Rosemary Leaf & Oil

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

The rosemary plant, Rosmarinus officinalis L (family Lamiaceae), is an aromatic evergreen shrub originating in the Mediterranean region and now growing widely in Europe, Asia, and Africa. This plant has been used extensively as a culinary spice in a variety of contexts. Rosemary and its extracts also are used as food preservatives and enhancers of sensory and functional properties. Today, research attention is focusing more closely on whether this herb may have potential to alleviate complications of obesity and diabetes, inflammation-associated conditions, and neurological deficits.

Recent research has shown that whether consumed as an essential oil, tea or seasoning, rosemary benefits can include promoting digestive health, mental clarity, hair and skin health, relaxation and more.

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Rosemary Nutrition

According to USDA, fresh rosemary has a high reserve of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamin, and folate. It contains minerals like magnesium, calcium, and iron. Moreover, it has abundant antioxidants in the form of phenolic compounds like diterpene, carnosol, and rosmarinic acid. The essential oils in it contain powerful ingredients such as cineol, camphene, borneol, bornyl acetate, α-terpineol, and α-pinene.

Benefits of Consuming Rosemary Leaf

Antimicrobial. Within rosemary there are compounds that can help defend against proliferation of certain types of harmful bacteria, including those that contribute to infections. Rosemary extracts are even used as food preservatives in some cases because they can help stop bacteria from growing. The smell of rosemary also acts as a natural bug repellent and may help prevent certain insect bites, including from ticks and other bugs that can spread illnesses and viruses.

Antioxidants. Because of its rich supply of antioxidants and bioactive chemicals (including phenolic diterpenes, such as carnosol and caffeoyl derivatives), consuming rosemary can help fight oxidative stress and support the immune system. It is also known to promote healthy circulation and to defend against inflammation, which can lead to pain. Another way that rosemary’s antioxidants can be beneficial is due to the ability to promote skin health by fighting free radical damage that leads to signs of aging.

Cancer. Rosemary contains carnosic acid, a compound known for its powerful antioxidant properties. Studies have found that carnosic acid can slow the growth of cancer cells in the body and even lower the risk of developing tumors.

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Gut Health. Rosemary has traditionally been used as a natural remedy for upset stomach, constipation, gas, bloating as it helps in relaxing the muscles of the intestine. Adding it to your diet can help you regulate your bowel movements and your gastrointestinal system. One study showed that in test subjects with colitis, treatment with rosemary extract was effective to reduce colon tissue lesions and colitis. This, in turn, helps maintain gut health and fight gut diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis.

Immune Support. Studies have shown that the carnosic and rosmarinic acids in rosemary have powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Consuming rosemary regularly can potentially help lower the risk of infection and help the immune system fight any infections that do occur.

Indigestion. This herb, whether cooked with or steeped in herbal tea, has long been a natural remedy for digestive issues, including loss of appetite, heart burn/acid reflux, gas, bloating and abdominal pains. It seems capable of stimulating the release of digestive fluids including bile, which assists in digestion and can support normal nutrient absorption.

Low blood pressure. Early research shows that taking rosemary oil three times per day increases the top number in a blood pressure reading (systolic blood pressure) and the bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) in people with low blood pressure. Blood pressure seems to return to pretreatment values once rosemary use is stopped.

Memory. Taking rosemary by mouth may mildly improve memory in young adults. Using rosemary aromatherapy seems to improve some measures of memory. Rosemary aromatherapy also seems to increase alertness.

Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Early research shows that taking powdered rosemary leaves might improve memory speed in healthy, older adults. But higher doses seem worsen memory. Other early research shows that taking a product containing rosemary, lemon balm, and sage improves memory in healthy adults 62 years or younger. But it does not seem to improve memory in adults 63 years or older.

Metabolic Health. Rosemary has been associated with metabolic benefits including helping to treat high blood sugar and poor insulin sensitivity. While it likely will not be enough to prevent diabetes on its own, it is recommended for people who wish to improve their high blood sugar levels.

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Withdrawal from heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs. Early research suggests that taking rosemary leaves along with methadone, improves opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Benefits of Using Rosemary Oil

Hair Growth. Rosemary oil helps to promote hair growth, prevent baldness, slow graying, and treat dandruff. A comparative study published in 2015 shows that rosemary oil is effective in treating alopecia by boosting hair growth. At six months, a significant increase in hair count was noted for the group treated with rosemary oil. It also promotes healing by increasing microcirculation of the scalp and decreases hair loss after shampooing.

