From Dr. Mercola:
If you’ve walked through the herbal section of a greenhouse, one fragrance you may detect is rosemary. A woody, perennial herb, rosemary is related to other members of the mint family such as basil and oregano.
The Latin name Rosmarinus officinal means “dew of the sea,” which lends this popular perennial a sort of mystical elegance.
With its origins in the Mediterranean, silver-tinged rosemary is very hardy and versatile. Its evergreen essence is a savory culinary marvel cooked in meats such as lamb, chicken or pot roasts, but it’s equally delicious in vegetable dishes such as potatoes, tomatoes and squash.
Because it’s quite strong, it doesn’t take much to create a pleasant flavor with rosemary or rosemary oil, whether you use it whole, or dry the leaves and crumble them into a powder for sprinkling into or onto foods. Drying it quickly helps keep its color and essential oils.
Culinary experts say the best time to harvest rosemary is just prior to blooming in the late summer or fall. Long stems can be hung upside down in a dark area with good air circulation, or you can also freeze the sprigs, strip off the leaves and refreeze them in plastic storage bags.
Rosemary is easy to grow in most areas. You just need to bring it indoors if you live in areas that have below freezing temperatures in the winter. I enjoy rosemary nearly every day in my salad. I simply snip off a few branches, strip the leaves and cut them very finely with a sharp knife.
Rosemary’s Remarkable History, aka What We Forgot
Rosemary has a long tradition in the realms of traditional medicine and was used for everything from growing hair to soothing muscle pain to improving the circulatory and immune systems.
Ancient Greek scholars are said to have worn rosemary garlands on their heads during examinations to jog their memories, and Shakespeare mentioned rosemary in five of his plays. One of his most famous characters, Olivia, mentioned rosemary as an herb for remembrance (although she met a tragic end soon thereafter).
“A Modern Herbal,”1 published by Maud Grieve in 1931, included an amazingly thorough list of herbs and plants, with folksy information on their uses down through the ages. One use she revealed for rosemary is quite interesting:
“It was an old custom to burn rosemary in sick chambers, and in French hospitals it is customary to burn rosemary with juniper berries to purify the air and prevent infection. Like rue, it was placed in the dock of courts of justice, as a preventative from the contagion of gaol-fever.”
Gaol, or jail, was where a number of prisoners contracted a typhus-like, highly infectious disease. The physicians of the period may have been on to something, because modern-day scientists have identified rosemary as an herb with anti-bacterial qualities.
It begs the question: if rosemary’s link to memory and infectious disease was understood 500 years ago and beyond, what might Renaissance scholars