In addition to being a celebrated savory seasoning, rosemary has a time-honored tradition of medicinal and therapeutic use. For centuries, it has been used to enhance memory, promote hair growth and relieve pain and tension. While none of its professed health benefits have been scientifically proven, studies confirm that rosemary is rich in antioxidants and contains natural anti-microbial properties. (See Reference 1)
Rosemary’s essential oil is popularly used in aromatherapy and massage treatments since it’s believed to relieve stress and improve concentration. Cold-pressing and steam distillation are common methods used to extract essential oils from herbs like rosemary. However, these techniques usually require extensive experience and the use of complex apparati. Below is a simple stovetop method that uses low-heat and a grapeseed oil base to harness the essential oil of rosemary.
Things You'll Need
- Dried or fresh rosemary, two to three ounces
- Grapeseed oil, 2 cups
- Nonreactive double boiler (made from stainless steel, enamel or glass) or
If working with fresh rosemary, allow it to dry out in a warm, dark place for several hours. Make sure the herb has lost most of its moisture, otherwise the essential oil can become contaminated with mold and spoil.
Strip the leaves from the woody stalks of your dried rosemary.
If using a double-boiler, fill the bottom pot with water and add two to three ounces of rosemary leaves to the upper vessel. Cover with two cups of grapeseed oil. Simmer on low heat for three hours. If using a crockpot, combine the rosemary leaves with the grapeseed oil and heat on the lowest setting for three hours.
Strain the oil into a clean, sterilized glass jar. Seal and set aside in a cool, dark place.
Tips & Warnings
- All essential oils are diluted with carrier oils before use. Grapeseed oil is an ideal carrier oil for rosemary extraction since it is neutral-smelling, light and easily absorbed by the skin. However, apricot kernel oil and almond oil are suitable substitutes since they are more specialized for skin application and cosmetic use.
- While rosemary seasoning is always safe to consume, there is always a chance the herb can produce an allergic reaction in individuals.
- Since rosemary essential oil can be toxic if ingested, it should only be used topically. Any contact with eyes and open wounds should also be avoided.
- Rosemary is also purported to stimulate blood flow and increase circulation. Although this effect has not been scientifically validated, pregnant women should be especially cautious and avoid exposure to the herb. Since rosemary can inhibit the blood’s ability to clot, it can potentially interfere with anti-coagulant medication.
- Because the medicinal effects of rosemary and its components have not been studied in children, it should only be used as a therapeutic treatment for adults.