Male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). Early research suggests that applying rosemary oil to the scalp is as effective as minoxidil for increasing hair count in people with male-pattern baldness.

Mental Activity. Rosemary essential oil is an excellent brain and nerve tonic. It is often used by students during exam times because it increases concentration and helps in studying efficiently. It stimulates mental activity and is a good remedy for depression, mental fatigue and forgetfulness. Inhaling rosemary oil seems lift your spirits immediately. Whenever your brain is tired, try inhaling a little rosemary oil to remove boredom and renew your mental energy.

Pain Relief. The ability of rosemary essential oil to relieve pain has resulted in its extensive use in treating headaches, muscle pains, rheumatism and even arthritis. Massaging the affected area that is in pain with rosemary essential oil can give quickly relieve the pain. Vapor baths with rosemary oil are also found to be effective in the treatment of rheumatism. It has certain anti-inflammatory qualities as well, which makes it perfect for relieving the pain from sprains and joint aches. Furthermore, it is known to stimulate blood circulation, which can relieve pain and aid in coagulation of wounds for faster healing.

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Respiratory Problems. The benefits of rosemary essential oil in treating respiratory problems are well-researched and supported. The scent of the oil has been shown to give relief from throat congestion, and it is also used in the treatment of respiratory allergies, colds, sore throats and the flu. Since rosemary oil also has antiseptic qualities, it is also effective for respiratory infections. The oil is antispasmodic and is therefore used in some treatment programs for bronchial asthma.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Recent research suggests that the use of rosemary essential oil’s antimicrobial qualities can help reduce the effects and recurring inflammation of the herpes virus. The herpes virus can quickly develop immunity to normal antiviral medication, so alternative methods are always being explored. Several studies have now shown the essential oil of rosemary to be an effective option for reducing the symptoms of the Herpes virus in test subjects, and even affects the level of contagiousness of the virus.

Skin care. Rosemary essential oil is not used in skin care as extensively as it is used in hair care, but it does have antimicrobial and antiseptic qualities that make it beneficial in efforts to eliminate eczema, dermatitis, oily skin, and acne. Topical application of the essential oil, or regular massage with the oil helps in toning your skin and removing dryness. It can also give your skin a healthy, even glow when applied regularly, or when it is a main component of your moisturizers and other creams.

Stress. Some early research suggests that rosemary and lavender oil aromatherapy may reduce pulse rates, but not blood pressure, in people taking tests. Rosemary may have a calming effect on those who suffer from anxiety and depression. An animal study conducted on the antidepressant effects of rosemary concluded that the herb is effective in improving the symptoms of depression. These beneficial effects were observed even with repeated administration two weeks later. Furthermore, it may also reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, which helps ease tension in the body.

Dosing of Rosemary

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH: For memory: 500 milligrams of rosemary extract twice daily for one month has been used.

INHALED AS AROMATHERAPY: For memory: Four drops of pure rosemary essential oil (Tisserand Aromatherapy) has been applied to an aromatherapy diffuser pad 5 minutes before testing.

Ways to Eat Rosemary

  • It is made into herbal tea to promote digestive health and relaxation.
  • It helps season meats in the cuisines of Europe and the Middle East.
  • It is often found in marinades for lamb, pork, turkey and chicken dishes.
  • Rosemary leaves are added to soups and beverages in India for their flavor and nutrient content.
  • Whether dried or fresh, it is added to stews, casseroles, fish, potatoes, salads, pastas, and breads in many European countries.
  • The Spruce Eats recommends also pairing it with grains, mushrooms, onions, peas and spinach.

Rosemary Tea

  1. To make rosemary herbal tea, combine 1 teaspoon of chopped herbs (preferably fresh) with 8 ounces of water.
  2. Steep the herbs for 5 minutes or longer, depending on the strength you’re looking for.
  3. You can also add other herbs and flavor enhancers, including lavender, thyme, parsley, lemon juice or raw honey.
  4. Consuming about 1–2 cups daily is safe for most, although use caution if you take any medications

Side Effects of Consuming Rosemary

Consuming large amounts of Rosemary leaf or essential oil can cause vomiting, uterine bleeding, kidney irritation, increased sun sensitivity, skin redness, and allergic reactions.

