Rosemary oil What are its benefits?



Rosemary oil is a natural elixir for well-being and beauty, which, among other virtues, improves circulation and relieves muscle pain, making it ideal for a massage.

Rosemary is much more than just a aroma for the kitchen. In Spain it has been, for centuries, an essential ingredient in gastronomy, but essential rosemary oil, with its distinctive smell of wood and herbs, is a treasure of nature with multiple benefits for health and beauty.

What is the origin of rosemary oil?

Let’s start at the beginning: rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial plant with thin leaves that belongs to the Lamiaceae family, like other aromatic herbs such as oregano, basil and thyme. Native to the Mediterranean region, this shrub can grow up to one and a half meters in height and reaches up to 20 years of age, with ideal environmental conditions.

The origin of the name “rosemary” is the subject of debate, but one of the most beautiful and accepted theories suggests that it was baptized by the Romans, who valued it for its intense and pleasant fragrance. Thus, rosemary would come from the Latin term “ros maris”, which means “dew of the sea”. This hypothesis is based on the natural affinity of wild rosemary for the coastal areas of the Mediterranean, where it usually grows in abundance.

Rosemary prefers warm, sunny and relatively dry climates, which explains its wide distribution in the Iberian Peninsula, where extensive fields of this plant are cultivated. Their precious essential oil is extracted from these crops.

Since when has rosemary oil been produced?

The practice of distilling essential oils, including rosemary oil, dates back several centuries, although the exact date of its origin is difficult to pin down. Distillation as a technique developed around the 10th century, with the significant advances of Arab alchemy. Muslim alchemists, particularly those working in the region that is now Persia and Iran, played a crucial role in the development and refinement of the distillation of essential oils.

As for rosemary oil, specifically, its distillation is believed to have begun sometime during the Middle Ages. The distillation of plants to obtain essential oils became popular in Europe during this period, especially with the proliferation of studies on medicinal plants and herbaria. Rosemary, being an herb widely used for both its culinary and medicinal properties, was one of the many botanicals subjected to distillation during this era.

How is rosemary oil produced?

To produce essential oils such as rosemary oil, a process known as steam distillation using an alembic is used. This method is one of the most efficient and common methods for extracting essential oils from plants and, although today it has already been industrialized, it began as a completely artisanal and small-scale process.

The process begins in a cooking chamber, where the plant material is placed, in this case, the plant from which you want to extract the oil, the rosemary leaves. This chamber is connected to a heat source.

Below the cooking chamber, there is a water tank that is heated until it turns into steam. This steam is the agent that will facilitate the extraction of the essential oil from the plant. The hot steam rises into the chamber where the plant material is located, opening the plant cells and releasing the essential oil.

This vapor, now loaded with essential oil molecules, is conducted through the piping system to a condenser. In the condenser, the vapor cools and transforms back into a liquid.

The resulting water and essential oil mixture is collected in a container. Since essential oil is generally less dense than water, it separates and floats on the surface, allowing it to be easily collected, even by decanting. The remaining water, known as hydrosol, may also have beneficial properties and can be collected for use.

This steam distillation method is very effective for obtaining high-quality essential rosemary oil, as it allows the aromatic and therapeutic compounds of the plant to be extracted without degrading them with excessive heat. Furthermore, this method is relatively simple and can be carried out at different scales, from small artisanal stills to large industrial operations.

What properties does rosemary oil have?

Plants have been a vital source of medicine and wellness since ancient times, offering a rich variety of healing and therapeutic properties. Rosemary stands out for its versatility and the wide spectrum of benefits it offers, both in the culinary and medicinal fields. But are plants really medicinal? Well, science has shown that it does, and this is thanks to its active ingredients.

The active ingredient of a plant refers to its chemical components that are responsible for its therapeutic or pharmacological effects. These substances are the result of plant metabolic processes and can vary in type and concentration depending on the plant species, growing conditions, the part of the plant used (such as leaves, roots, flowers, seeds), and the processing method. Rosemary oil, being the result of the distillation of this plant, thus contains all its chemicals.

The active ingredients of plants are the basis of many traditional and modern medicines. For example, morphine, a powerful analgesic, is the active ingredient in opium, which is extracted from the poppy. Another example is aspirin, originally derived from salicylic acid, found in willow bark. Nowadays these chemicals are synthesized, lowering costs.

These compounds can have a variety of effects on the human body, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiviral, or antibacterial properties.

Why is rosemary oil a cognitive stimulant?

