The scientific interest in traditional herbalism has increased over the years.
Many of the compounds prescribed today are plant extracts, so it makes sense to review traditional knowledge regarding herbal remedies from a practical standpoint. This is because it’s possible to discover new therapeutic pathways among these old remedies.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a plant capable of growing wild in various parts of the world. It likely originated near present-day Iran but spread rapidly throughout the Mediterranean.
Since ancient times, rosemary has been used as a natural remedy for a large number of ailments. These practices are currently being scientifically reviewed to salvage those most beneficial to health.
What is Rosemary Alcohol?
Besides being commonly used as an ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, rosemary has been used by various cultures to treat ailments like renal colic or dysmenorrhea, pains that some women experience during menstruation.
It has also been used to relieve symptoms of respiratory diseases such as asthma or even to alleviate the process of premature baldness. Today, it is used, for example, in aromatherapy circles, to help calm anxiety and improve mental status.
These medicinal characteristics of rosemary can be attributed to the high number of bioactive compounds this plant contains. These include different acids, phenols, and essential oils such as rosmarinic acid, a compound with potent antioxidant properties. This compound is currently under study for its potential benefits in combating cancer and other diseases related to oxidative stress and inflammation.
Rosemary alcohol is a remedy obtained through the extraction of different potentially beneficial compounds from the plant, by maceration in alcohol. The result is an alcoholic solution primarily used topically to treat various skin, circulatory, and inflammatory problems.
The Benefits of This Natural Remedy
Rosemary has been proven effective in various laboratory studies to treat and/or alleviate an enormous amount of disorders and diseases, such as asthma, arteriosclerosis, digestive ulcers, hyperglycemia, anxiety, etc., or even some depressive disorders. Its antimicrobial and antioxidant capacity is already used in the European Union to preserve food as an additive (code E392).
It is essential to distinguish the potential benefits of rosemary as such from those we can derive from the topical use of rosemary alcohol. Many of these effects have not yet been conclusively proven in humans and require other forms of application to be effective (e.g., ingestible doses of different rosemary extracts).
However, rosemary alcohol has been shown to be useful in treating certain disorders and ailments in a straightforward and safe way for most of the population. Here are some of them:
1. Treating Alopecia
One of the most remarkable benefits of rosemary alcohol is its ability to curb the effects of alopecia and general hair loss. A gentle massage with rosemary oil on the scalp can stimulate follicular activity. It prevents hair loss while promoting hair growth.
2. Relieving Cellulite
The effects of rosemary on circulation are very beneficial for a number of ailments and diseases. Some compounds found in rosemary alcohol promote improved blood and lymphatic flow, which prevents and relieves diseases caused by poor circulation.
Although the mechanism of cellulite is not yet well-characterized, most experts agree that it is partly due to poor blood and lymphatic circulation in the affected areas. Rubbing and massaging with rosemary alcohol may relieve cellulite and prevent its recurrence.
3. Relieving Rheumatic Pains
Rheumatic pains are discomforts that affect the joints and connective tissue. Diseases such as gout or certain types of arthritis cause this type of pain, which can be very debilitating and bothersome for those who suffer from it.
The effects of rosemary on joint pain have been proven on an animal level, but require human studies to ensure that they are effective on us as well.
The effects of rosemary on joint pain have been proven on an animal level, but require human studies to ensure that they are effective in humans as well. Traditionally, massages and rubs with rosemary alcohol on painful areas have been effective in reducing the pain they cause.
4. Facilitating Muscle Relaxation
As a topical remedy, the application of rosemary alcohol is very similar in treating various disorders, simply by massaging and/or rubbing it on the skin. In addition to helping with joint pain, it also helps relieve muscle and skeletal pain.
Rosemary alcohol used during a massage improves muscle relaxation, releasing accumulated tensions in the different muscles and increasing the effectiveness of the massage.
5. Decreasing Anxiety
The effects of rosemary and its extracts on the central nervous system are not yet extensively studied in humans, but there are small studies indicating a decrease in anxiety and depressive behaviors in those exposed to the volatile compounds found in rosemary alcohol.
An aromatherapy session using rosemary seems to be useful for reducing anxiety, while improving the perception of reality (also known as Mindfulness) of people who undergo these practices.
6. Relieving Colds and Flu
Like eucalyptus, whose volatile compounds help improve breathing and decrease airway congestion, rosemary alcohol appears to be effective in relieving symptoms of colds and flu, particularly those of congestion and shortness of breath.
To benefit from this effect of rosemary alcohol, we simply apply it to the chest, just like other medicines such as “Vaporub“.
7. Antiparasitic for Veterinary Use
At the veterinary level, rosemary alcohol is also used topically as an antiparasitic, to eliminate parasites while relieving the itching and skin discomfort they cause. Interestingly, it is also used at the veterinary level to prevent hair loss and promote its growth.
Contraindications of Rosemary Alcohol
To conclude, we must warn that rosemary alcohol is a safe remedy for most of the population, but there are certain groups that should refrain from using it, especially if they have not consulted their trusted doctor about the possible risks of using this traditional medicine.
One of these groups is that of pregnant women. Rosemary has certain toxic qualities for embryos (it has traditionally also been used as an abortifacient), so its consumption during pregnancy or lactation is highly discouraged and should be avoided.
Other people who might experience negative effects of rosemary alcohol would be those who take lithium, such as those undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder. Rosemary appears to interact with lithium, increasing its toxicity.
Its improved circulation may be a problem for people with low or high blood pressure, or with coagulation problems, so in these cases, its use is also not recommended without the authorization of a healthcare professional.