The herb rosemary has played a major culinary role in Mediterranean cultures and at least a modest medicinal role among early Greek physicians and writers. Both used and recommended rosemary for its memory and stimulating properties, as well as for blood purification and detoxification. While these early uses of the herb Rosmarinus officinalis could be looked at as folk medicine or interesting anecdotal stories, research within the last several years alone has produced over 40 peer-reviewed papers that have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in mammalian models with the consumption of rosemary or one of its primary phytonutrients.
Molecules with a unique ability to suppress inflammation by inhibiting cyclooxygenase enzymes series II (COXII) activity and/or nuclear factor kappa B expression, now hold promise for adjunct treatments or prevention of rheumatoid conditions, asthma, and cancer. The terpenes carnosol and carnosic acid have also been shown to improve cellular detoxification efforts by improving superoxide dismutase activity. Additionally, these oil-based nutrients inhibit acne due to bacterial-derived inflammation and heart disease by preventing oxidation and mobilization of cholesterol through the artery lining.
Overall, there is an amazing amount of evidence for increasing the role of this herb in our diet. While it is versatile, and can be used in anything from salad dressings to soups, excessive cooking can drive off the volatile aromatics quickly so light simmering and adding to a stew are better for preserving the medicinal qualities as opposed to roasting, boiling, or frying with rosemary for extended periods of time.