Rosemary oil is considered a cognitive stimulant due to several bioactive components it has, the most notable being 1,8-cineole. This substance, also present in other plants such as eucalyptus, has been studied for its influence on brain functions. Rosemary oil is known to improve memory, concentration and mental focus. Its aroma is used in aromatherapy to combat mental fatigue and improve clarity. We present the properties of rosemary oil as a stimulant:
  1. Effect on brain function: The 1,8-cineole in rosemary may affect brain activity. Studies have suggested that this component can increase the efficiency of cognitive processes, such as memory, attention and concentration.
  2. Memory improvement: Some research indicates that the aroma of rosemary oil can improve the quality of memory and increase long-term retentivity.
  3. Central nervous system stimulation: Rosemary may have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system, helping to improve mental alertness and reduce feelings of mental fatigue.
  4. Antioxidant and neuroprotective properties: The antioxidants in rosemary oil can protect brain cells from free radical damage. This is important for maintaining healthy brain function and could have beneficial effects in preventing age-related cognitive decline.
  5. Improved cerebral blood flow: It has been suggested that rosemary may improve blood circulation in the brain, leading to greater oxygenation and potentially better cognitive performance. li>
  6. Stress and anxiety reduction: Although not directly related to cognitive stimulation, rosemary’s calming effect on the mind may contribute to better focus and mental clarity by reducing stress and anxiety , which are factors that can negatively affect cognition.

How does rosemary oil promote hair growth?

Rosemary oil can improve scalp circulation, which helps stimulate hair growth. It is also used to prevent hair loss and can be effective in treating dandruff and dry scalp. The mechanisms behind these effects are varied and are supported by various research, which has pointed out these benefits of rosemary oil for hair:
  1. Improved blood circulation: Rosemary oil can stimulate blood circulation in the scalp. Better circulation means more nutrients and oxygen reach the hair follicles, which is essential for healthy hair growth.
  2. Anti-inflammatory effects: Inflammation of the scalp can lead to hair loss or slow growth. Rosemary oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation and keep the scalp healthy.
  3. Anti-microbial properties: This oil also has antimicrobial properties, meaning it can help keep the scalp free of infections and fungi that could inhibit hair growth.
  4. DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) Blocking: DHT is a hormone associated with hair loss, especially in cases of androgenic alopecia or male pattern baldness. Some studies suggest that rosemary oil can inhibit the production of DHT, helping to prevent hair loss related to this hormone.
  5. Hair follicle nutrition: the nutrients and antioxidants present in rosemary oil can nourish hair follicles, strengthening hair and preventing hair loss.

Does rosemary oil relieve pain?

Rosemary oil is effective in relieving pain due to several pharmacological properties inherent to its components.
  1. Anti-inflammatory properties: rosemary contains compounds such as rosmarinic acid and 1,8-cineole, which have anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds help reduce inflammation in the body, which is a common cause of pain, especially in conditions such as arthritis.
  2. Analgesic effects: rosemary oil also has natural analgesic properties. These effects can relieve pain by acting on pain receptors in the body or reducing inflammatory mediators that cause pain.
  3. Improved blood circulation: Topical application of rosemary oil can stimulate blood circulation. Better circulation helps reduce muscle pain and tension by increasing blood flow to affected areas, providing oxygen and nutrients that facilitate healing.
  4. Muscle relaxing effects: Rosemary oil can help relax tense or spasmodic muscles, making it useful in the treatment of muscle pain, spasms and cramps.
  5. Reducing stress and tension: When used in aromatherapy, rosemary oil can reduce stress and tension, which in turn can decrease the perception of pain. Stress often aggravates pain conditions, so relieving mental tension can have a beneficial effect on relieving physical pain.

Does rosemary oil have anti-oxidant properties?

Yes, rosemary oil is known for its antioxidant properties. This quality is due to several bioactive compounds present in the oil, including carnosic acid, carnosol and rosmarinic acid. These antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals in the body, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to aging and various diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

Rosemary oil contains several antioxidant compounds that contribute to its beneficial properties. These antioxidants include:
  1. Carnosic acid: this compound is one of the most powerful antioxidants found in rosemary. Carnosic acid is especially effective in neutralizing various types of free radicals.
  2. Carnosol: Another significant antioxidant in rosemary oil, carnosol also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is effective against free radicals and can help protect against oxidative stress.
  3. Rosmarinic Acid: Known for its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, rosmarinic acid is effective in fighting free radicals and is found in several aromatic plants in addition to rosemary.
  4. Eugenol: this compound, which is also found in other essential oils such as clove, has antioxidant properties.
  5. Betacaryophyllene: is a terpene present in rosemary oil that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  6. Ursolic and Oleanolic: these triterpenic acids present in rosemary have antioxidant properties and are being investigated for their potential in the prevention and treatment of diseases.

Does rosemary oil have antimicrobial and antiseptic properties?

Rosemary oil has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, meaning it can help inhibit the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These properties are due to several bioactive compounds present in the oil:
  1. Cineol (or Eucalyptol): this is one of the main components of rosemary oil and is known for its antimicrobial properties, being effective against a variety of bacteria and fungi.
  2. Camhor (Camphor): has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, and is useful in disinfection and protection against microbial infections.
  3. Carnosic Acid and Carnosol: both compounds, which we have already seen in these lines, also contribute to the antimicrobial properties of rosemary oil, helping to combat certain pathogens.
  4. Terpenes such as Pinene and Limonene: these compounds have antimicrobial effects and are found in several essential oils, including rosemary.

