.

Impressions of Rosemary Essential Oil

Physical Impressions

Rosemary’s molecules penetrate the sinus cavity on impact and rush to the temples with a draining effect on the sinus tissues. In tandem is a stimulating effect on the cardio-vascular system. Energy is drawn into the heart area then expands through the lungs: imagine a heart expanding and contracting. Gil Hedley’s’ “Heart Dance” immediately comes to mind or the feeling of clenching your fist then immediately splaying your fingers to disperse the pent-up energy. Although the molecules feel cooling they are energetically stimulating to actual tissue states in the body. The initial excitation smooths out and pulses through the whole body, conjuring the image of the contracting and expanding heart or hand. Over time there is a caffeine buzz from the active circulation. All of this outward energy crazily brings forth an acceptance of the innate goodness of humanity. Rosemary is not only for remembrance but also for the heart’s soul and compassion.

Aromatic Personality

The initial encounter with Rosemary is an uplifting symphony of sweet-bright-woodsy playing alongside bluely pungent vibrancy. It coolly penetrates the nasal cavity with is sharp and fresh herbaceous notes. A coolness continues to bathe across any tissue it comes in contact with. The dry-down conveys a seductive, woody, smoky and dry aroma—reminiscent of the arid, sun drenched Mediterranean soil. My minds eye sees gravely, sandy soil with images of blue and purple smoke and the signature aroma of frankincense sneaks in. The oil is quite volatile and readily evaporates. What is left are sweetly powdered whispers of herbaceous green wrapped in a cloak of an old home whose wooden floors hold the memories of sun-filled days and the love of great loves.

Aromatherapy Recipes with Rosemary Essential Oil

Brightening Aromatic Spritzer

Use this spritzer for invigorating and clearing your mind in the morning or whenever you need a pick-me-up. The blend of essential oils is not only cephalic but immune supporting too; consider diffusing the essential oil blend to clear not only your mind but the the air around you too!

What you need:

  • 2 ounce glass or PET bottle with spray top
  • Distilled water
  • 8 drops scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • 6 drops juniper berry (Juniperus communis)
  • 6 drops black pepper (Piper nigrum)
  • 6 drops lemon (Citrus limon)
  • 3 drops rosemary ct cineole (Rosmarinus officinalis ct 1,8 cineole)

How to make: Ensure the bottle is new and/or sterilized. Add the essential oils to the bottle followed by the distilled water. Secure the spray top to the bottle and label appropriately. Shake vigorously each time before using to disperse the essential oils. Use daily or as needed. Keep your eyes closed when misting your face.

Aches and Pains Aloe Jelly Rub

Aloe gelly is hydrating, healing and penetrating. It is a wonderful way to deliver essential oils to the body to help ease inflammation, aches and pains, burns and varicose veins.

What you need:

  • 2 ounce PET squeeze bottle with flip top or cap
  • Glass measuring cup
  • 2 ounces aloe gelly
  • 20 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 20 drops frankincense (Boswellia sacra)
  • 10 drops marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
  • 6 drops rosemary ct cineole (Rosmarinus officinalis ct 1,8 cineole)
  • 3 drops roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

How to make: Combine all ingredients in the measuring cup and mix well to incorporate. If possible, whisk with a hand mixer. Once combined, pour the mixture into the bottle. Affix cap and label the bottle.

How to use: Apply as needed to the pain site. (Optional: Store in the refrigerator to prolong shelf-life.)

Squeaky-Clean Body Glow

Scrubs are wonderful for stimulating circulation and removing dead skin to preparing the body for a nourishing body cream or oil. Adding stimulating essential oils to a scrub enhances circulation, boosts immunity and brightens the mind.

What you need:

  • Container with lid
  • Mixing bowl, measuring cups and a non-reactive spoon
  • 2 cups Sea Salt (fine to medium sized granules)
  • ½ cup nut or seed oil (e.g., sunflower, almond, olive oil)
  • 10 drops Green Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
  • 10 drops Spike Lavender (Lavandula spicata)
  • 5 drops Rosemary ct cineole (Rosmarinus officinalis ct 1,8 cineole)
  • 3 drops Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia viridiflora)
  • 2 drops Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

How to make: Mix the salt and nut/seed oil in the mixing bowl. Add the essential oils to the mixture and stir well until all ingredients are combined. Transfer the mixture to the container, cap it with the lid and affix a label.

How to use: Wet your skin in the tub or shower then turn off the water. Take a small amount of the scrub and apply it to the desired areas of your body using quick, vigorous strokes or long, slow strokes—get the circulation moving. Rinse off the scrub with a warm shower. Avoid using the scrub on delicate areas of the body such as your face as salt creates micro-tears. Recommended use: 3 to 4 times per month.

Need more Rosemary in your life? Watch the below Plant Talk Episode where we explore Rosemary as it’s distilled in one of my copper stills.

Note: the sound comes in around 30 seconds. Such is the nature of these impromptu videos! Seize the day and growing season!


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