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Rosemary Extract: Cancer Fighter, Brain Protector, and More!

Protects and supports brain function

Rosemary has been used for thousands of years as a memory enhancer, and now scientists are proving its cognition-enhancing properties. In fact, many are saying that given the side effects and ineffectiveness of pharmaceutical dementia treatments, rosemary extract may well provide a natural, effective, and well-tolerated treatment for dementia. 4

New research points to the fact that carnosic acid protects the brain, without the side effects that accompany many of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat neurodegenerative disease.

Two new studies led by Stewart Lipton, MD, PhD, from the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, California, and Takumi Satoh, MD, PhD, from Iwate University, in Japan, show that carnosic acid activates a signaling pathway that protects brain cells from free radical damage seen in stroke and other conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.5 6

Other studies indicate that rosmarinic acid—another antioxidant found in rosemary—which is also antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory, protects brain cells from beta-amyloid toxicity. Beta amyloid plaque is produced when a brain protein known as amyloid precursor protein, or APP, is chopped into pieces by enzymes. This causes brain neurons to degenerate and die and most researchers consider it to be the culprit in Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at the Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan, examined the protective effects of rosmarinic acid on laboratory animals with cognitive dysfunction resulting from amyloid beta protein. After several doses of rosemary extract, the animals exhibited a higher level of performance on memory tests, including a maze run and object recognition. The researchers concluded that daily intake of rosemary extract may protect against the memory impairment that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease. 7

Anxiety and stress are two of the symptoms that can accompany dementia. Consequently, a study showing that rosemary extract produces a calming effect on the mind while supporting short and long-term memory is also significant, and is an added bonus for anybody. 8


Whether you have seasonal allergies or you sneeze your head off from the microscopic dust mites in your house, you know the misery of trying to breathe with a stuffy, runny nose or tight bronchial tubes. Rosemary extract’s anti-inflammatory properties reduce allergic reaction, including asthma.

In a 21-day randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan, patients with seasonal allergies took a supplement with rosemary extract or a placebo. Those taking the rosemary extract experienced a significant decrease in overall symptoms, including runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes, when compared to the placebo group. In addition, the treatment significantly decreased the numbers of neutrophils and eosinophils (white blood cells that protect against invading organisms) in nasal mucous. 9

Studies done on laboratory animals have also shown that rosemary extract decreases the inflammation that accompanies the allergic reaction resulting from exposure to dust mites, 10 as well as asthma, leading researchers to conclude that rosemary extract may be beneficial to asthmatic patients.11

Cancer preventative

Although no human studies have been done, a number of in vivo and in vitro studies have demonstrated that rosemary extract prevents cancer cells from growing. 12 13 A recent study on human cancer cell lines at the University of British Columbia, Canada, found that rosemary’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties inhibit the growth of human leukemia and breast cancer cells. 14

A study at Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel, also looked at the effect that rosemary extract has on human leukemia cells. The researchers concluded that it inhibits the cells from growing and that it can be used with other natural anticancer compounds to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. 15

The antioxidants in rosemary have also been found to be chemopreventative (able to prevent the development of cancer) in human liver and bronchial cells. 16


High blood pressure is usually a result of a combination of stress, high cholesterol, inflammation and sticky blood platelets. Chronic stress causes a constriction of blood vessels and the formation of sticky blood platelets, which can result in a blood clot. When blood vessels are constricted there is less room for blood to flow, and plaque may further constrict the blood vessel. If blood platelets stick together and form a clot, the vessel may be completely clogged and surrounding tissue is deprived of oxygen and nutrients. This leads to heart attack and stroke.

Rosemary extract is one possible remedy for reducing risk of hypertension. A survey of traditional treatments of hypertension and diabetes in Morocco found that rosemary is a popular herbal treatment.17

Scientific studies have also shown that the antioxidants in rosemary inhibit the oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol) 18 and platelets from sticking together, 19 both big factors in cardiovascular disease.


Time and time again natural solutions to what ails humans are being “rediscovered” by modern science. Synthetic drugs are increasingly being shown to do more harm than good, and more and more people are turning “back to nature” to find treatments and remedies that are time-tested, effective and side-effect free.

So whether you are looking for a safe, natural remedy to help you get through the allergy season, help prevent some of the most dreaded diseases of our time, or protect your memory and stave off brain aging, rosemary extract may be just what you’ve been looking for.

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Editor's Note:

The natural health solutions described in these article are available through many on-line retailers including those listed below. By clicking these links you help support the important alternative health research we provide.

Visit NutriStand – The Nutrition Newsstand from the Supplement Man for Science-Based Nutritional Supplements!

Visit International Antiaging-Systems for hard to find therapies. They specialize in Tomorrow's Treatments Today™.

Visit – a great way to find competitive deals on supplements offered by many different manufacturers.

Visit VitaE8 - The Ultimate Vitamin E – to learn more about the importance of full-spectrum vitamin E supplements.

These articles are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a physician before embarking on a dietary supplement program.


  1. Moreno S, Scheyer T, Romano CS, Vojnov AA Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of rosemary extracts linked to their polyphenol composition . Free Radic Res. 2006 Feb;40(2):223-31.

  2. al-Sereiti MR, Abu-Amer KM, Sen P. Pharmacology of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.) and its therapeutic potentials. Indian J Exp Biol. 1999 Feb;37(2):124-30.

  3. Masuda T, Inaba Y, Takeda Y Antioxidant mechanism of carnosic acid: structural identification of two oxidation products. J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Nov;49(11):5560-5.

  4. Kennedy DO, Scholey AB. The psychopharmacology of European herbs with cognition-enhancing properties. Curr Pharm Des. 2006;12(35):4613-23.

  5. Lipton SA. Pathologically activated therapeutics for neuroprotection. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2007 Oct;8(10):803-8.

  6. Satoh T, Kosaka K, Itoh K, Kobayashi A, Yamamoto M, Shimojo Y, Kitajima C, Cui J, Kamins J, Okamoto S, Izumi M, Shirasawa T, Lipton SA. Carnosic acid, a catechol-type electrophilic compound, protects neurons both in vitro and in vivo through activation of the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway via S-alkylation of targeted cysteines on Keap1. J Neurochem. 2008 Feb;104(4):1116-31. Epub 2007 Nov 6.

  7. Alkam T, Nitta A, Mizoguchi H, Itoh A, Nabeshima T. A natural scavenger of peroxynitrites, rosmarinic acid, protects against impairment of memory induced by Abeta (25-35). Behav Brain Res. 2007 Jun 18;180(2):139-45. Epub 2007 Mar 1.

  8. Pereira P, Tysca D, Oliveira P, da Silva Brum LF, Picada JN, Ardenghi P. Neurobehavioral and genotoxic aspects of rosmarinic acid. Pharmacol Res. 2005 Sept; 52(3):199-203.

  9. Takano H, Osakabe N, Sanbongi C, Yanagisawa R, Inoue K, Yasuda A, Natsume M, Baba S, Ichiishi E, Yoshikawa T. Extract of Perilla frutescens enriched for rosmarinic acid, a polyphenolic phytochemical, inhibits seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in humans. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2004 Mar;229(3):247-54.

  10. Inoue K, Takano H, Shiga A, Fujita Y, Makino H, Yanagisawa R, Ichinose T, Kato Y, Yamada T, Yoshikawa T. Effects of volatile constituents of a rosemary extract on allergic airway inflammation related to house dust mite allergen in mice. Int J Mol Med. 2005 Aug;16(2):315-9.

  11. Sanbongi C, Takano H, Osakabe N, Sasa N, Natsume M, Yanagisawa R, Inoue KI, Sadakane K, Ichinose T, Yoshikawa T.Rosmarinic acid in perilla extract inhibits allergic inflammation induced by mite allergen, in a mouse model. Clin Exp Allergy. 2004 Jun;34(6):971-7.

  12. Lo AH, Liang YC, Lin-Shiau SY, Ho CT, Lin JK. Carnosol, an antioxidant in rosemary, suppresses inducible nitric oxide synthase through down-regulating nuclear factor-kappaB in mouse macrophages. Carcinogenesis. 2002 Jun;23(6):983-91.

  13. Singletary K, MacDonald C, Wallig M. Inhibition by rosemary and carnosol of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced rat mammary tumorigenesis and in vivo DMBA-DNA adduct formation. Cancer Lett. 1996 Jun 24;104(1):43-8.

  14. Cheung S, Tai J Anti-proliferative and antioxidant properties of rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Oncol Rep. 2007 Jun;17(6):1525-3.

  15. Steiner M, Priel I, Giat J, Levy J, Sharoni Y, Danilenko M.Carnosic acid inhibits proliferation and augments differentiation of human leukemic cells induced by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and retinoic acid. Nutr Cancer. 2001;41(1-2):135-44.

  16. Offord EA, Macé K, Avanti O, Pfeifer AM. Mechanisms involved in the chemoprotective effects of rosemary extract studied in human liver and bronchial cells. Cancer Lett. 1997 Mar 19;114(1-2):275-8.

  17. Tahraoui A, El-Hilaly J, Israili ZH, Lyoussi B. Ethnopharmacological survey of plants used in the traditional treatment of hypertension and diabetes in south-eastern Morocco (Errachidia province). J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Mar 1;110(1):105-17. Epub 2006 Sep 23.

  18. Zeng HH, Tu PF, Zhou K, Wang H, Wang BH, Lu JF.Antioxidant properties of phenolic diterpenes from Rosmarinus officinalis. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2001 Dec;22(12):1094-8.

  19. Lee JJ, Jin YR, Lee JH, Yu JY, Han XH, Oh KW, Hong JT, Kim TJ, Yun YP. Antiplatelet activity of carnosic acid, a phenolic diterpene from Rosmarinus officinalis. Planta Med. 2007 Feb;73(2):121-7.


Is eating the herb Rosemary just as effictive as the extract?

Could you please tell where can I buy this Rosemary Extract?

Even though I was using various cosmetic items and food stuffs, I had no idea on what the Rosemary extract was. It was a very useful read that you had posted here. Good work. This read can help in my studies too as I am preparing a report on natural extracts that are useful to human life.
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Good day

I have read several articles about Dr James Duke - and what a master!!

I want to use Rosemary as a preservative in food that I bottle - because the preservatives that they currently use is so harmfull.

Do you have any articles about that maybe?  Or could there be tests done by Dr Duke about this?

I would really love for you to get back to me?  I tried to google Dr Duke and maybe find him on FB or so - but I was not successful - I wanted to ask him myself?

Kindest regards and thank you for an amazing site!

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