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Overview Information

Rosemary is an herb. Oil is extracted from the leaf and used to make medicine.

Rosemary is used for digestion problems, including heartburn, intestinal gas (flatulence), and loss of appetite. It is also used for liver and gallbladder complaints, gout, cough, headache, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, stress, depression, improving memory in healthy adults, reducing age-related memory loss, improving energy and mental tiredness, opioid withdrawal symptoms, sunburn protection, and diabetic kidney disease.

Some women use rosemary for increasing menstrual flow and causing abortions.

Rosemary is applied to the skin for preventing and treating baldness It is also used for treating circulation problems, toothache, gum disease (gingivitis), a skin condition called eczema, muscle pain, pain along the sciatic nerve, and chest wall pain. It is also used for wound healing, in bath therapy (balneotherapy), and as an insect repellent.

In foods, rosemary is used as a spice. The leaf and oil are used in foods, and the oil is used in beverages.

In manufacturing, rosemary oil is used as a fragrant component in soaps and perfumes.

How does it work?

Although it’s not clear how rosemary works for hair loss, applying it to the scalp irritates the skin and increases blood circulation.

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Memory. Taking rosemary 500 milligrams twice daily appears to mildly improve memory in young adults. Also, rosemary aromatherapy seems to improve some measures of memory. Rosemary aromatherapy also seems to increase alertness in healthy adults.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Causing abortions.Taking rosemary by mouth does not seem to cause an abortion.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Age-related mental decline. Early research shows that taking powdered rosemary leaves might improve memory speed in healthy, older adults. However, higher doses seem worsen memory. Other early research shows that taking a product containing rosemary, lemon balm, and sage improves memory in healthy adults 62 years or younger. But it doesn’t seem to improve memory in adults 63 years or older.
  • Patchy hair loss. Early research shows that applying rosemary oil with lavender, thyme, and cedarwood oils to the scalp improves hair growth in some people.
  • Male-pattern baldness. Early research suggests that applying rosemary oil to the scalp is as effective as minoxidil for increasing hair count in people with male-pattern baldness.
  • Arthritis. Early research shows that taking a product containing rosemary, hops, and oleanolic acid (NG440 or Meta050) can reduce pain associated with arthritis.
  • Diabetic kidney damage. A high level of protein in the urine of a diabetes patient is an early marker of diabetic kidney damage. Early research suggests that taking a product containing rosemary, centaury, and lovage (Canephron N by Bionorica) can decrease the amount of protein in the urine when taken with standard antidiabetes medications.
  • Mental tiredness. Early research shows that taking rosemary does not improve attention or mental energy in adults with low energy levels.
  • Fibromyalgia. Early research suggests that that taking a product containing rosemary, hops, and oleanolic acid (Meta050) does not improve symptoms of fibromyalgia.
  • Gum disease (gingivitis). Early research shows that an herbal mouthwash containing rosemary, calendula, and ginger extracts helps reduce gum bleeding and swelling in people with gum disease when used twice daily after meals for 2 weeks. The herbal mouthwash seems to work about as well as an antibacterial mouthwash containing chlorhexidine gluconate 0.2%.
  • Hypotension. Early research shows that taking rosemary oil three times per day increases the top number in a blood pressure reading (systolic blood pressure) and the bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) in people with low blood pressure. Blood pressure seems to return to pretreatment values once rosemary use is stopped.
  • Opioid withdrawal. Early research suggests that taking rosemary leaves along with methadone, improves opioid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Stress. Some early research suggests that rosemary and lavender oil aromatherapy may reduce pulse rates, but not blood pressure, in people taking tests. But other research shows that applying rosemary oil to the wrist increases feelings of anxiety and tension during testing.
  • Sunburn. Early research suggests that taking a product containing rosemary and grapefruit extract (NutroxSun by Monteloeder Inc.) may protect against sunburn
  • Cough.
  • Eczema.
  • Gas (flatulence).
  • Gout.
  • Headache.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Increasing menstrual flow.
  • Indigestion.
  • Liver and gallbladder problems.
  • Toothache.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate rosemary for these uses.


Side Effects & Safety

Rosemary is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in amounts found in foods. Rosemary is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when used as a medicine when taken by mouth, applied to the skin, or inhaled as aromatherapy.

However, the undiluted oil is LIKELY UNSAFE to take by mouth. Taking large amounts of rosemary can cause vomiting, uterine bleeding, kidney irritation, increased sun sensitivity, skin redness, and allergic reactions.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Rosemary is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts. Rosemary might stimulate menstruation or affect the uterus, causing a miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of applying rosemary to the skin during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, it’s best to avoid rosemary in amounts larger than food amounts.

If you are breast-feeding, also steer clear of rosemary in medicinal amounts. Not enough is known about what effects it might have on the nursing infant.

Aspirin allergy. Rosemary contains a chemical that is very similar to aspirin. This chemical, known a as salicylate, may cause a reaction in people who are allergic to aspirin.

Bleeding disorders: Rosemary might increase the risk of bleeding and bruising in people with bleeding disorders. Use cautiously.

Seizure disorders: Rosemary might make seizure disorders worse. Don’t use it.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For memory: 500 milligrams of rosemary extract twice daily for one month has been used.


  • For memory: Four drops of pure rosemary essential oil (Tisserand Aromatherapy) has been applied to an aromatherapy diffuser pad 5 minutes before testing.