Rosemary is often used as a seasoning to add flavor to food. The shrub, an evergreen with a strong wood-like aroma, is also one of the more popular medicinal plants often found in folk medicine and is now being studied more widely by the scientific community. In essential oil form, rosemary is very potent and sold in small bottles. Rosemary essential oil uses often involve topical or aromatic methods. Each method has its own key benefits. Keep reading to learn all about rosemary oil benefits for hair, stress, pain, and more!
Rosemary Essential Oil Benefits
A lot of the benefits of rosemary essential oils were anecdotal as people following folk medicine practices handed down their knowledge of benefits from one generation to the next. The many benefits, and a few which have been backed somewhat by studies, include:
- Strengthen memory
- Improve hair growth
- Pain relief
- Stress relief
- Potentially increase circulation
- Reduce joint inflammation
- Boost Immune System
Rosemary Essential Oil Uses
When you use essential oils, there are often two main ways to use the oils properly:
Topical Usage Directions
Applying rosemary topically is very common, as the oil will absorb into the bloodstream. If you’re using your essential oil for pain relief, applying close or directly on the patch of skin where pain exists seems to work best.
Due to essential oils being very potent, direct application to the skin often leads to skin irritation. Lowering the risk of irritation requires you to use a carrier oil to dilute the oils. A carrier oil can be:
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
Any carrier oil will suffice. Dilution levels should be as follows:
- Babies should have their oil diluted to 0.3%
- Children should have their oil diluted to 1%
- Adults should not use over a 4% dilution level
For an adult, you would mix five or six drops of the oil into a teaspoon of the carrier oil and mix the two together well. Now, you’re ready to apply the oil to the area of the skin where pain exists (if you are trying to treat for pain). Rosemary can also be combined with DMSO for extra efficacy and benefits.
Be sure to rub the mixture into the skin for the best results.
If you’re trying to use the oil for brain benefits or other non-pain or targeted benefits, you can also apply it to the bottom of your feet. Avoid placing near the eyes or near areas of the body where the skin is damaged or an open cut or sore exists.
Aromatherapy or Inhalation Usage
Rosemary essential oils have long been used as a form of aromatherapy, and they can also be placed on a hot towel to breathe it in. Your diffuser, if you choose this method, should have directions that tell you the best method for adding in different essential oils.
Typically, it’s not advised to use a diffuser near babies or children because it’s too difficult to control the amount that they’ll be inhaling.
Inhalation can also be done by placing a few drops of the oil on a tissue or towel and breathing it in. You can dampen the towel, warm it up and place a few drops of oil on it, too. Aromatherapy does more than just offer a pleasant scent when the oil is diffused. One meta-analysis found that aromatherapy was able to reduce pain in participants.
Note: Rosemary oil should be avoided if you’re pregnant, suffer from high blood pressure, or have a history of epilepsy.
Rosemary Essential Oil Studies
While there are a lot of rosemary essential oil uses, studies are still being done on the most popular folk medicine uses. The studies that show the most promise and benefit are:
Rosemary For Brain Function Studies
Since the times of the ancient Romans and Greeks, people have thought that rosemary was able to provide a positive impact on a person’s overall memory. While the idea of rosemary helping the brain is thousands of years old, there have been recent studies to back this claim. One study with 20 young adults involved inhaling rosemary oil.
Although the study had a small sample size, it was found that participants experienced:
- Faster speeds when answering math questions
- Higher accuracy when answering questions
Research also shows that rosemary offers protection to acetylcholine in the brain. This chemical is very important because it is responsible for concentration, memory, and thinking.
A study on participants that suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease found that inhaling rosemary helped improve brain function in participants.
Rosemary For Pain Relief Studies
One of the key rosemary essential oil benefits is pain relief. People have long used this essential oil to help provide relief for all kinds of pain, from shoulder pain to back pain. Researchers are just finding out that rosemary may provide more relief than acetaminophen.
A two-week study involving stroke survivors was conducted where the oil was used in acupressure therapy. The therapy lasted for 20 minutes and the oil was massaged into the areas that hurt the most.
The control group only received acupressure and not the rosemary essential oil.
At the end of the two-week period, the group that used rosemary essential oils noted a 30% reduction in pain, while the control group noted a 15% reduction in pain. The rosemary was more effective than general over-the-counter pain relievers.
Rosemary is known for stimulating circulation, which can help with many types of pain including nerve pain. It can also relax muscle fibers to further provide relief. Massage the oil into the area where pain exists to find relief.
Rosemary Oil Benefits For Hair Studies
Stimulating hair growth may be possible for people that are suffering from male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia. Rosemary has been shown to prevent the testosterone known for attacking hair follicles.
The hormone won’t attack the follicles, helping with potential hair loss.
Participants in the study massaged the essential oil into their scalp twice per day over a period of six months. Interestingly, the results of the study demonstrated that rosemary essential oil worked as well as minoxidil for treating male pattern baldness.
The lack of side effects was also noted. Participants didn’t mention scalp irritation, nor did they have the itching that is associated with minoxidil.
Patchy hair loss was the focus of an additional study. The study involved rubbing a rosemary essential oil blend into the scalp for a period of seven months. Approximately 44% of the participants showed hair loss improvement.
Studies On Rosemary For Stress Relief
Stress impacts everyone from adolescents to adults. Multiple studies have been done in this area, with more research needed as the study size has been relatively small. One study found that rosemary oil was able to alter pulse rate to alleviate short-term stress and anxiety.
Young adults were the focus of another study and inhaled rosemary essential oils. The study measured the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the participants’ saliva. After inhaling rosemary for a period of five minutes, it was found that:
- Cortisol levels fell 23% in saliva
- Non-aromatic compounds did not produce the same results
Cortisol is generally not good for you and can lead to insomnia, mood swings, and even suppress your immune system when cortisol levels are high.
Rosemary oil has also been shown to help improve circulation, reduce joint inflammation and provide a general uptick in energy and mood. This essential oil is one of the most popular oils among herbalists and alternative medicine practitioners.
The benefits of rosemary essential oils, along with the minimal side effects, make it a good option to keep in the cupboard and use for a variety of conditions, from pain to poor circulation.