Rosemary - Not Just a Culinary Herb

You may think that rosemary is an appetizing aromatic herb used in many meat dishes because of its complimentary taste, but there’s much more this herb can do.

Medicinally, rosemary has been used for many things, including memory. We know this from several medical texts dating back to the ancient Greeks, but also from Shakespeare himself. It is in Hamlet that poor, doomed Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” It’s also mentioned for “remembrance” in “The Winter’s Tale,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “King Lear.”

Chinese physicians would mix ginger with rosemary as a cure-all for headaches, stomach issues, and even insomnia. Superstitious young ladies of the Middle Ages would use it under their pillows to prevent bad dreams and kept it in their pockets to attract love. After the Queen of Hungary was cured of her paralysis by a concoction of wine and rosemary in 1235, the combination was called “Hungary Water,” an elixir still used today.

For more practical and modern practitioners, rosemary is incorporated in many digestive and circulatory remedies. The herb itself is still used to prevent food poisoning and in the preservation of meat, and is considered safe as a food and a tea. Rosemary oil should be used with more caution, however, as it can cause irritation of the stomach and kidneys. Pregnant and nursing women, and children under two, should steer clear of rosemary and its oil.

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