Rosemary might stimulate menstruation or affect the uterus, causing a miscarriage. There is not enough reliable information to know if rosemary is safe when applied to the skin when pregnant. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Aspirin allergy. Rosemary contains a chemical that is like aspirin. This chemical may cause a reaction in people who are allergic to aspirin.

Bleeding disorders. Rosemary might increase the risk of bleeding and bruising in people with bleeding disorders. Use cautiously.

Seizure disorders. Rosemary might make seizure disorders worse. Do not use it.

Medication Interactions

Rosemary has the potential to alter urination, blood clotting and blood pressure levels, which means it can potentially interact with certain medications and should be avoided in these cases. Speak with your doctor before adding large amounts or rosemary or this essential oil to your diet if you take these drugs:

  • Anticoagulants/blood thinners
  • ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure
  • Diuretics
  • Lithium for mental health disorders

References

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-154/rosemary

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-rosemary

https://draxe.com/nutrition/rosemary-benefits/

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/rosemary.html

https://journals.lww.com/nutritiontodayonline/fulltext/2016/03000/rosemary__an_overview_of_potential_health_benefits.9.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4749867/

https://www.indigo-herbs.co.uk/natural-health-guide/benefits/rosemary

https://organic.org/health-benefits-of-rosemary-oil/

Kelp

Kelp & Seaweed

Kelps are seaweeds that grow in particular shallow and nutrient-rich waters around the world. They’ve been eaten and used medicinally for hundreds of years in various forms, and are processed today, with some by-products commonly used in ice cream, salad dressings and even chocolate milk.

According to nutritionist Vanessa Stasio Costa, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., kelp “is often considered a ‘superfood’ due to its significant mineral content. It’s especially concentrated in iodine, which is important for optimal thyroid function and metabolism.”

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say that seaweed such as kelp is one of the best natural food sources of iodine, an essential component in thyroid hormone production. A deficiency in iodine leads to metabolism disruption and can also lead to an enlargement of the thyroid gland known as goiter.

TYPES OF SEAWEED

Scientists have categorized types of seaweed into different categories based on their pigments, cell structure, and other traits. The groups (or phyta) of seaweed that are commonly consumed include:

  • Green algae such as sea lettuce or ulva, and sea grapes
  • Brown algae such as kombu, arame, kelp, and wakame (the miso soup seaweed)
  • Red algae such as dulse, laver, and nori (the sushi seaweed)
  • Blue-green algae such as spirulina and chlorella

BENEFITS OF SEA KELP & SEAWEED

Anti-ageing: The iodine content of kelp also appears to have other benefits. A 2008 study showed that the form of iodine in kelp effectively removed free radicals – chemicals that accelerate ageing – from human blood cells.

Anti-cancer: Researchers found that kelp can slow the spread of colon and breast cancers. A compound found in kelp called fucoidan may also prevent the spread of lung cancer and prostate cancer. The presence of fucoxanthin was found to be effective against a number of types of prostate cancer. In addition, fucoxanthin can help remove drug resistance in cancer patients undergoing dangerous chemotherapy treatments, thereby reducing the amount of harmful drugs introduced into one’s system in order to treat cancer.

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Anti-inflammatory: Kelp is naturally high in antioxidants, including carotenoids, flavonoids, and alkaloids, which help to fight against disease-causing free radicals. Antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C, and minerals like manganese and zinc, help to combat oxidative stress and may offer benefits to cardiovascular health. Fucoidan, found in kelp, has also been shown to work as an anti-inflammatory and also to improve cholesterol levels in the blood, responsible for heart conditions.

Anti-radiation: Livestrong noted: “Sodium alginate derived from kelp reduced radioactive strontium absorption in the intestines by 50 to 80 percent … (allowing) calcium to be absorbed through the intestinal wall while binding most of the strontium, which is excreted from the body.”

Blood thinner:  Fucoidan has shown effectiveness in preventing blood clots that can lead to dangerous health problems, including stroke and heart attack. It’s so effective, in fact, that researchers cite it as having potential to be used as an oral antithrombotic agent, potentially reducing the need of prescription drugs to treat clotting problems.

Bone Loss: a rich source of vitamin K — you get almost a quarter of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K in just one serving. One of the many benefits of vitamin K is its role in creating denser bones that don’t as easily succumb to arthritis and osteoporosis. However, people on blood-thinning drugs ought to avoid extra vitamin K, as it can affect how the drugs work. Fucoidan also contributes to healthy bones. Low molecular weight fucoidan helps prevent age-related bone loss and improves the mineral density in bones.

