Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wholesome Wednesdays: Rosemary

Rosemary for remembrance. Rosemary on roast turkey. Rosemary shampoo.
Rosemary is a delicious and symbolic herb, a beautiful (deer resistant) hedge, and a powerful healer. I keep learning more things about the wholesomeness of rosemary, more than i can fit into one post, but I will try to bullet point a few of rosemary's strengths.

flower rosemary

In Austin, at least, rosemary is very easy to grow. I planted mine the Fall i bought my house as little 4 inch pots. 4 years later, they're almost as tall as me, or would be if i didn't prune them back ferociously every fall and spring. Deer don't love to eat rosemary, so you can plant them in deer patrolled areas. A Mediterranean plant, rosemary likes humidity but well drained soil. It seems sturdy in the low temperatures, and there are many varieties that are suited to lower temps, tastier flavors, or sprawlier landscape filling shapes. I hope rosemary likes the Willamette valley well enough, because i don't now what i'd do without easy access to fresh rosemary whenever i'd like it!

newly planted rosemary etc.
Tiny, newly planted rosemary then.

Big and robust rosemary now.
We all know that rosemary is delicious in new potatoes or roasted poultry, but did you know that rosemary aids indigestion and was originally added to meat dishes to help digest them, especially lamb and pork that are notoriously tricky to pass through the system without, er, discomfort. Most of the health benefits of rosemary come from the essential oil contained in the leaves. If you've ever picked fresh rosemary, you know it's a very oily plant - so using rosemary fresh is a close second to straight essential oil. Rosemary oil aids flatulence, can sooth menstrual cramps among other problems of our insides, including urinary problems, kidney stones, etc. Straight rosemary essential oil is best left on the outside of our bodies, and should be avoided by pregnant women. Too much of a good thing can cause nausea or other problems if taken internally in great doses.

Roasted chicken with garlic, rosemary, sage infused oil and butter rubbed under and on the skin. Yum!

On the outside of our body, rosemary has even more health benefits. You already know how good it is for your hair: rosemary oil can stimulate your hair follicles, encouraging growth and soothes the scalp, calming dandruff or flakes. I know that one's true from experience. Since using my rosemary/sage hair rinse, i have had no problems with itchy, flakey scalp: a condition i've suffered since a teenager.

Rosemary is also an excellent disinfectant that you can use in your mouth (makes a great addition to homemade tooth powders) or as part of room freshening sprays or carpet powders. The pungent and delightful smell of rosemary really cuts through odors. I use my rosemary room spray (recipe is about the same as my hair tonic, but omit the vinegar) every morning after we wake up to get rid of that 'musty' sleep smell. Works wonderfully.

And what about 'rosemary for remembrance'? Rosemary boosts mental acuity and can relieve pain when massaged into trouble spots. The aroma of rosemary stimulates mental activity and really invigorate your energy levels. Studying for an exam and finding yourself bored or forgetful? Drip some rosemary oil on a light bulb or dab a little on your temples. You'll be back in mental action in no time! Rosemary is also good for depression, so keep a bottle on hand at all times - or fill some vases with freshly cut rosemary branches. They'll cure what ails ya!

Now that you know all the benefits of rosemary, i bet you'll give that 'hedge' a second glance. Reach out and touch it, you're brain will thank you for the aromatherapy.

What's your favorite meal featuring rosemary?

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Thank you so much for your feedback, especially if you've cooked one of my recipes or tried one of my tips: let me know how it turned out!