Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rosemary: Friendship and Healing

by Donna L. Watkins

I absolutely LOVE my rosemary bushes. They are rich in essential oils, so when I brush my hands over them, scooping up the oil and rubbing it on my face, I am totally refreshed and energized. I was first introduced to rosemary by my friend, Maggie, in Alabama. She used to come to our shop and bring me a bouquet of rosemary tied with a beautiful ribbon, as flamboyant as Maggie.

I miss getting to see her now that we live in Virginia, but I have planted several rosemary bushes. It's a great bush providing fresh cooking ingredients, but also for the beautiful periwinkle blue flowers and for an instant fresh-me-up while strolling the gardens. I cut branches of it for a vase indoors and share it with friends like Maggie did with me - tied with a ribbon of course. Not so stylishly done, but it makes me smile thinking of her.

I hope you'll consider it for your garden. Check out the varieties since some grow wide, some tall and some stay rather short. Also make sure you get a variety that will winter over in your climate zone. We're in 7 and I think that's the coldest zone it will take.

Here's some great information from GardenGuides.com:

Rosemary is an attractive evergreen shrub with pine needle-like leaves. It's trusses of blue flowers last through spring and summer in a warm, humid environment.

The botanical name Rosmarinus is derived form the old Latin for 'dew of the sea', a reference to its pale blue dew-like flowers and the fact that it is often grown near the sea. It is a symbol or remembrance and friendship, and is often carried by wedding couples as a sign of love and fidelity.

Tradition says that rosemary will grow for thirty-three years, until it reaches the height of Christ when he was crucified, then it will die. Sprigs of rosemary were placed under pillows at night to ward off evil spirits and bad dreams. The wood was used to make lutes and other musical instruments.

Scientists at the University of Cincinnati say that the scent of rosemary is an effective memory stimulant. This might make a nice potted plant for your desk at work, or where the kids do their homework!

Several studies done in the last several years show that oil from the leaves of the very plant sold as a spice for flavoring can help prevent the development of cancerous tumors. One study, led by Chi-Tang Ho, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Food Science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, showed that applying rosemary oil to the skin reduced the risk of cancer to half that of those who did not receive the application of oil.

Researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana found that rosemary cut by half the incidence of breast cancer in animals at high risk for developing the disease. Future studies will demonstrate whether these properties extend to humans as well.

Though these experiments have used rosemary oil to test the effectiveness in preventing cancer, the oil should not be taken internally. Even small doses can cause stomach, kidney and intestinal problems, and large amounts may be poisonous. Use a tea instead. Pregnant women should not use the herb medicinally, although it's okay to use it as a seasoning.

Read more medicinal uses, cosmetic and culinary also at GardenGuides.com.

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