Rosemary Essential Oil…and it Fights Cancer!

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“Modern research is discovering that rosemary has some very important applications for our health. Here are six impressive uses and benefits:

1. Decreases Cortisol Levels. A small 2007 study published in Psychiatry Research by Japanese researchers found that five minutes of breathing in rosemary and lavender helped to decrease salivary cortisol levels in 22 healthy volunteers. Cortisol, released in response to stress by the adrenal glands, is sometimes referred to as the “stress hormone.” These same researchers also observed that the antioxidants in both rosemary and lavender essential oils enhanced the body’s free radical scavenging ability.

2. Inhibits Deadly Bacteria. Rosemary has long been used to improve skin by fighting bacteria and by cell renewal. A 2016 study done by Egyptian researchers appearing in Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology found that rosemary essential oil was able to significantly inhibit Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This is a gram-negative, multi-drug resistant pathogen associated with serious illnesses like ventilator-associated pneumonia and other sepsis conditions. Also, a 2015 study done by Brazilian researchers, released in Frontiers in Microbiology found that both rosemary and oregano essential oils had strong antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus. This is another deadly bacterium, better known as golden staph, also considered to be multi-drug resistant.

A study reported in 2012 by Chinese researchers, published in the journal Molecules, looked at the antibacterial activity of rosemary essential oil. They examined the main constituents of the oil − 1,8-cineole, alpha-pinene and beta-pinene − and compared the antibacterial activity of each constituent to the action of rosemary as a whole. They found that the whole essential oil was more powerful than the constituents on their own (no surprise really!).

3. Reduces Inflammation. A 2000 Brazilian study found that 1,8-Cineole has anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive (this means it reduces sensitivity to painful stimuli) properties. A 2008 animal study by Slovakian researchers reported in Acta Veterinaria Brno also found that rosemary essential oil has anti-inflammatory benefits. Further, a 2011 Iranian animal study found that rosemary essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties and could be considered a possible remedy for colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.

4. Fights Cancer. Dozens of research studies have been done on rosemary for its various phytochemicals and applications for cancer. One American study in particular on carnosol, appearing in the June 2011 edition of Cancer Letters, stated that carnosol appeared to be well tolerated in animal studies and that it has selective toxicity toward cancer cells versus healthy cells.

  • Liver Cancer: A 2014 study published in Interdisciplinary Toxicology by Slovakian researchers found that rosemary oil has anticancer activity in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer), the fifth most common cancer in the world. In addition, joint Saudi and Egyptian research published in 2016 in Pharmaceutical Biology found that rosemary extract has protective effects against hepatotoxicity (toxic effects of chemical drugs on the liver) caused by cyclophosphamide, a commonly used chemotherapy drug.
  • Colon Cancer: A 2015 Spanish study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology on rosemary leaf extract found that it has antiproliferative activity in human colon cancer cells. (This describes the ability of the compound to stop cancer cells from spreading.) A 2016 joint study by Spanish and Swedish researchers appearing in the June 2016 issue of Journal of Proteome Research also found rosemary extracts to have antiproliferative properties against human colon cancer cells.
  • Breast Cancer: Joint American and Spanish research published in 2015 in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry found that carnosol (one of the phytochemicals in rosemary) has potent anticancer activity against triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). TNBC is so named because cells of this type of breast cancer do not contain receptors for estrogen, progesterone, or the HER2 protein. Also, an American study released in 2012, appearing in the journal Fitoterapia, found that carnosic acid (another of the phytochemicals in rosemary) displayed significant inhibitory activity in several different ways against estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer cells. Interestingly, the researchers also mentioned a special synergy between rosemary and curcumin which is found in turmeric.
  • Skin Cancer: Italian research published in 2015 in the Journal PLoS One found that rosemary had an anti-proliferative effect on human melanoma (malignant skin cancer) cells. Researchers said rosemary “drastically” reduced melanoma cell growth and metabolic activity.
  • Adult T-cell Leukemia/Lymphoma: A 2014 Japanese study appearing in the journal Human Cell [20] found that carnosol (one of the phytochemicals in rosemary) induced apoptosis (planned cell death, a feature missing in cancer cells) in adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma cells.
  • Lung Cancer: An extract of rosemary was examined for its role in proliferation, survival, and apoptosis of human non-small cell lung cancer cells. Canadian researchers found rosemary to have “considerable anti-tumor and chemopreventive properties in lung cancer.” The study was reported in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy in July 2016.

5. Aids Hair Regrowth. Rosemary has been used traditionally for combatting hair loss. Researchers, comparing it with minoxidil (a commonly used drug for combating hair loss) found rosemary essential oil to be just as good as minoxidil (after 6 months of use). The study was released in 2015 in the journal SkinMed.

6. Assists Brain Health. Rosemary has long been revered for its ability to help overcome mental fatigue, improving mental clarity and focus. Now, Japanese researchers have shown that rosemary can do more than that. The research, published in 2015 in Neuroscience Research stated that carnosic acid (one of rosemary’s phytochemicals) has neuroprotective functions in brain cells. They said carnosic acid “served as an activator for neuroprotective and neurotrophic functions in brain cells.” They also stated it may be helpful in the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.”


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