Rosemary oil is an essential oil extracted from the Rosemary herb. Since rosemary has been a staple herb in most gardens, its essential oil is also very popular. Rosemary essential oil is clear, highly fragrant oil which smells much like the herb. Rosemary oil is widely used in many home and medicinal applications. One can find it everywhere, in candles, aromatherapy massage oils, scented candles, soaps, shampoos and many natural medicines. Its aroma is very pervading in the environment and deeply interacts with a person’s mood and can change it too.


Rosemary essential oil is obtained from the leaves of Rosmarinus officinalis. Although the essential oil comes from a single species of Rosemary, there are many varieties of this herb, depending on where it is grown. This creates minor differences in the aroma of these oils. These variations in an essential oil are called Chemotypes. Rosemary essential oil has three main Chemotypes (CT).

Rosemary Oil
  • Rosemary essential oil [ camphor dominant ]  – This variety of rosemary essential oil has high concentration of camphor. This makes the aroma sharp, cool and more camphoraceous smell than a rosemary like smell. This oil can be irritating to the skin, especially when used undiluted.
  • Rosemary essential oil [ Verbenone dominant ] – This oil is quite pleasing and its smell is very little camphoraceous. This essential oil is non irritating. The prominent smell is that of verbenone, which has a smell which resembles rosemary and pine.
  • Rosemary essential oil [Eucalyptol dominant ] – This is dominant in eucalyptol, which is an aromatic compound also known as 1,8 – cineole. This is the most common rosemary variety. Most rosemary essential oils are made from this variety.

Rosemary has a unique aroma which is a mix of camphoraceous, floral and herbaceous.


Rosemary essential oil has a huge list of therapeutic properties which have pharmacological applications and at home too. These properties reassert why rosemary essential oil is so widely used since ancient times.

  • Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation when applied topically.
  • Analgesic – It reduces pain.
  • Expectorant – it promotes the body in expelling phlegm.
  • Anti-epileptic – rosemary essential oil calms epilepsy attacks and seizures.
  • Cholagogue – stimulates the discharge of bile acids from the liver.
  • Cholerectic – improves the volume of bile produced. This can improve digestion of fats and better cleansing of the guts.
  • Carminative – helps in expelling intestinal gas.
  • Anti-colitis – can provide relief from inflammatory bowel conditions, like ulcerative colitis.
  • Anti-rheumatic – provides relief in the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Anti-edema – reduces swelling.
  • Anti-nociceptive – inhibits the sensation of pain which goes through nerves to the brain.
  • Anti-depressant – can relieve depression.
  • Digestive – improves digestion of the stomach. The essential oil can improve the quality of gastric acid secretions.
  • Anti-spasmodic – relieves and prevents muscular spasms.
  • Astringent – shrinks skin when applied.
  • Hypertensive – it may increase blood pressure
  • Rubefacient – reduces redness on skin
  • Emmenagogue – increases blood flow to the pelvic region
  • Anti-cellulite – it reduces the appearance of cellulite.
  • Sudorific – induces more sweat production
  • Nervine  – supports and stimulates the nervous system.
  • Diuretic – aids in urinating completely, which gets rid of excess water in the system.
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-fungal

Rosemary essential oil really possesses a very large number of pharmacological properties.

Uses And Health Benefits

Rosemary essential oil easily more than 100 uses. These are some of the most common uses of rosemary essential oil based on its properties and health benefits.

Rosemary oil for Hair

Rosemary essential oil helps to speed up growth of hair. People who want their hair to grow a bit faster can make use of rosemary essential oil. Add 6 – 8 drops of rosemary essential oil in a shampoo ( preferably herbal shampoo ) and rinse the scalp with it. After washing the hair, massage the scalp with a warm hair oil, like jojoba oil or coconut oil which has few drops of rosemary essential oil. This two step treatment done at home can help one achieve longer hair in lesser time.
Applying rosemary essential oil on the scalp is helpful in regrowing hair on bald patches in Alopecia areata [1]. In a study, 84 people rubbed rosemary essential oil and some other ones like lavender, sage etc in smaller amounts on their scalp, while few others were placebo. People who applied the essential oils experienced improvement in terms of regrowth of hair over bald scalp. It is believed that this effect is primarily due to rosemary essential oil. This hair growth effect may take time to show up and it really varies from person to person as to when the closed hair roots will spring back to life.
Rosemary essential oil helps in preventing fungal scalp infections ( which often lead to hair loss ) like tine capitis [2], dissolving away dandruff and reduces scalp pimples ( these are quite common ). In fact, many people lose lot of hair when a large pimple oozes fluid. Scalp acne or pimples should be taken seriously.
Do not use rosemary essential oil undiluted on scalp. Dilute it in a carrier oil.

