6 Benefits and Uses of Rosemary Tea

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Rosemary has a long history of culinary and aromatic uses, in addition to applications in traditional herbal and Ayurvedic medicine. The rosemary bush (Rosmarinus officinalis) is native to South America and the Mediterranean region. It’s part of the Lamiaceae family of plants, along with mint, oregano, lemon balm, and basil. Many people enjoy rosemary tea for its flavor, aroma, and health benefits.

Here are 6 potential health benefits and uses of rosemary tea, as well as possible drug interactions and a recipe to make it.

  1. High in antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory compounds

Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your body from oxidative damage and inflammation, which can lead to chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. They can be found in a variety of plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and herbs like rosemary. Rosemary tea also contains compounds that may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of rosemary is largely attributed to its polyphenolic compounds like rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid. Due to its antioxidant capability, rosmarinic acid is often used as a natural preservative to increase the shelf life of perishable foods. The compounds in rosemary tea may also have antimicrobial properties, which may help fight infections. Rosemary leaves are employed in traditional medicine for their antibacterial and wound healing effects.

Studies have also investigated the effects of rosmarinic and carnosic acid on cancer. They have found that the two acids may have antitumor properties and even slow the growth of leukemia, breast, and prostate cancer cells.

  1. May help lower your blood sugar

When left untreated, high blood sugar can damage your eyes, heart, kidneys, and nervous system. Therefore, it’s critical that people who have diabetes properly manage their blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that compounds in rosemary tea may lower blood sugar, suggesting that rosemary could have potential applications for managing high blood sugar among people with diabetes.

  1. May improve your mood and memory

Experiencing stress and anxiety from time to time is common. Though studies on rosemary tea specifically are lacking, evidence shows that drinking and inhaling compounds in rosemary tea may help boost your mood and improve your memory. In fact, simply smelling rosemary appears to be beneficial. One study in 20 healthy young adults observed that inhaling rosemary aroma for 4–10 minutes before a mental test improved concentration, performance, and mood.

What’s more, a study in 20 healthy adults found that inhaling rosemary oil stimulated brain activity and improved mood. Participants’ activity level, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate increased after inhaling the oil.

  1. May support brain health

Some test-tube and animal studies have found that compounds in rosemary tea may protect the health of your brain by preventing the death of brain cells.  Animal research suggests that rosemary may even support recovery from conditions that can lead to brain damage, such as a stroke. Other studies suggest that rosemary may prevent the negative effects of brain aging, even suggesting a protective effect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Rosemary extract may improve mood by promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria and reducing inflammation in the hippocampus, the part of your brain associated with emotions, learning, and memories.

  1. May protect vision and eye health

While studies on rosemary tea and eye health are lacking, evidence suggests that certain compounds in the tea may benefit your eyes.

Animal studies have found that adding rosemary extract to other oral treatments can slow the progression of age-related eye diseases (AREDs) One study examined the addition of rosemary extract to common treatments like zinc oxide and other AREDs antioxidant combinations, finding that it helped slow age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common condition that affects vision.

Other animal and experimental studies indicate that the rosmarinic acid in rosemary delays the onset of cataracts — the gradual opaqueness of the eye that leads to blindness — and reduces the severity of cataracts. Keep in mind that most studies on rosemary and eye health have used concentrated extracts, making it difficult to determine what effect rosemary tea may have, as well as how much you would need to drink to reap these benefits.

  1. Other potential benefits and uses

Rosemary has been studied for many other uses. Other potential benefits of the compounds in rosemary tea include:

  • May benefit heart health. One animal study found that rosemary extract reduced the risk of heart failure following a heart attack.
  • May promote digestion. Rosemary extract is sometimes used to treat indigestion, but research on this use is lacking. Still, rosemary is thought to support digestion by promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria and reducing inflammation.
  • May boost weight loss. One animal study noted that rosemary prevented weight gain among rats, even those fed a high fat diet.
  • May promote hair growth. Some people claim that using homemade rosemary tea as a hair rinse promotes hair growth, but research is lacking. Some studies suggest that rosemary oil or extract can reduce hair loss but has to be applied to the scalp.

While these benefits seem promising, more research is needed, particularly to determine what benefits drinking rosemary tea may offer.

Article Medically reviewed by Adda Bjarnadottir, MS, RDN (Ice) — By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD  (Healthline).

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