Brain health: seaweed provides glutamic acid, known in your body as glutamate, central to the nervous system and most aspects of cognition, memory, learning and normal brain function.

Hair growth: There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting taking sea kelp supplements can boost hair growth. Whether or not it actually boosts growth, it contains nutrients involved in hair health and strength, so it may help reduce split ends and breakages.

Iodine: helps regulate your thyroid gland to produce strong, healthy hair, skin and nails, as well as to form thyroid hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine. It’s also essential for proper formation of your skeletal framework and regulating your body’s energy and brain metabolism in a process regulated by your pituitary gland. The myelination process in the central nervous systems of newborns is another key function of the thyroid hormone. Balanced iodine in the mother’s body is imperative in pregnancy and breastfeeding for optimal development of the baby’s brain cells. Specialists usually recommend around 150 micrograms (mcg) daily. Consuming too much could lead to either hypo- or hyperthyroidism.

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Nutrients in Sea Kelp

Sea kelp is a natural source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E, as well as minerals including zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and calcium. In fact it contains the highest natural concentration of calcium of any food – 10 times more than milk.

Below is the average iodine content of three different dried seaweeds:

  • Nori: 37 mcg per gram (25% of the RDI)
  • Wakame: 139 mcg per gram (93% of the RDI)
  • Kombu: 2523 mcg per gram (1,682% of the RDI)

Generally, 1 tablespoon (7 grams) of dried spirulina can provide:

  • Calories: 20
  • Carbs: 1.7 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 0.5 gram
  • Fiber: 0.3 grams
  • Riboflavin: 15% of the RDI
  • Thiamin: 11% of the RDI
  • Iron: 11% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 7% of the RDI
  • Copper: 21% of the RDI

One serving of raw kelp (about 28 grams) contains about:

  • 12 calories
  • 2.7 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.5 gram protein
  • 0.2 gram fat
  • 0.4 gram fiber
  • 18.5 micrograms vitamin K (23 percent DV)
  • 50.4 micrograms folate (13 percent DV)
  • 33.9 milligrams magnesium (8 percent DV)
  • 47 milligrams calcium (5 percent DV)
  • 0.8 milligram iron (4 percent DV)
  • milligram manganese (3 percent DV)

Benefits of Nutrients in Seaweed

Seaweed also contains small amounts of vitamins A, C, E and K, along with folate, zinc, sodium, calcium and magnesium.

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If you have a family history of diabetes, you should know that kelp is rich in a little-known mineral called vanadium, which is being studied as an important regulator of insulin and blood sugar.

The protein present in some seaweeds, such as spirulina and chlorella, contain all of the essential amino acids. This means seaweed can help ensure you get the full range of amino acids.

Seaweed can also be a good source of omega-3 fats and vitamin B12. In fact, it appears that dried green and purple seaweed contain substantial amounts of vitamin B12. One study found 2.4 mcg or 100% of the RDI of vitamin B12 in only 4 grams of nori seaweed.

Alginic acid in the seaweed kombu is known for its positive effects on diabetes, as well as its ability to coagulate blood. It prevents dental cavities, promotes digestive health, protects against flu, aids digestion, protects vision and maintains heart health.

Seaweed is an excellent source of fiber, which is known to promote gut health. It can make up about 25–75% of seaweed’s dry weight. This is higher than the fiber content of most fruits and vegetables. Fiber can resist digestion and be used as a food source for bacteria in your large intestine instead.

Particular sugars found in seaweed called sulfated polysaccharides have been shown to increase the growth of “good” gut bacteria. These polysaccharides can also increase the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which provide support and nourishment to the cells lining your gut.

The iron in kelp helps form healthy blood and prevent anemia and the antioxidants fight free radicals, altogether ensuring the growth of strong bones and optimal muscle function.

Weight loss

Iodine is a trace mineral vital for the operation of the thyroid gland which plays an important part in body development and metabolism. It combines with tyrosine – an amino acid – to create T3 and T4, thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism and other physiological functions throughout the body. As sea kelp is the richest natural source of iodine it can help to regulate metabolism and in turn affect weight loss and gain.

