Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary Essential Oil

Other Names: Rosmarinus officinale

Composition: Rosemary oil is obtained through the distillation of the aerial parts of the herb. Rosemary has three primary chemotypes. The eucalyptol (1,8-cineol) type is often sourced from Italy or Morocco. The camphor-borneol type often comes from Spain, and the alpha-pinene-verbenone type is typically sourced from France or Corsica. However, specific chemotypes cannot be determined without evaluating a GCMS overview of the contents of an individual oil.

Description and History: Rosemary, the herb of remembrance, has a lengthy tradition in herbal medicine and is frequently noted for its aromatic benefits. Rosemary essential oil is more controversial in aromatherapy due to often cited connections between the oil and the onset of seizure activity.

Cross-Reference List: Aging; Chemical Sickness

Male Pattern Baldness: Men who are losing their hair often feel like there is no way to counter it, and certainly not botanically. However, in a clinical trial published in 2015, results favored rosemary EO to combat male pattern baldness. The study covered a span of six months and compared rosemary EO with monoxidil. Halfway through the study, there was no difference in mean hair count at all. However, at six months, both the pharmaceutical group and essential oil group had a significant burst of new hair growth. Both groups also experienced some itching as a side effect (Panahi et al, 2014). Consistency is key with this remedy – don't give up after a few months of no visible change.

Test Anxiety: Graduate nursing school students face rigorous testing with high stakes, so they were excellent candidates to analyze rosemary EO's ability to relieve test anxiety. Both rosemary and lavender were placed in a sachet and taken with the students to a test. Anxiety scales and pulse rates were lower with the sachet, and participants also indicated their appreciation for the intervention (McCaffrey, Thomas, & Kinzelman, 2009).

Contraindications: Rosemary oil should not be inhaled in medicinal doses or ingested by those with seizure disorders and medicinal applications should be avoided for those under the age of 7. It should also be avoided by those who are pregnant or may become pregnant. Rosemary oil is also contraindicated internally for those with liver disease, obstruction of bile ducts, and gallstones. Additionally, those with hypertension should avoid consumption of the oil.

Interactions: None known.

Notes: Because there are many chemical varieties (chemotypes) of rosemary essential oil, it is important to obtain a valid GC-MS report for the oil and look at the levels of key chemicals within the oil. This helps to distinguish between the above contraindications and identify chemotypes which might be more suitable for general health conditions, culinary applications, and advanced medicinal applications. As with all essential oils, if there is any doubt regarding the chemotype of oil you have, it is best to stick with environmental health uses to always err on the side of caution.

Optimal Preparations: Rosemary oil is best diluted in a carrier oil (olive, coconut, or a similar oil) for topical application for hair growth. It should not be applied undiluted and should not be ingested  in medicinal amounts without training in aromatic medicine. It can also be used in cleaning sprays or diffused throughout a room to boost memory. Large doses of direct inhalation are not recommended and are not necessary to achieve memory enhancing results. Alternatively, a rosemary plant can be used in the home to naturally release many of the beneficial volatile chemicals from the plant into the air. 

Dose: For topical applications, rosemary should be reduced to no more than a 10% total concentration for an otherwise healthy adult with a total application of up to 2 drops of oil, up to 3 times per day. In environmental health preparations, a total concentration of 5-10% is acceptable, though a 10% cleaning spray would become quite costly. Effective antimicrobial results can be obtained at a 2-3% dilution. For more potent or frequent applications, advanced training in aromatherapy from a postsecondary institute such as the Franklin Institute of Wellness is recommended. 

Dig Deeper

McCaffrey, R., Thomas, D. J., & Kinzelman, A. O. (2009). The Effects of Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oils on Test‐Taking Anxiety Among Graduate Nursing Students. Holistic nursing practice, 23(2), 88-93.

Panahi, Y., Taghizadeh, M., Marzony, E. T., & Sahebkar, A. (2014). Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial. Skinmed, 13(1), 15-21.


Meet Dr Hawkins

Dr. Hawkins brings 20 years of expertise in the integrative health field to her role as Executive Director of the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences and the leader of our clinical research team.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Health from Union Institute and University, a Master’s Degree in Health Education & Promotion from the University of Alabama, a post-graduate certificate in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a PhD in Health Research from Middle Tennessee State University, and is completing the post-doctoral Global Scholars Research Training Program at Harvard Medical School. She also holds certifications in numerous natural health fields including aromatherapy, aromatic medicine, herbalism, childbirth education, and labor support.