7 Surprising Health Benefits of Rosemary

Health & Wellness

rosemary In the wake of a recent NYT article suggesting that cooking with Rosemary, a daily ritual in the Italian city of Acciaroli,  contributes to healthy longevity (living to 90 and older with excellent brain and heart function), let’s review 7 surprising health benefits of Rosemary and why it should also be part of your everyday diet!

  1. Improves Mood and Concentration: The aroma of rosemary oil can improve mood and concentration (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207450390161903).  Not only does rosemary increase alertness in healthy men and women but studies found cognitive improvement in patients Alzheimer’s disease when Rosemary was used as part of aromatherapy over 1 month (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20377818).
  2. Restores Hair: A recent study comparing rosemary oil to minoxidil (Rogaine), in bald men and women found significant increases in hair counts after 6 months in both groups.  However, there were fewer side effects following daily application of rosemary oil to the scalp (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25842469).
  3. Reduces Anxiety & Stress:  As with lavender oil, the use of rosemary oil as aromatherapy also reduces anxiety.  This was especially pleasing to nursing students where this treatment reduced stress levels and improved their overall final test scores (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19258850).
  4.  Regulates Blood Glucose: Recent studies have found that rosemary extract improves glucose uptake in muscle suggesting that rosemary may be useful in the fight against insulin resistance and diabetes (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25794239).
  5. Improves Blood Flow.  In a group of young healthy volunteers, rosemary extract dilated blood vessels, improved blood flow and reduced susceptibility to blood clot formation (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20734322).
  6. Has Anti-Cancer Properties:  Rosemary extract contains powerful antioxidant chemicals (polyphenols) that inhibit the growth and accelerate death of cancer cells (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27470574).
  7. Prevents Wrinkles: Rosemary also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and studies have found that rosemary extract accelerates wound healing and may reduce wrinkles and skin aging (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4931025/).

For more information, see Dr. Miller’s website: http://www.drmichaelmiller.org

His latest book “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” is Amazon’s top rated book in Heart Disease. Proceeds from Dr. Miller’s book are donated to the American Heart Association.




Health & Wellness

Dietary supplements are a multibillion dollar per year industry and they are not regulated by the FDA compared to over the counter (OTC) products such as Advil and Nexium.   Dietary supplements come in many forms and they include vitamins, minerals, herbs and amino acids.   Several manufacturers of herbal supplements have fallen under scrutiny recently for allegedly failing to include herbs.

There is another big problem with dietary supplements when it comes to heart health.   That is, even when all active ingredients are present, there is no evidence that they work better than a placebo pill! In fact, research has shown that Vitamins A, B, C and E in supplement form do not reduce “hard endpoints” such as risk of heart attacks, strokes or improve survival. They don’t even reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood glucose. The jury on Vitamin D and omega-3 fish oil supplements is still out with a large NIH funded trial nearing completion, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, an alarming trend in the medical community is the growing number of doctors who are selling dietary supplements in their medical practices. They peddle these compounds without telling their patients that in most cases, they are simply swallowing very expensive placebo pills.   One example is nitric oxide (NO) supplements that are reported to dilate blood levels and improve vascular health. Yet, clinical trials to date have not shown that NO supplements either reduce heart attacks or even improve the health of heart attack survivors.

My colleagues and I who take care of patients at major academic Medical Centers take great pride in conducting randomized clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of treatments aimed at improving heart health. We do not prescribe dietary supplements because they lack sound scientific evidence and do not replace or supplement optimal lifestyle recommendations provided.   In the same vein, doctors who prescribe their brand of supplements also bear the responsibility of informing their patients of the “proven benefits”. This should not imply a “trust me, I’m the doctor” exchange but rather should include reprints of studies published in peer review medical journals. If your doctor(s) cannot provide that information, then I would be wary of their practice.

Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is Chair, Governor Hogan’s Advisory Panel on Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Section Editor for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (the world’s premier cardiology journal) and a member of the American Heart Association Leadership Council.

His book “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” is Amazon’s #1 Rated book in Heart Disease. All proceeds from Dr. Miller’s book are donated to the American Heart Association.