Rosemary is an evergreen shrub that’s native to countries around the Mediterranean Sea. It’s now grown in areas of North America and grows best in warm, sunny climates. Rosemary is related to mint and features pine-like needles with a silvery-green color. Though the needles are only 2-4 cm long, the plant can grow up to five feet.1,2,3,4
Rosemary is widely used in cooking for its flavor, but it’s also used as a fragrance in various cosmetics. Rosemary is available as dried leaves, in powdered capsules, teas, liquid extracts, and volatile oil. While many forms of rosemary can be taken orally, its oil should only be used topically since it can be toxic when ingested.2
Rosemary Uses and Health Benefits
Rosemary benefits many body processes. Its leaf has been used in herbal medicine to help improve memory, stimulate hair growth, relieve muscle spasms, and support the nervous and circulatory systems. It’s also been said to treat indigestion and increase urine flow. Among rosemary benefits, it has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, though more research is needed to confirm these effects on humans.2 It also has a stimulatory effect.5
Consider using this natural herb for the following conditions:
Rosemary Side Effects and Precautions
Rosemary is considered safe in recommended doses. In large quantities, rosemary side effects may include:
Rare rosemary side effects can include developing dermatitis after using cosmetic products containing rosemary oil.5 Pregnant women, nursing women, and women who may become pregnant should avoid taking rosemary supplements. Large doses increase menstrual flow and act as an abortifacient, which means it can cause miscarriage.2 However, it is safe to eat rosemary when used as a spice in foods. If you’re concerned about taking rosemary when pregnant, talk to your doctor about how much rosemary is safe for consumption.
Never take rosemary oil orally.2 Its oil should only be used topically or in aromatherapy. If ingested, rosemary oil can cause epileptic convulsions, digestive difficulties, and kidney damage.5 Talk to your doctor if you are taking other herbs or medications to ensure rosemary won’t interact with them.