In recent years, researchers have looked into kelp’s potential fat blocking properties. Because kelp contains a natural fiber called alginate, studies suggest that it may halt the absorption of fat in the gut. A study published in Food Chemistry found that alginate could help block fat absorption in the intestines by 75 percent. In order to reap the benefits of alginate, the research team plans to add the thickening compound to common foods such as yogurt and bread.

Kelp may have great potential for diabetes and obesity, although research is still preliminary. A study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism found that a compound in the chloroplasts of brown seaweed called fucoxanthin may promote weight loss in obese patients when combined with pomegranate oil. Studies also suggest that brown seaweed may influence glycemic control and reduce blood glucose levels, benefitting people with type 2 diabetes.

RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH SEA KELP

Heavy Metals: Sea kelp grown in polluted waters may well absorb toxic heavy metals which if ingested can cause major health problems. The potential for this means it isn’t recommended to be taken if pregnant or breastfeeding, or by children or people with health issues, especially liver or kidney problems. It should be possible however to make sure a particular supplement comes from kelp grown in clean waters.

Iodine: the iodine within sea kelp is easily absorbed by the body so it can quickly become too much for the body to process. Most people get enough iodine from table salt alone, adding kelp to the diet can greatly increase iodine levels. Too much iodine in the system can cause hyperthyroidism, Grave’s disease, and thyroid cancer. The amount of iodine in each type of kelp food product and supplement vary greatly.

According to the Daily Mail: “Deficiencies can be treated with 150 mcg of iodine daily. Prolonged use of large amounts of iodine (6 mg or more daily) may suppress activity of the thyroid gland. A safe upper limit of iodine is 1,000 mcg per day.”

Unpredictability: There are a large number of sea kelp supplements available containing a variety of different types of algae that all come under the name ‘kelp’, which may affect your body in different ways. For instance, bladderwrack can cause or worsen acne, and there is a single reported case of it causing kidney failure. The effects depend completely on your individual health status and your body’s overall make-up.

HOW TO EAT KELP & SEAWEED

Nutritionist Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., C.D.N., C.P.T., recommends that you try to eat your nutrients, versus taking them in supplement form. She suggests including kelp in a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, from both the land and sea. Kelp can be one small part of a broader healthy diet that includes a variety of unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods.

Moskovitz says that one of the easiest ways to incorporate kelp into your diet is to add an organic, dried variety into soups. You could also use raw kelp noodles in salads and main dishes or add some dried kelp flakes as seasoning. It is usually found in Japanese or Korean restaurants or grocery stores and can be enjoyed cold with oil and sesame seeds, hot in a soup or stew, or even blended into a vegetable juice.

You can find kelp at most health-food markets or the Asian section of your regular grocery store. If you don’t eat gluten or are cutting back on carbs, try kelp noodles instead of your regular pasta. They’re raw and work great as a substitute in any regular noodle dish. If you can only find dried kelp, reconstitute it with a little water (this doesn’t take long), then drain it and mix it with thinly sliced cucumbers, a splash of sesame oil and Asian vinegar.

As a food, kelp aficionados laud its flavor as the ultimate, seawater-laced brine that’s the essence of umami. Nori, one of the most popular seaweed species, is dried in sheets to make sushi rolls. Other varieties include dulse, arame, which is black; deep green wakame; kombu; and spirulina.

HOW TO COOK & EAT SEAWEED

Dried seaweed would need to be soaked in hot water, and rinsed well before use. Some thicker and tougher seaweed like kombu might be better sliced thin or boiled. Seaweeds are very versatile. Here are a few different ways to enjoy them:

  • Snacking out of a bag – Nori and dulse can just be eaten out of a bag. You will want to check the labels and watch out for some brands of snacking nori that contain a lot of MSG though.
  • Salads – Most types of seaweed can be made into a Japanese-style salad with vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic.
  • Soups – Seaweed tastes delicious in bone broth, which makes it seaweed soup.
  • Sprinkled on other foods – Seaweed flakes can be sprinkled on salads, rice, soups, or any other dishes.

Most seaweed is not bitter. Some types are a bit sweet and may even have umami flavors, which means that it may be easier to get some picky eaters to eat seaweed than vegetables.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/benefits-of-kelp
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-seaweed
  3. https://draxe.com/kelp/
  4. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/06/20/kelp-seaweed-benefits.aspx
  5. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/why-health-is-kelp-good-for-me
  6. https://wellnessmama.com/130117/seaweed-benefits/