What is rosemary extract?
The extract is from rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.), a common household plant that has grown in the Alps since the Middle Ages, and is now found throughout the world. According to folklore, rosemary takes its name from the Virgin Mary, who draped her cloak on a rosemary bush, and then placed a white flower on top of the cloak. The flower turned blue overnight, and the plant became known as the “Rose of Mary.”
Rosemary has been used for thousands of years as a savory spice, food preservative, in cosmetics and hair products, and as an herbal medicine for a variety of health disorders. Until now however, the exact chemical pathways involved in its beneficial effects have remained unknown.
There are hundreds of research papers and studies on the extensive antioxidant capabilities of rosemary. Before retiring from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, botanist Dr. James Duke established the landmark Phytochemical Database that lists all the known chemical compounds in more than 1,000 edible plants, including the most common herbs and spices. According to Duke, rosemary contains more than two dozen antioxidants, and it is the only compound in his database (CRC Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals, 1992) to have immune regulating, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities.
Although rosemary extract has been used commercially as an antimicrobial food preservative for years, now we know for certain that it also has a lot to offer as a nutritional supplement, 1 especially in the prevention of some types of cancer, allergies, and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.2
Why take rosemary extract?
There are lots of excellent antioxidants that combat free radical damage. However, rosemary extract contains more than two dozen antioxidants, and provides potent protection against chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, one of the most dreaded diseases of today.
- Provides powerful antioxidant protection
- Protects brain cells from the normal effects of aging
- May slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
- Protects cells from carcinogens
- Inhibits growth of cancer cells
- Helps reduce allergy symptoms, especially to dust mites
- Increases potency of vitamin E
- Helps reduce hypertension
What makes rosemary extract so special?
Antioxidants have been proven to deactivate free radicals, but not all antioxidants are equal. In most cases, once an antioxidant has neutralized a free radical it is no longer useful as an antioxidant because it becomes an inert compound. Or even worse, it becomes a free radical itself.
That’s where rosemary extract is significantly different. It has a longer life span of antioxidant activity. Not only that, it contains more than two dozen antioxidants, including carnosic acid, one of the only antioxidants that deactivates free radicals through a multilevel cascade approach.
In vitro studies have shown that as carnosic acid attacks free radicals it is transformed into at least four other antioxidant compounds, each with the ability to neutralize additional free radicals. Most antioxidants do not have this same capacity. Instead, they neutralize a free radical and are transformed into an inert compound, or even worse, they become free radicals themselves.
When rosemary extract is combined with other antioxidants its potency increases. For instance, vitamin E must be re-cycled after quenching a free radical before it can quench another. But when it is combined with rosemary extract, the carnosic acid, which starts the cascade effect, rejuvenates vitamin E back to its original state, so it can attack additional free radicals. 1 3
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