Rosemary for remembrance

Easter is coming. With Easter comes spring lamb, and with lamb goes rosemary. It’s an excellent pairing, with the pungent aromatic oil of rosemary offsetting the rich meat, and also helping to improve your digestion as you feast after the slim pickings of Lent. But there’s a lot more to rosemary than that.

People discovered a long time ago that it improves circulation, and the oil is stimulating rather than relaxing, making you feel more awake and alert when you smell it. Hence its reputation for improving memory and eyesight, and easing headaches; and in the modern world, for delaying the onset of dementia and easing its symptoms, and helping recovery from strokes and other forms of brain damage. It’s also used to stimulate hair growth, both as a wash and when taken internally.

The same stimulating and anti-inflammatory properties make it a valuable herb for treating pelvic disorders, from heavy periods, fibroids and endometriosis in women to prostatitis in men. The oil is also anti-microbial and anti-spasmodic, so it can be used to clear up infections and ease the pain brought about by muscular tension.

But its virtues are not solely down to the aromatic oil. It has an underlying bitterness that helps your digestive juices to flow, and contains calcium, iron and vitamin B6, and antioxidants that have been shown to have a useful role in inhibiting certain types of cancers. I could go on; if you look on the net you will find many more claims for its efficacy, but I’ve chosen the ones I can attest to from my own experience as a practitioner.

The only cautions are that it should not be taken (other than as a food) in pregnancy, and there can be interactions with certain drugs like anticoagulants, ACE inhibitors, diuretics and lithium. Check with a practitioner if you are unsure about taking it; there are always other options in the herb world.

All in all, it’s a very valuable part of the herbal pharmacopoeia, and far more than a beautiful garden plant, a heady fragrance and a garnish for your joint of lamb.

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