Recently I was intrigued by a message thread that has been sprouting like a weed on the Hair: Alternative Health Board about the use of rosemary for hair, scalp and other beauty treats.
In the course of my life I have seeped fresh rosemary tea, soaked in rosemary infused bath water and oiled the ends of my hair with rosemary hair oil. Often I would enjoy my various rosemary treats while burning rosemary scented candles and incense.
Over the past ten years many long haired beauties have recommended rosemary herbal hair teas, oil and rinses to stimulate my follicles and grow my hair longer and stronger.
Even through I have been enjoying this wonderful hardy herb for many years, I had not really stopped to examine the full benefits that it provided. Nor had I seriously discovered just how many products use rosemary as part of their ingredients.
As I searched through my stacks of storage boxes crammed with hair notes and all natural recipes, I found a few of my old favorite rosemary hair and beauty recipes. One thing lead to another and next thing you know, I was surrounded by a stack of books, clippings and notes about this fabulous herb.
All About Rosemary
The rosemary plant is light blue and blooms from March to May. For most tonics and recipes the rosemary leaves are use more often than the flowers or the rest of the plant.
Rosemary is a bushy type of evergreen that can grow six feet or higher. The tree contains leaves that are stiff and leathery.
Some herbalists and aroma therapists will label their formulas with the official name. The official botanical name for rosemary is "rosmarinus officinalis."
Rosemary, as it is known to the general population, is part of the mint family of herbs. This family is described as the Labiatae herb family.
Other members of the same family include basil, patchouli, lavender, hyssop, myrtle, mint, clary and sage.
Rosemary is an all purpose herb that is ruled astrologically by Leo and the Sun according to some experts and the moon according to others. It is also known as one of the "brain herbs" because it stimulates mental activity.
Until I started delving into its history I had no idea that rosemary is one of the oldest and most respected herbs that is still available in modern times.
Archeologists have uncovered pieces of the rosemary plant in ancient Egyptian graves where it was apparently used as incense.
The Romans considered rosemary to be a sacred plant that was a gift from the gods.
Rosemary has been used for religious cleansing and purification as gifts of beautiful wreaths for weddings and other celebrations, as food, for beauty rituals and as herbal medicines.
Simon and Garfunkel made rosemary popular many years ago with their best selling Scarborough Fair that went something like this:
"Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme Remember me to one who lives there She once was a true love of mine" Lyrics From Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkle All Rights Reserved.
Rosemary As Medication
Paracelsus, an ancient physician, used rosemary as one of the chief ingredients in his healing remedies believing that it was a special tonic to help strengthen the overall body and heal the liver, brain, heart and eyes.
In modern times rosemary is used by herbalists to assist with illness related to the gall bladder and the liver.
Rosemary is also used as an antiseptic for treating flu, viruses and colds. Sore muscles, rheumatism and arthritis often respond well to rosemary oils applied during massage.
Rosemary is also touted as being able to help lower blood sugar, raise blood pressure, relieve cramps and stimulate a block menstrual flow*.
Creation & Cultivation of Rosemary Essential Oils
Rosemary essential oil is extracted by a method of steam distillation of the entire flowering plants that bloom in the Spring and early Summer. The resulting liquid of the rosemary essential oil is a light buttery yellow. Rosemary essential oils have a strong woodsy, camphor-like aroma. It is estimated that it takes close to 70 pounds of the flowering plant to yield one pound of the essential oil
Not all rosemary essential oils are created the same. The oil from France is known to be more effective for the liver while the essential oils from Span is considered better for the heart.
Although rosemary originated in the Mediterranean regions, it is currently widely cultivated in France, Italy, Spain, Yugoslavia and Tunisia.
Rosemary is steeped in folklore and it is believed by some alchemists, although not scientifically proven, that the proper rosemary formulas will attract elves, fairies and other good energies to your abode.
Modern day alchemists often use rosemary oil or herbs as part of their earth magic. The late Scott Cunningham, author of many contemporary folk magic works recommended several recipes that included the use of rosemary.
Cunningham recommended the use of rosemary herbs or essential oil to dispel jealousy, excel in job interviews and for general house and office purification and cleansing. Not really all that different than what the ancient Romans believed.
You can also ingest rosemary as an herb or tea. Try baking a wonderful fresh loaf of bread with a little fresh rosemary mixed into the batter or use it to garnish baked fowl.
Rosemary As A Tea
On rainy days when you are feeling a bit sluggish or down, a cup of fresh brewed rosemary tea will give you an instant burst of energy without the caffeine edge. Since ancient times it is believed that ingesting rosemary through food or teas will bring general good fortune. It is also believed to help balance energy to the brain.
Many health food stores sell rosemary already prepared in tea bags or as loose teas. If you prefer to make your own you can buy bulk rosemary leaves and drop a handful into boiling water. Steep for 20 minutes or more. Drink straight or with a little honey to sweeten.
Rosemary & The Legend Of The Four Robbers
You may also find herb vinegar mixtures that contain rosemary. This mixture is wonderful on fresh greens and salads. There is a legend that during a period of plague a band of thieves robbed the sick houses without catching the disease.