In addition, its use in aromatherapy can help purify the air, reducing the presence of pathogenic microorganisms, and helping in the next point.

Does rosemary oil help you breathe better?

Rosemary oil can have positive effects on the respiratory system due to several of its components. It is important to use rosemary oil appropriately, especially when it comes to inhalation or topical application. Diffusion into the air or inhalation through a vaporizer can be effective methods to take advantage of its respiratory benefits:
  1. Antimicrobial properties: Rosemary oil has antimicrobial properties that can help fight respiratory infections caused by bacteria or viruses.
  2. Decongestant: cineole, one of the components of rosemary oil, is known for its expectorant and decongestant properties. It can help relieve nasal and lung congestion, making breathing easier in cases of colds, flu or allergies.
  3. Anti-inflammatory effect: Compounds in rosemary oil, such as carnosic acid and carnosol, possess anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial in reducing inflammation in the airways, which is useful in conditions such as bronchitis.
  4. Relaxing effect: The aroma of rosemary oil can have a relaxing and calming effect on the body, which can be beneficial for people who suffer from respiratory conditions aggravated by stress, such as asthma.
  5. Improved lung function: Rosemary oil can help improve lung function and respiratory capacity, which is particularly useful for people with chronic respiratory diseases.

Does rosemary oil have digestive health benefits?

Rosemary oil may offer several benefits for digestive health. Rosemary oil should be properly diluted before use, and consumption in large quantities is not recommended due to possible side effects or interactions with other medications. Its carminative, antispasmodic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties contribute in different ways to improving digestive function:
  1. Relieves gas and bloating: Thanks to its carminative properties, rosemary oil can help relieve gas buildup in the stomach and intestines, reducing bloating and discomfort.< /li>
  2. Anti-spasmodic effect: it can help relieve intestinal spasms, which is useful in cases of stomach cramps or irritable bowel syndrome.
  3. Antimicrobial properties: by inhibiting the growth of certain bacteria and fungi, rosemary oil can help maintain the balance of intestinal flora and prevent or treat digestive infections.
  4. Stimulation of digestion: rosemary oil can stimulate the production of bile and gastric acids, helping to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
  5. Anti-inflammatory effect: its anti-inflammatory components can help reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, benefiting people with inflammatory conditions such as colitis.

Are the properties of rosemary oil obtained through massage?

The properties of rosemary oil can be effectively absorbed through the skin during a massage. As we saw in the entry on Thai aromatic massage, we use oils for their properties. Thanks to transdermal absorption, the small molecules of essential oils penetrate the outer layers of the skin, allowing their active compounds to reach the underlying tissue and bloodstream. This makes rosemary oil particularly useful for relieving muscle pain, joint stiffness and inflammation thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Additionally, massaging with this oil can help relax tense muscles and improve circulation, thus benefiting muscle recovery and reducing fatigue. At the skin level, its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties can improve the health and appearance of the skin. In addition to the physical benefits, the aroma-therapeutic effects of rosemary oil, such as calming and mental revitalization, are experienced during the massage through inhalation of its aroma.

What are rosemary flowers like? Are they used to make rosemary oil?

Rosemary flowers are much more than a beautiful decoration for this aromatic plant. Small and tubular in shape, they are grouped in clusters that adorn the plant, providing a striking visual contrast with their dense green foliage and dark stem. Predominantly pale blue, the flowers can also vary in shades of white, pink or lilac, and each is just a few millimeters long.

Rosemary generally blooms in the spring, although in warmer, more temperate climates, the plant can have a long flowering period that extends into summer and even fall. This long flowering season makes it especially valuable for pollinating insects.

Speaking of pollinators, rosemary flowers are very attractive to a variety of beneficial insects. Bees, in particular, are attracted to rosemary because of its rich source of nectar and pollen. In addition to bees, butterflies and some types of flies also feed on the nectar of its flowers. This attraction of pollinators is not only beneficial for the plant, which receives help in its pollination process, but also for the garden in general, since these insects contribute to the pollination of other plants.

Rosemary flowers, although fragrant and attractive, are not the main source for the production of rosemary oil. Generally, rosemary oil is distilled from the leaves of the plant, which are rich in the aromatic and bioactive compounds that give the oil its known characteristics and benefits.

The leaves contain a higher concentration of essential oils compared to the flowers. These oils include compounds such as cineole, camphor, carnosic acid and others, which are responsible for the therapeutic and aromatic properties of rosemary oil. During the steam distillation process, these substances are effectively extracted from the leaves.

Although it would technically be possible to distill oil from rosemary flowers, the yield would be considerably lower and the process less efficient compared to using the leaves. Additionally, the leaves are available in greater quantities and throughout the year, making them more practical for large-scale oil production.

We are committed to natural care

In our Thai sanctuary in Barcelona we believe in natural care, taking advantage of the properties of the active ingredients of plants to care for, nourish and relax the body. Our massages are born from tradition, respect for ancestral wisdom, balance with the environment, that is why we use these natural products, such as rosemary oil, to create the best treatments.

Treat yourself to a massage with essential oils!
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