Secret Life of Herbs: Rosemary
Rosemary is such an incredible herb and so versatile. Every garden should include rosemary, every kitchen should have a pot of it about, and every so often it should make a welcome addition to your dinner plate.
A beautiful dark green and glossy herb with a silvery underside to its leaves, rosemary was highly prized by the Ancient Greeks and is commonly found growing wild in Europe’s warmer climes.
The plant can be used for hedging or even trained into a standard specimen with a pompom head – very stylish in a pair of matching pots flanking a doorway. It’s hardy enough for even the most challenging UK gardens, given a little protection during the coldest snaps.
Rosemary is flavoursome, easy to use and imparts rich flavour. It will infuse oils, pairs beautifully with garlic and makes wonderfully cleansing and refreshing soaps and bath products.
The herb itself symbolises remembrance. It is often included in bridal – and funeral – flowers.
It is not by accident that rosemary is linked to remembrance. Researchers have found that properties within the herb stimulate memory function. Another place rosemary should always be found is the studies and bedrooms of students studying for exams – and the gardens and communal areas of care homes, nursing homes and the domestic homes of older people.
Researchers from Northumbria University discovered a substance that dramatically slows the onset of Alzheimer’s in this familiar addition to our herb pallet.
The Northumbria study was the first to prove that rosemary can slow Alzheimer’s development and markedly improve even healthy patients’ memory.
Compounds in rosemary interact with the brain in a way similar to conventional Alzheimer’s medications. One of these compounds is called 1,8-cineole. It works by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase – an enzyme that breaks down a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.
For an Alzheimer’s patient, this inhibition has the effect of drastically slowing memory loss.
We’ve long used rosemary as one of our go-to herbs for formulating soaps and bath products.