It seems that the robbers prevented the deadly disease by drinking a medicinal vinegar that included rosemary, lavender, sage and other bacteria killing herbs and additives. Ever since that legend was discovered, people have been making and drinking herbal vinegars.
Rosemary is often used in the modern day version of the vinegar mixes.
Even though Rosemary is a fabulous herb, it is still not safe for everyone to take without consideration. The herb should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or suffering from epilepsy without the express permission of their doctor. Since rosemary is a stimulant and is used sometimes as a herbal heart tonic it should also not be used by heart patients without consulting with their doctors.
If you have even the possibility of a negative reaction to rosemary be sure you discuss its use with your primary physician before you take it.
Rosemary As An Inhalant & Other Uses
According to the Ancient Chinese sage Chiang-tse, "perfume will always help you along the way of wisdom." A little vial of rosemary oil that is inhaled when your brain is tired will help to increase concentration and eliminate boredom.
Rosemary is also considered by herbalists to be a wonderful aid for students cramming for examines. It will give then an energy pick-up, help their concentration and allow them to study more efficiently.
Used in incense or candles or air fresheners, rosemary is an excellent inhalant. Rosemary can be used as often as you like on a daily basis. It helps to clear the head and revive the body. It has toning and astringent effects on the skin.
Make a spray of water and oil. Spray the oil throughout a room to remove stale room odors and add energy to your environment.
Rosemary For Hair
This magnificent herb is widely respected for its value as a hair and beauty aide. Rosemary can also be used in the bath, on the face and as a body or scalp massage.
Believed to stimulate hair follicles and hair growth, rosemary is generally believed to slow down or even permanently hold off premature hair loss and gray hair.
Rosemary oils and concoctions will soothe and condition dry, flaky scalps. When applied in a concentrated form to the roots and scalp, rosemary is helpful in clearing many cases of dandruff. Rosemary also mixes well with tea tree and basil for stubborn scalp problems.
Rosemary Hair Oils
Rosemary is known to help darken gray hair over time (although not obvious for a long time) and it is considered to be a stimulant for the roots and the scalp. Many people trying to help stimulate their hair to grow longer or healthier swear by various rosemary infused recipes.
If you have long hair with some hints of gray, you may want to avoid using commercial dyes or colors to protect the health of your hair. Over an extended period of time rosemary rinses and oils are rumored to gently and softly darken gray hair. Rosemary will also eliminate dryness and act as an excellent conditioner.
Besides being rumored to help grow hair faster & prevent pre-mature baldness (no scientific evidence to that at this point) it is also good for knocking out dandruff.
If you have blonde or light colored hair you may NOT want to try this recipe as it may darken your hair.
Rosemary Hair Oil Recipe
Rosemary blends very well with others in the mint family. It is especially beneficial when mixed with basil, bergamot, juniper, lemon and cedar. Basil is a known scalp and hair follicle stimulant.
Keep in mind that any rosemary concoctions will be stimulating and refreshing. This is a very Yang herb that is uplifting, strengthening and invigorating. It increases circulation and will often make the scalp or body feel warm after it is massaged with a rosemary formula or oil.
Fill the class jar with the rosemary. Cover the rosemary with the jojoba oil so that the rosemary is completely covered. Place the jar in your sunniest window. Let the herbs "steep" for 4 weeks or so. Turn the jar slightly every day to make sure that the sun contacts all sides of the jar. When the oil is finished steeping for 4 weeks, strain the leaves from the liquid with an all natural paper coffee filter or silk. Filter into a clean, sterilized amber or dark colored jar. Store in a cool, dark place.
Pour just enough for your immediate needs into a clean glass bowl. Heat gently over a double boiler on in a microwave. Make sure the oil is warm but not too hot. Work the oil into the hair from the ears down to the ends. Use a cotton ball or your clean fingers. Apply a plastic shower cap or wrap. You may sit under a hood dryer to add heat or wrap hot towels over the plastic to help the oil soak into the cuticles more easily.
If you prefer to buy pre-made rosemary hair oils there are a couple of hair oils that are made with natural Rosemary. Various brands have many wonderful ingredients designed to stimulate the scalp, the roots and the hair. Combined with the rosemary leaves and rosemary oil is basil (one of my favorites) although with nettle, lavender flowers & burdock root and oils of lavender, jojoba & coconut.
Anti-dandruff Shampoo Recipe
Rosemary works well to help with itchy scalps and for relieving dandruff.
Glass pots work best for creating this recipe.
Place the dried rosemary leaves in the boiling water on top of a stove or heater. Bring the water to a full boil, turn off the water and then steep in the pot for 6 hours. You can steep the leaves for less time but the longer you steep the more concentrated the results.
Store the mixture in a dark amber glass in the refrigerator. Heat just enough for your treatment. This will probably last 1 week or more. You can tell by the aroma of the mixture.
Do not use the camphor until right before you use the rosemary mixture. Add 10-20 drops of liquid camphor. You may want to start slowly with a lower dosage since camphor can really blast open your sinuses and can make your eyes water if you inhale too much.
