Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves carrying short, dense wooly hairs. It is native to the Mediterranean region in Europe, and is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which contains many other herbs.
Cultivation and uses
The fresh and dried leaves are used frequently in traditional Mediterranean cuisine as a herb; they have a bitter, astringent taste, which complements a wide variety of foods. Rosemary is extremely high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6.
When grown in pots (recommended in Costa Rica), it is best kept trimmed fairly short to prevent it becoming too straggly and unsightly. Like most herbs, it prefers a sandy soil and does not like too much of any kind of fertilizer.
Rosemary has a very old reputation for improving memory, and has been used as a symbol for remembrance. When the smell of rosemary was pumped into cubicles where people were working, those people showed improved memory, though with slower recall. A study shows that carnosic acid, found in rosemary, shields the brain from free radicals, lowering the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's. It is also said to be useful in the prevention and treatment of headlice.
In some cases, rosemary can cause autoimmune diseases. Rosemary in culinary or therapeutic doses is generally safe, however precaution is necessary for those displaying allergic reaction, or those prone to epileptic seizure. Rosemary essential oil is a powerful convulsant; if applied to the skin, it may cause seizures in otherwise healthy adults or children. Rosemary essential oil is potentially toxic if ingested. Large quantities of rosemary leaves can cause adverse reactions, such as coma, spasm, vomiting, and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) that can be fatal. Avoid consuming large quantities of rosemary if pregnant or breastfeeding.
For a safe, general treatment, steep 2oz. Rosemary leaves in 1 pint boiling hot water for 10 min. add the infusion to bath water to stimulate circulation, digestion, and general metabolic activity.
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