Rosemary oil for skin

Rosemary oil should be applied by adding 4 drops of this essential oil in about 20 ml of carrier oil. Dilution is necessary when using rosemary oil. Perform a mild massage on the skin with this oil and let it get soaked into the skin. These are the uses and health benefits of rosemary oil for skin.

  • Reduces Saggy Skin – Rosemary oil is an astringent. When applied on the skin, it pulls the skin cells together as though trying to shrink or compress them. This effect reduces sagging in skin and makes it stronger and more supple.
  • Reduces any kind of marks or scars – Add rosemary oil and vitamin E to carrier oil. This combination helps to reduce the visibility of stretch marks, acne scars and scars created by cuts, scrapes and wounds. It also reduces wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Protect the skin from free radicals – Rosemary essential oil has strong antioxidant capacity. It thus defends the skin cells from damage by free radicals in our environment.
  • Apply on insect bites – Once the sting of an insect bite reduces, there is still lots of swelling left. One generally applies ice on this. However, applying some rosemary essential oil can reduce the swelling and the redness of the bite.
  • Treat fungal skin infections – Rosemary essential oil can be applied directly to fungal infections [3], like athlete’s foot and ringworm. One can use it undiluted ( neat ) for stronger power.
  • For dermatitis and eczema – In these conditions, skin is irritated and itchy. Add aloe vera gel, rosemary essential oil in a beeswax base and apply only on eczema lesions. This combination is completely natural and relieves itching. This may also work for psoriasis.

Rosemary oil to relieve pain

For most kinds of body pain, aches and muscular stress, massage with rosemary oil. Add 3 – 4 drops of rosemary oil in about 30 ml of carrier oil ( any good massage oil ) and then massage it over the painful area. Let the oil sink into the skin. This should provide relief from pain and fatigue. For pain due to muscular knots, like in the back, use knuckles to massage the oil.
For arthritic pain in the joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis, add 6 – 8 drops of rosemary oil in a carrier that is powerful anti-inflammatory, like olive oil. Apply copious amount of oil and cover it with a cloth to prevent the oil from getting rubbed off.
This health benefits comes from the fact that rosemary essential oil is antinociceptive [4] and analgesic in nature.

Rosemary Oil for Acne

Rosemary oil is non-comedogenic and powerful natural essential oil for acne. It works by reducing the inflammation and redness around an acne pimple. When the redness goes away and the pimple depresses in size, these zits look less prominent on the face. One can apply direct undiluted rosemary essential oil only on acne pimples by using a cotton swab. If the oil feels too sharp and stingy, use a carrier oil and do a massage instead. A good choice would be Jojoba oil, which is also non-comedogenic.

Rosemary essential oil for respiratory trouble

The aroma of rosemary can aid the body in dilating the bronchi and allowing air to flow easily. This reduces chest congestion and many other problems like phlegm, cough and sinusitis. Add 4 – 6 drops of rosemary essential oil to a vaporizer and let its aroma diffuse into the room. This smell is also helpful in asthma. VOC ( Volatile organic compounds ) in rosemary oil kill many bacteria in the air, essentially filtering the air quite effectively. This can protect us from air borne respiratory infection like bronchitis. For nasal congestion, one can put some peppermint leaves in an empty nasal inhaler. Sprinkle few drops of rosemary essential oil over the leaves and close the inhaler. Smell from this inhaler deep into the nose. It reduces inflammation in the mucus membranes in the nose and prompts blood vessels to drain back. This also helps in unblocking a nose.

Mental health benefits

Rosemary smell awakens a person, making a person more conscious and aware [5]. It relieves fatigue and is invigorating. However,some people find the oil relaxing. Inhaling the aroma of rosemary oil straight from the bottle or using a vaporizer can aid in reducing depressive thoughts and think positively. Rosemary oil seems to interact with the mind and calm it down. It can help the person focus and think better and crystal clear.
Rosemary oil also has nervine property. Using it to massage the entire back helps to keep the nervous system healthier. Our nerves emerge from the spinal cord. So, a deep massage of the back, especially over the backbone helps to protect and strengthen the nerves. Rosemary essential oil reduces inflammation which is a main cause of nerve damage.

  • Its smell improves alertness.
  • Its aroma can make one feel more confident about something, so it is great for workplace or in business office. Also great for use in your car when you need to stay super alert on long distance drives.
  • It can reduce mental fatigue and help one overcome the emotion of exhaustion.
  • May be able to help with your reflexes.
  • Improves memory faculty of the brain.
  • Aromatherapy performed using rosemary essential oil and lemon essential oil is helpful for Alzheimer’s patients [6]. Daily aromatherapy sessions using these essential oils boosts cognitive function scores.

