Common Name: Rosemary – Botanical Name: Rosmarinus officinalis. Energetics: Warm, dry. Taste/Impression: Aromatic, spicy, diffusive, slightly astringent and slightly bitter. Action: Aromatic, circulatory stimulant, stimulant/relaxant nervine, stimulating diaphoretic.
Hello again, I hope you have been enjoying our herbal health posts here! I've been busy preparing for our HerbFolk Gathering, while doing my best to keep up with the gathering and preparation of our native medicinal plants for our family's yearly use. Now I'd like to share with you an excerpt from one of my articles in our book The Plant Healer's Path, and introduction to the ever lovely Rosemary!
This is one of my partner Elka's very favorite plants, and I think she could live, breathe and swim in it and be very happy. We have rosemary butter, rosemary-infused olive oil, rosemary salve, rosemary tea, rosemary tincture, rosemary lotion, rosemary smudge, rosemary rubbed meat and all manner of other rosemary-flavored dishes and body products. Thankfully, Rosemary is a common ornamental and culinary garden plant in NM and can be gathered in most villages and cities. This is good, because it's cold enough in the canyon that our rosemary tends to struggles and grow very slowly. We do have one little plant gifted to us by a woman from Taos that is thriving in the shelter of our kitchen door. It’s growing round and tall, and each Summer presents us with gorgeous purple flowers for months at a time. Every time I walk from the den to the kitchen I stop to rub my fingers against a resinous, leathery leaf and breathe in the magic of this warm, spicy herb. Even on the coldest days of winter, it’s gentle presence fills me with an inner glow of contentment and joy.
Rosemary has been a favorite ally of mine for quite some time, both for its beautiful and giving nature and because it’s just so damn useful. It's a common ingredient in my digestive formulas, especially for those with a sluggish, overtired liver and a cold gut typified by lack of appetite, gas, constipation and bloating. I especially like it combined with Oregon Grape Root for the liver issues, and is additionally helpful in a pattern that often includes excessive, dilute urination from kidney deficiency and low blood pressure as well as inability to digest protein/fat efficiently. Other specific indications also include foggy thinking, general feeling of coldness, tiredness and intermittent depression with or without thyroid involvement usually with nervousness or anxiety underneath. There are also sometimes signs of heart weakness accompanying the poor circulation.
Rosemary tincture made from fresh plant in high proof alcohol is very powerful, so my proportions tend to be something like 5 parts Oregon Grape to 1 part Rosemary. If it still seems a bit too stimulating or heating for the individual but is otherwise a good match I'll adjust it to 2 parts Oregon Grape, 3 parts Burdock root and 1/2 part Rosemary. The taste is lovely and really harmonizes with the other herbs very nicely. Some amount of Lavender can also be added if there are significant signs of anxiety or insomnia, especially when accompanied by headache or confusion.
Rosemary is a very efficient and effective circulatory stimulant, and thus useful in a great many heart and circulatory formulas. Fresh whole rose hips, Rosemary, Ginger and Yarrow is the basic makeup of one of my favorite winter heart remedies for those who tend to get cold, quiet and lethargic in the winter. Also great for headaches of a vascular nature, along with Virgin’s Bower or Pulsatilla.
As a nervine, it has both relaxing and stimulating qualities, making it ideal for cold- bodied people with a tendency to both depression and nervousness. It promotes clarity of thinking, calm awareness, a sense of groundedness and can be very useful for flighty people constantly floating out or sinking down out of their bodies. Cold, sad people with digestive weakness and have a hard time being in the present and tend to drift into dreamy or spacey thinking will often benefit a great deal from the ongoing use of this herb.
The tea of dried leaves tends to be milder and more easily handled by a variety of constitutional types. It works very well in many tea blends, or as a pinch added to a nourishing infusion to warm things up a bit. A foment, oil or vinegar of the leaves is very nice for old muscle or joint injuries with a tendency to flare up in cold or damp weather. The oil or fresh leaf infused lard makes an excellent salve for old wounds that don’t want to heal, chronic pain of various sorts and on cracked dry feet or hands (Comfrey or Plantain is a nice addition to this). The salve and tea are also highly antimicrobial and helpful for any wound or infection that could use a boost in circulation and warmth.
Partially due to its intense volatile oil content, Rosemary works very well as an warm infused foot bath. Great at the end of the day for sore, tired feet and it is quickly absorbed through the feet into the bloodstream allowing the body to take advantage of its many healing qualities. Headaches, coldness, exhaustion and sadness (among other things) can all be addressed quite well through this simple method. To make a foot bath, just throw a handful or two of dried leaves into a big pot (big enough for both your feet to comfortably fit in) half filled with water (depending on depth) and heat to just below simmering, turn heat off and let steep for ten minutes. You can then either let the water cool down to an enjoyable temperature or add some cold water before soaking your feet for as long as you like. You can also make a quart of strong infusion of the herb and pour the strained liquid into your regular bath. You can also create temptingly aromatic blends to revive your feet at the end of the day, something like 1 part Rosemary, 1 part Lavender flowers and 1 part Rose petals. This also makes a wonderful face or body wash, it’s stimulating, calming and very cheering.
Fresh plant tincture (1:2 95%) is strong and a great ingredient in many digestive, headache, and heart formulas, as well as in liniments. It’s strong enough it doesn’t usually need to be used in large dosages. Taken by itself I start with two drops at a time and move up from there. Makes a great infused vinegar, especially from the fresh plant, yummy for food or excellent asa medicine, especially for external issues. With its high volatile oil content, this is a prime herb for infusing into oil or lard for salves or food. Fresh plant is definitely superior for this purpose. Freshly dried plant makes a nice tea or as a pinch added to a nourishing infusion.
Cautions & Contradictions: While almost everyone loves Rosemary as a spice or condiment, some don't do so well with it as a medicine, often those of excess type constitution who are hot-natured, prone to high blood pressure and ruddy colored. Possible signs of incompatibility include roaring in the ears, feeling like your pulse is going to bust out your head when you stand up (high blood pressure), rapid heartbeat, sharp headaches and excessive and uncomfortable flushing. If these symptoms occur either greatly reduce the dosage or cease completely. If the symptoms are unclear, withdraw it and then retest if possible. Rosemary should not be used where there are indications of heat, whether from excess or deficiency.
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Green Blessings, Kiva Rose
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