What is Rosemary Extract?
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.), is a common household plant that has grown in the Alps since the middle Ages, and now found throughout the world. According to folklore, rosemary takes its name from the Virgin Mary, who draped her cloak on a rosemary bush, and then placed a white flower on top of the cloak. The flower turned blue overnight, and the plant became known as the “Rose of Mary.”
Rosemary has been used for thousands of years as a savory spice, food preservative, in cosmetics and hair products, and as an herbal medicine for a variety of health disorders. Until now however, the exact chemical pathways involved in its beneficial effects have remained unknown.
There are hundreds of research papers and studies on the extensive antioxidant capabilities of rosemary. Before retiring from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, botanist Dr. James Duke established the landmark Phytochemical Database that lists all the known chemical compounds in more than 1,000 edible plants, including the most common herbs and spices. According to Duke, rosemary contains more than two dozen antioxidants, and it is the only compound in his database (CRC Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals, 1992) to have immune regulating, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities.
Chemical constituents of Rosemary Extract
Rosemary contains about 0.5% volatile oil; flavonoids (diosmetin, diosmin, genkwanin, genkwanin-4′-methyl ether, 6-methoxygenkwanin, luteolin, luteolin glucuronides,6-methoxyluteolin,6-methoxyluteolin-7-glucoside,6-methyoxyluteolin-7-methyl ether, hispidulin, apigenin, etc.); phenolic acids (rosmarinic, labiatic, chlorogenic, neochlorogenic, and caffeic acids); carnosic acid; rosmaricine and isorosmaricine (reaction products of carnosic acid); , triterpenic acids (mainly ursolic, oleanolic, and betulinic acids, with traces of 19-α-hydroxyursolic, 2-β-hydroxyoleanolic,and3-β-hydroxyurea-12,20(30)dien-l7-oicacids);thediterpenesrosmanol,7-ethoxyrosmanol, carnosol, seco-hinokiol, and rosmaquinone A and B; and others.
Benefits of taking Rosemary Extract supplements:
(1) Rosemary contains two important ingredients, caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid, which are responsible for various therapeutic actions. Both these acids are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. They help reduce inflammation that contributes to asthma, liver disease and heart disease.
(2) The natural acids present in rosemary help in protecting the body’s cells from being damaged by free radicals like monoterpenes, phenolic diterpenes and flavonoids.
(3) A rich source of Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), another potent antioxidant, and rosemary helps in fighting free radicals further.
(4) Scientists from Cancer Research Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovak Republic, have found that rosemary helps in protecting DNA against free radical damage.
(5) Rosemary inactivates oestrogen hormones like oestrone and oestradiol, which are responsible for breast cancer, by stimulating liver enzymes.
(6) Italian researchers have found that rosemary extract safeguards a protective protein called HSP70 that helps in reducing damage caused to the skin due to stress, free radicals and other toxins.
(7) Rosemary extract helps prevent age-related skin damage, such as wrinkles, by protecting the individual components of skin cells.
(8) French scientists from National Institute of Agronomic Research, Dijon, say that extract of rosemary encourages detoxifying enzymes, like cytochrome P450, glutathione transferase and quinone reductase, flush out harmful toxins from the liver, out of the body.
(9) Rosemary extract, when consumed on a daily basis, improves kidney functions, increases urine flow and preserves essential minerals such as sodium, potassium and chlorium.
(10) Rosemary extract is used to stimulate hair growth, boost mental activity, relieve respiratory problems and pain, and reduce disorders in menstrual cycle, menstrual cramps, peptic ulcers, urine flow, prostate, gall bladder, intestine, sperm mobility, leukemia and kidney stones
Side effects and safety of Rosemary Extract
In general, rosemary appears well tolerated with few documented cases of adverse events. Rosemary is likely safe when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods. It is possibly safe when rosemary and rosemary extracts are taken by mouth and used appropriately in medicinal amounts, or when used topically in medicinal amounts for up to seven months.
Allergic contact dermatitis, occupational asthma and chelitis have occurred in some individuals. Ingestion of rosemary oil can be toxic.
In large doses, rosemary may be irritating to the mucosa of the intestinal tract and may cause nausea and cramping. Also, rosemary has been shown to decrease iron absorption. Although not well-studied, the volatile oil of rosemary leaves may have musculoskeletal effects. Rosemary may also increase the rate at which the liver deactivates estrogen, which may lead to estrogen-deficient conditions. Rosemary may also cause hypotension (low blood pressure). In theory, it may also stimulate hair growth, and hirsutism may occur.
Although not well-studied in humans, rosemary leaf volatile oil may increase blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Rosemary may increase the effects of furosemide. Diuretic properties of rosemary have not been established, but it is possible that electrolyte changes may occur. Aqueous extracts of rosemary may increase urinary excretion of sodium, potassium, and chloride, and decrease creatinine chearance.
Use cautiously in patients with pep ulcer diseasetic, low blood pressure, coagulation disorders, or iron deficiency anemiair.
Dosage of Rosemary Extract supplement:
If you decide to take rosemary extract supplements then be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Always check for the recommended dosage since it can vary by the manufacturer just as the amount of grams contained in each capsule can vary by brand.
A brand that is purely 100% rosemary extract may recommend taking two 400 mg up three times a day. However, you may want to start with a lower dosage to make sure you don’t have any gastrointestinal issues with the rosemary supplements first. If you have any problems or suspect side effects or allergies, you should discontinue use of the dietary supplement immediately and consult your doctor. It is a good idea to write down your medications and record your daily dosage along with what you may have eaten or drank along with it.