Rosemary essential oil in Acupressure

This is an ancient Chinese art which fixes health problems by stimulating the pressure points of that condition. Rosemary essential oil is used to improve the efficacy of an Acupressure massage done to stimulate only a few pressure points on the body. This practice can provide relief from the following conditions.

  • Improved liver health – massage 1 – 2 drops of rosemary oil on the pressure points of the liver in the hands and feet. Provide deep pressure at the the points.
  • For respiratory problems – massage the pressure points with 1- 2 drops of rosemary oil.
  • For pain relief – This oil can be used to relieve pain in a specific area. For example, if you are experiencing pain in stomach. Instead of doing a stomach massage, one can apply pressure at the pressure point of stomach with some rosemary oil there.

Other health benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil

These are some other benefits that one can reap by using rosemary oil.

  • Better blood circulation – Inhaling the rosemary essential oil improves blood circulation.
  • Low blood pressure – people who suffer from hypotension ( chronic low blood pressure ) can benefit by inhaling rosemary oil. It increases blood pressure slightly.
  • Anxiety and Nervousness – Deeply inhale the rosemary essential oil. This relieves anxiety and is good for the nervous situations.

Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity issues

Rosemary essential oil is a strong and sharp oil. It is advised to dilute it before applying topically. Using it undiluted ( NEAT ) on skin may be fine for some people, but has the potential of causing dermatitis. It should never be ingested undiluted. Rosemary essential oil may be used in very small doses ( 1 -2 drops ) in recipes, especially for preserving meat. Although there is hardly any need for ingesting this oil for health benefits, as most of the benefits can be obtained via outside methods.

It should not be used by people with these health conditions.

  • People who suffer from seizures should avoid rosemary essential oil. Even though it is anti-epileptic, there are reports where it has aggravated seizures. It may even cause them in the first place.
  • People who have high blood pressure problem ( hypertension ) should avoid rosemary essential oil, as it mildly elevates blood pressure.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Rosemary essential oil, like most other essential oils is very low in essential fatty acids. It is rich in micro-nutrients and aromatic compounds. These are the major compounds found in rosemary essential oil and their health benefits.

  • α – Pinene  – It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-pathogen nutrient, which is found in many essential oils. It is also effective against certain fungal species.
  • Eucalyptol ( 1,8 – cineole ) – Rosemary essential oil has considerable amount of Eucalyptol which is found in high amounts in Eucalyptus essential oil. It provides relief from respiratory distress, sinusitis and kills many airborne bacteria.
  • Camphene – It is an explosive pungent smell aromatic compound.
  • Camphor – It provides relief from respiratory difficulty and provides relief from pain and itching. Camphor is a sharp, cooling volatile compound.
  • Myrcene – Volatile compound with pleasant odor and used in perfumes. A powerful antioxidant as well.

This is a detailed nutritional composition of rosemary essential oil.

Nutrient Percentage
α – Pinene  43.9
1,8 – cineole  11.1
Camphene  8.6
β- Myrcene  3.9
Borneol  3.4
Camphor  2.4
Bornyl Acetate  2.5
Verbenone  2.3
Verbenol  2.2

Data Source : [7]

Important chemical properties of Rosemary essential oil

Nutrient Percentage Property
Density  0.89 g/ml light, low in density
Storage temperature  – No specific requirements
Comedogenicity  2 Rated from 0 to 5
ORAC  330 Trolox  Mild antioxidant

Data Source : [8]
Rosemary essential oil is excellent because of its unique health benefits. It is great for aromatherapy at home or at a spa for relieving stress and feeling more confident about your goals in life.


1. Rosemary – University of Maryland Medical Center.
2. Tinea capitis – Medline Plus.
3. Potential of rosemary oil to be used in drug-resistant infections. Luqman S1, Dwivedi GR, Darokar MP, Kalra A, Khanuja SP.
4. Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil in experimental animal models. Takaki I, Bersani-Amado LE, Vendruscolo A, Sartoretto SM, Diniz SP, Bersani-Amado CA, Cuman RK.NCBI.
5. Effects of Inhaled Rosemary Oil on Subjective Feelings and Activities of the Nervous System. Winai Sayorwan,Nijsiri Ruangrungsi,Teerut Piriyapunyporn,Tapanee Hongratanaworakit, Naiphinich Kotchabhakdi and Vorasith Siripornpanich. NCBI.
6. Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Jimbo D, Kimura Y, Taniguchi M, Inoue M, Urakami K. NCBI.
7. Chemical Composition of Hydrodistillation Essential Oil of Rosemary in Different Origins in Iran and Comparison with Other Countries. R. Jamshidi, Z. Afzali and D. Afzali. NCBI.
8. Essential Oils Desk reference.

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