Natural Health Products
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Rosemary is a small evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean. It is now cultivated all over the world. The active ingredients of rosemary that give its medicinal properties come from the leaves of the plant. Aside from its use in medicine, rosemary is often used as a food preservative and a seasoning.
How is this product usually used?
Rosemary can be used on the skin (applied topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin) or taken by mouth (orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed)). For topical use, it is prepared as a decoctiondecoctionthe process of boiling plant parts in water and straining the liquid for medicine. For oral use, it is often prepared into drived leaves, infusioninfusionthe process of steeping or soaking plant material in hot or cold water to isolate its active ingredient, fluid extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredient, or tincturetincturea desired active ingredient that is extracted from alcoholic solution.
When rosemary is applied to the skin, 50 g of dried leaf daily or twice weekly is typically used. The dried leaf is prepared by adding it to 1 litre of cold water. The water is then boiled and left to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. After the mixture sits for 15 to 30 minutes, it can be strained and added to a full bath. The usual oral dose of rosemary is 0.6 g to 12 g of dried leaves per day, usually divided into 1 to 3 doses.
Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What is this product used for?
Oral rosemary was traditionally used in herbal medicine to:
- help relieve flatulent flatulent gassy; to expel gas dyspepsiadyspepsiaindigestion or upset stomach (i.e., stomach pain and frequent gas)
- help relieve headaches
Topical rosemary was traditionally used in herbal medicine:
- as a mild antisepticantiseptican agent that prevents or reduces infection from wounds
- to help support blood circulation
- to help relieve muscle and joint pain associated with rheumatismrheumatismcondition affecting the muscles, tendons or joints with symptoms of pain or stiffness (e.g., conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
People have also used rosemary orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed) to induce abortion, reduce stress, improve cognitivecognitiverelating to the ability to think, reason, remember, and discern performance, relieve constipation, ease painful menstruation, and restore appetite. People have also used rosemary topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin to prevent baldness and hair loss, help with wound healing, and repel insects.
Rosemary oil may help hair growth when used in combination with lavender oil and essential oilessential oilan agent extracted from plant parts and used in perfumes, cosmetics, incenses, and medications from thyme and cedar wood. It is thought that rosemary helps hair growth by increasing blood flow to the skin.
There is not enough reliable information about the effectiveness of rosemary for any of the above uses; additional studies are required to confirm its benefits.
Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What else should I be aware of?
Rosemary is safe in amounts that are usually found in food or drinks. It may be unsafe to take rosemary in larger amounts (by mouth or for use on the skin). Taking large amounts of rosemary by mouth may cause stomach irritation, kidney damage, muscle spasms, vomiting, uterine bleeding, fluid in the lungs, coma, or death. It is not safe to take undiluted rosemary oil (i.e. pure oil with nothing added to it). Undiluted rosemary oil can irritate the stomach, damage the kidneys, or cause seizures.
Side effects of rosemary applied to the skin include increased sensitivity to light (i.e., skin may burn easier), skin redness, dermatitisdermatitisinflamed skin or skin rash (irritation and inflammation of the skin), or asthma (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing). Stop using rosemary if you notice these side effects.
Rosemary may change your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes or are taking diabetic medications, you should talk to your doctor before using it. You might need to monitor your blood sugar more frequently.
Rosemary may increase your risk of bleeding. You should use it with care if you have a bleeding disorder or taking medications that can increase this risk.
Before using rosemary, talk to your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
- acute inflammation
- high blood pressure
- iron deficiency
- open cuts or skin lesions
- severe circulatory disorders (i.e., problems with blood flow)
Consult your health care provider if your symptoms continue or worsen.
Avoid using oral rosemary or essential oilessential oilan agent extracted from plant parts and used in perfumes, cosmetics, incenses, and medications of rosemary while pregnant or breast-feeding. For topical use while pregnant or breast-feeding, consult your health care provider first.
Rosemary may interact with the following medications:
- anticoagulants (e.g. warfarin, heparin)
- antiplatelets (e.g. clopidogrel)
- ASA (Aspirin®) and other NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen)
- blood pressure medications
- diabetic medications
- ginkgo biloba
- saw palmetto
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.
- Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Rosemary – Oral. [updated 2008 January 23; cited2014 July 03]. Available from: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=155&lang=eng
- Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Rosemary – Topical. [updated 2008 January 23; cited2014 July 03]. Available from: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=156&lang=eng
- Natural Database. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Rosemary. [updated 2011 August 30; cited 2011 August 31]. Available from: http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=ND&pt=100&id=154&ds=
- Natural Standard – The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Rosemary. [cited 2014 July 03]. Available from: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases.aspx (subscription required)
- Lexicomp. Rosemary monograph. [cited 2014 July 03]. Available from: www.lexi.com (subscription required)
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