Health Benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil

Herbs in small glass jar
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Rosemary essential oil is a type of essential oil commonly used in aromatherapy. Sourced from the flowers of the Rosmarinus officinalis plant (an herb native to the Mediterranean), rosemary essential oil is said to offer a wide range of health benefits.

Health Benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil:

Although research on the aromatherapeutic use of rosemary essential oil is fairly limited, there's some evidence that rosemary essential oil may offer certain health benefits.

Here's a look at several key findings from the available studies on rosemary essential oil:

1) Anxiety

Breathing in the scent of rosemary essential oil may help relieve anxiety, according to a study published in Holistic Nursing Practice in 2009. In an experiment involving a group of nursing students, researchers found that use of sachets containing lavender and rosemary essential oils helped reduce anxiety associated with test-taking.

2) Stress

In a 2007 study published in Psychiatry Research, scientists found that inhaling the aroma of rosemary essential oil may help lower stress levels. For the study, 22 healthy volunteers sniffed the aroma of lavender and rosemary essential oils for five minutes. Results revealed that both essential oils caused a decrease in levels of cortisol (a hormone released as part of the body's stress response).

3) Brain Function

Several studies suggest that rosemary essential oil may help improve brain function.

In a 2003 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, for instance, researchers determined that participants exposed to the odor of rosemary essential oil while taking a test experienced an improvement in cognitive performance. Involving 144 volunteers, the study also found that rosemary essential oil helped improve mood.

4) Alzheimer's Disease

Rosemary essential oil may be of some benefit to people with Alzheimer's disease, according to a small study published in Psychogeriatrics in 2009. In tests on 28 older adults (including 17 Alzheimer's patients), researchers found that one month of aromatherapy involving rosemary, lemon, lavender, and orange essential oils helped enhance cognitive function, especially in participants with Alzheimer's.

Uses for Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary essential oil is typically touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • anxiety
  • arthritis
  • the common cold
  • constipation
  • coughs
  • dandruff
  • depression
  • the flu
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • indigestion
  • migraine
  • sinus problems
  • varicose veins

In addition, rosemary essential oil is said to reduce pain, sharpen memory, alleviate stress, improve digestion, and stimulate circulation.

How To Use Rosemary Essential Oil

When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), rosemary essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths.

Rosemary essential oil can also be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue, or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.


Rosemary essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional.

Internal use of rosemary essential oil may have toxic effects.

It's also important to note that self-treating a condition (such as depression or Alzheimer's disease) with rosemary essential oil, and avoiding or delaying standard care, may have serious consequences.

In addition, use of rosemary essential oil should be avoided during pregnancy. Pregnant women and children should consult their primary health care providers prior to using essential oils.

Before using essential oils topically, they should be diluted in a carrier oil. With essential oils, there is a risk of contact sensitivity. A skin patch test is recommended before using any new essential oil.

Learn more about how to use essential oils.

Where To Find It

Here are some tips on purchasing essential oils.

Widely available for purchase online, rosemary essential oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in self-care products.

Using Rosemary Essential Oil

Due to a lack of supporting research, it's too soon to recommend rosemary essential oil in the treatment for any condition. If you're considering using it, talk to your doctor first. Keep in mind that rosemary essential oil should not be used as a substitute for standard care in treatment of a chronic health condition.


Atsumi T, Tonosaki K. "Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva." Psychiatry Res. 2007 Feb 28;150(1):89-96.

Jimbo D, Kimura Y, Taniguchi M, Inoue M, Urakami K. "Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer's disease." Psychogeriatrics. 2009 Dec;9(4):173-9.

McCaffrey R, Thomas DJ, Kinzelman AO. "The effects of lavender and rosemary essential oils on test-taking anxiety among graduate nursing students." Holist Nurs Pract. 2009 Mar-Apr;23(2):88-93.

Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P. "Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults." Int J Neurosci. 2003 Jan;113(1):15-38.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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