Rosemary essential oil is a combination of over thirty individual components that work together to give the oil its individual properties. Alone, these components will not have the same effect as when they are combined in the oil. Rosemary essential oil is mainly composed of a-Pinene, camphene, sabinene, tricyclene, limonene, 1,8-Cineole, linalool, camphor and verbenone. Here is an explanation of the more common components and how they give clove oil its healing and aromatherapy characteristics.
An organic compound of the terpene class, a-Pinene is found in many evergreen trees, including the rosemary bush. It acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, meaning tat it can improve memory. This is one of rosemary’s most common uses and recent studies have suggested that it may be able to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. It is also a bronchodilator, making rosemary oil a possible treatment for many respiratory issues, such as asthma, bronchitis and the common cold. The best way to use rosemary for this purpose is to add it do a pot of boiling water and inhale the steam for several minutes. While it may be able to help with asthma symptoms, it should not be relied on as a treatment to stop an asthma attack and in rare instances, it can make an attack worse.
Camphene is a bicyclic monoterpene. It has a pungent smell and is a minor constituent of many essential oils, including rosemary. It is often used in the preparation of fragrances and as a food additive for flavoring.
Sabinene is like camphene and is also a natural bicyclic monoterpene. When present in essential oils, it adds a little spiciness to both the aroma and flavor.
Limonene is a cyclic terpene and is a colorless liquid hydrocarbon. It is found in large quantities in the rind of a lemon, hence its name, but it is also present in rosemary oil. One of its most common uses is in cleaning products. It is often found in hand cleaners because of its pleasing scent and ability to dissolve oils. Limonene is also a common ingredient in perfume, bath products and other scented body care products.
1,8-Ceneole is a common ingredient in many essential oils and is known for being the main ingredient in eucalyptus oil. It is also found in rosemary oil and has been the center of many controlled studies that focus on its effects on the human body. Studies have found that it can treat headaches, control asthma symptoms, reduce inflammation and relieve pain. All of these are suggested uses for rosemary oil.
Linalool is a naturally occurring terpene alcohol that is found in many plants throughout the world. It is a common ingredient in scented hygiene products and cleaning agents but it is also found in rosemary oil. A study that focused on the effects of linalool in lab rats found that it was able to bring down their stress levels, which may be one of the reasons that rosemary oil is becoming a popular natural treatment for stress, anxiety and depression. When the oil is diffused throughout a room, it can quickly help someone to see a dark situation in a new light, raise their spirits and help the body return to a more calm nature.
When linalool is exposed to oxygen, a reaction takes place that can lead to allergic reactions in some. Most testing shows that up to 7% of people can be allergic to the topical application of products containing large amounts of linalool. This is rare with rosemary oil but it should be noted that a test patch is always recommended before applying a solution containing any essential oil over a large area of the body.
Camphor has a very strong odor and is often used to describe the scent of rosemary oil. It is a terpenoid and is found in many evergreen trees. Dried rosemary leaves contain up to 20% camphor. It is also found in large amounts in rosemary oil. Camphor is said to treat sprains and inflammation in the body. Rosemary oil is often made into a pain cream by mixing it with a carrier oil and applying it to injured or sore parts of the body. It can also be added to bath water to help with inflammation all over the body due to a variety of causes, one of them being arthritis. Camphor is also an active ingredient in over the counter products such as cough suppressants and decongestants. Rosemary oil is often used to treat congestion and other symptoms of colds and flues by being directly inhaled. Camphor can be lethal if consumed in large amounts, which is one of the many reasons that rosemary oil should never be ingested by itself and in large quantities. In 1980, the US Food and Drug Administrations actually set a limit of 11% allowable camphor in consumer products to prevent overdoses.
Verbenone is a natural organic compound that is found naturally in a large variety of plants, including the rosemary bush. It is often used for insect control and is very effective against the bark beetle and the mountain pine beetle, both which are major threats to pine trees. Verbenone may be part of the reason that rosemary can be used as a natural insect repellent. When planted in a vegetable garden, it helps to keep plants pest free. The leaves can also be dried and ground into a powder. This powder can be used near pet beds to keep them free of fleas and ticks.
Rosemary leaves contain plenty of compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. The flower tops especially contain rosmarinic acid, which is a strong antioxidant. They are also a great source of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium.
One ounce of fresh rosemary: