Feed Your Beauty - Month Five
Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary)
This month it’s more of a Drink Your Beauty theme, with a wonderfully simple recipe coming in the form of a caffeine-free tea.
Rosemary is a member of the mint family and has been used for centuries as a symbol of remembrance; it provides a myriad of benefits. Rosemary leaves are needle shaped and used to make rosemary essential oil, rosemary extract and, of course, rosemary tea.
We are lucky that rosemary thrives in sunny spots throughout the UK and is so easy to grow. It doesn’t mind poor soil and dry conditions, which is perfect for my own garden.
Rooted in History
The evergreen herb is native to the Mediterranean but has been in Britain for centuries. It is thought that the Romans may have brought it within them, when they invaded, in the first century. It is recorded to have been grown in monastic gardens and farms in the 8th century.
The British Museum displays a letter from Jeanne de Valois, Countess of Hainault, who sent rosemary cuttings to her daughter Queen Philippa (Philippa of Hainault), wife of Edward III, describing the virtues of rosemary along with other herbs also gifted to her. The cuttings were planted in the garden of the old Palace of Westminster.
In the 14th century, the herb was burned in houses to keep the Black Death from entering. Rosemary is still used as an ingredient within incense today and used to cleanse sacred spaces. It has also been used as a decoration for weddings and funerals.
This woody herb has been used, in Europe, Asia and the Americas, as a herbal medicine for centuries. Use of rosemary dates back to the Ancient Egyptians.
The Power of Rosemary
Rosemary has many possible health benefits, but lack of research and scientific evidence means much of this is difficult to substantiate. However, it is undeniably a good source of anti-oxidants and has anti-inflammatory benefits. These are thought to help boost the immune system, improve blood circulation and aid digestion.
As the weather changes and more colds circulate our homes and workplaces, I am more than keen to try something to boost my own immune system, and an improvement in blood circulation may warm up my forever cold hands and feet.
Specific research shows that the aroma from this herb can improve a person’s concentration, performance, speed, accuracy and, to a lesser extent, their mood. It has also been found that rosemary can fight free-radical damage in the brain, thanks to the carnosic acid it contains. Some studies have suggested that rosemary may significantly help to prevent brain ageing. Carnosic acid is also excellent for good eye health, and for balancing the microflora and good bacteria in the gut.
Rosemary is a source of salicylic acid, the forerunner to aspirin, so could be used to relieve aches and pains. There is evidence to show that, in ancient times, rosemary oil was rubbed into joints suffering from inflammation and arthritis.
Culinary and Other Uses
Most of us will be familiar with the aroma and flavour that comes from fresh and dried rosemary. I have a large plant close to my kitchen door. It spills over the retaining wall and smells wonderful whenever anyone brushes past it. It’s close enough that I can break or snip some off whenever I need it in the kitchen. When I am doing the annual pruning of the perennial shrub, I cut large ‘bunches’ of it and display them in vases and jugs around the house. I find it quite lovely to look at, with or without its flowers, and it brings with it a nice fresh scent.
I love to add sprigs of rosemary to potatoes whilst roasting and use it in lamb and chicken dishes. I also infuse olive oil with it for a focaccia recipe, where it’s drizzled over the dough prior to baking and can be used to dip the bread into before eating. That said, I hadn’t considered using the herb to make a tea.
Drinking rosemary tea can help boost your immune system. The invigorating and rejuvenating tea delivers the aromatic fragrance of the herb, along with a pine flavour. It is rich in vitamins A, C and B6, along with iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium.
This herbal tea can help improve your gut’s digestive processes, and reduce gas and bloating. It supports healthy gut bacteria and improves nutrient absorption. A healthy gut microbiome helps the body fight infections more efficiently. Since your body processes fat more efficiently, it can also help aid weight loss.
Further studies into the benefits of drinking rosemary tea have found that it may help lower blood pressure. It can act as a blood thinner, improving blood circulation and helping to reduce the risk of blood clots and heart attacks.
Increased blood circulation stimulates hair follicles and can encourage hair growth. So, in addition to drinking the herbal brew, you could make a large batch and use it as a rinse to boost hair growth. It also helps to eliminate dandruff and remove product build-up. The infusion may also be used as a breath freshener and mouthwash, due to the antibacterial agent.
We are using fresh rosemary in our recipe but you can make the tea with dried rosemary, if you don’t have access to a plant. Due to the strength of dried herbs, you’ll only need half the quantity shown.
As with most things, there are also certain cautions. Some people are allergic to the rosemary plant. Those allergic to aspirin or salicylate drugs may develop allergies to rosemary tea. For pregnant women, this herbal tea should only be consumed after seeking medical advice as it can also cause uterine bleeding. For anyone taking medication or with serious health issues, please speak to your medical practitioner before drinking rosemary tea.
This recipe is for two people, so you might want to make this in a pot and strain the finished tea into individual cups. If you are making this for an individual, it would be lovely in a pot for one, or just make it up in a jug or small bowl, then strain it into a cup or mug. Rosemary tea may be consumed at any time of day.
Salicylic acid (found within the plant) is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) used for its antibacterial and exfoliant properties. It helps to dissolve skin debris and unblock pores. As mentioned previously, the infusion is also great for the hair.
Rosemary oil and extracts provide a more potent level of benefits. They stimulate blood circulation, to tone and brighten the skin, so are often found within skincare products. The antiseptic properties of rosemary treat skin to soothe and reduce irritation. It is also great for treating breakouts. In addition, it is an astringent that cleanses and constricts the pores. For the body, rosemary oil may be found within massage oils for a boost of energy.
Within Pevonia’s natural skincare range, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil or Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract is found within:
Combination Skin Line Combination Skin Cleanser
Oily Skin Line Phyto-Gel Cleanser
Spa at Home Line Replenishing Shampoo
BodyRenew™ Line Body Moisturiser – Peach & Vanilla
Body Line Silky Skin Body Scrub