Use a cotton ball and dip into a small cup of the liquid and saturate your itchy scalp or root area. If you prefer, wrap your hair in a plastic cup and let soap for 30 minutes. For extra penetration wrap a hot towel over the plastic towel or wrap. Keep in mind that rosemary can stain.
The Rosemary scalp tonic can be applied every day or as desired. To darken hair you will need to apply as an overall rinse 3x a week. Keep in mind that you hair may take a long time to show a change in the color.
I like to play with these types of recipes in the bathtub because it makes them so less messy. Also, rosemary is good for your skin so if it drinks into your bath water...no big deal.
The rosemary mixture can also be used an all over final rinse. Use a plastic bowl to catch the liquid as it falls so you can rinse several times.
Honey & Rosemary On Your Hair
Honey mixed with a little of the rosemary hair oil mixture described above can be used an overall hair softening agent.
It's very messy & sticky so if you are going to try it, apply the honey mixture to your hair in the shower after you have first wet your hair.
Note: It's not recommended that you experiment with honey mixtures on dry hair as it will be too difficult to apply.
Do not shampoo your hair first, just wet your hair w/ warm water. Squeeze excess water out and then apply the honey to your ends and dry middle hair.
Leave the mixture on for 5-10 minutes and then rinse out. You can follow with a moisturizing shampoo and rinse out conditioner.
Facials With Rosemary Mixture
Add 1 tablespoon of the rosemary liquid formula to any facial. It helps with stimulating blood flow and circulation.
If you prefer, you can mix one tablespoon of rosemary with fresh yogurt and slather on your face as a yogurt/rosemary facial. The yogurt tightens the pore and the rosemary will add stimulation.
DO NOT USE this recipe on your face if you have roscea or other proneness to outbreaks. It can bring the blood to the surface and cause a rosecea reaction.
Pre-Mixed Rosemary Shampoo
There are several brands of shampoo on the market that are already made with Rosemary. Burt's Bees has a shampoo bar soap with rosemary. Knotty Boy Dread Shampoo that is designed specifically to keep the itchies away has a rosemary/tea tree/peppermint all natural blend.
There are several rosemary shampoo products which have been on the hair care market for many years.
Some of the shampoo products have rosemary leaves and oil as major ingredients but also includes all kinds of other herbal and natural hair goodies like angelica, arnica, calendula, chamomile, comfrey, elderflower, ginger, ginseng root, honeysuckle, hops, horsetail, juniper, lavender, lemon balm, nettle, rosemary, sage, St. John's Worth, witch hazel, yarrow, Aloe Vera extract, jojoba oil, soybean oil, calendula oil, vegetable glycerin, plant gel, alginate, sea salt minerals, panthenol, vitamin C, grapefruit seed extract, essential oils of lavender, geranium and ylang ylang, and vitamin E.
Rosemary herbs and oils help soften and repair damaged hair. Sometimes hair care products combine cedar with rosemary hemp for a fabulous aroma. Some rosemary products are combined with Tea Tree.
Phytotherathrie - Huile d'Ales is a revitalizing botanical oil that smoothes & hydrates dry, brittle hair & mends splits ends. 100% natural, it includes essential oils of sage, rosemary & juniper. Ideal for color-treated & long hair. May be applied to the hair before chemical processing.
Rosemary can help stimulate the scalp.
Facial Recipe With White Wine
Another alternative is to simmer a handful of dried rosemary leaves in a pint of white wine for 20 minutes. Strain out the rosemary leaves and then splash on your face as a stimulating wash. It will give you an instant refreshing wake-up call.
Rosemary, Roses & Honey Facial
Honey is a natural moisturizer and emollient. Rosemary is toning to the skin as are rose petals and rose oil.
Note: You can also substitute a few drops of rosemary essential oil.
Mix the honey, the herbs and rose petals or oils together. Store in a tight container w/ a lid in a warm dark place for 2-3 weeks.
Place the jar in a double boiler to gently heat. Use clean fingers to apply to newly washed skin on your face. The honey will feel tacky which is very good. This means that it is stimulating circulation. Be careful to avoid the eye area. Leave on the skin for 15-20 minutes.
Rinse well. Apply the facial moisturizer of your choice.
Rosemary For The Lips
Rosemary mixed with peppermint and then added to lip balms will gently stimulate a swelling effect and give you a nice all natural, gentle bee-sting effect. Forget lip injections, apply a stimulating lip treatment every day and gradually you will have fuller and healthier lips.
Foot & Hand Treatments
Rosemary is also used for healing and adding zing to dry feet and hands. Look for a fabulous home-made rosemary soap where you can see and feel real pieces of rosemary as you bathe.
General Bath & Body Treatment
A full body massage with warm carrier oil infused with rosemary essential oils will provide total refreshment.
Adding a few drops of rosemary essential oil to a hot bath will also soothe but stimulate your mood.
It will help to add circulation to tired muscles. If you prefer, make a fresh tea with the rosemary leaves and pour the strained tea water into your bath.
Rosemary is one of the oldest and most respected herbs which is still available in modern times. Whether you are interested in using this fabulous herb for a beauty recipe, health tonic or just as a wonderful aroma, take your time and get acquainted with this fabulous gift from Mother Nature.
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- Revised Publication Date: 10/18/11