The LORE and LURE of Rosemary

The LORE and LURE of Rosemary

(Originally posted July 2022)      

"There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember."   

-William Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act IV, scene 5)

Did you know that rosemary belongs to the mint family, along with lavender, thyme, basil, and sage? Commonly used as a culinary herb, rosemary is a native of the Mediterranean region where it grows close to coastlines. The scientific genus name (Rosmarinus) comes from the Latin words for “dew” (ros) and “belonging to the sea” (marinus). A woody evergreen, rosemary is widely associated with enhancing memory and recall.

There’s also an interesting bit of LORE to go along with the name. The legend goes that as they fled Herod’s soldiers, the Holy Family rested near a rosemary bush. When the Virgin Mary threw her blue cape over the bush to dry, the white flowers turned to blue, hence the blue flowers of the rosemary bush and the name “rose of Mary.”   

Rosemary has been used since ancient times by Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for blessings at weddings and in religious ceremonies for births and deaths. (Perhaps that’s why Shakespeare’s Ophelia speaks the lines in the quote at the top - foreshadowing?) In Greek mythology, rosemary is often associated with the goddess Aphrodite, as it is said she was draped in it while being birthed from the sea. Because of its association with enhancing memory, rosemary was used by Greek scholars while taking exams.

During the Renaissance, Paracelsus (real name Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim), a German-Swiss physician and botanist who pioneered the use of chemicals in medicine, admired rosemary because he believed it strengthened the whole body. Side note: Paracelsus was quite the interesting guy so I thought I'd include the cool image below. It's an oil painting from 1526 by Ernest Board titled, Paracelsus burning the books of the Fathers of Medicine. (He kept trying to convince those in the medical profession of the importance of chemistry. He apparently "yelled his message at them and became more and more bitter and aggressive" and is known as the Martin Luther of medicine.)

In traditional Chinese medicine, rosemary is believed to raise the Spleen Qi (also called Chi). When Spleen Qi is deficient, pure Qi cannot be sent upward. Additionally, Spleen Qi deficiency results in heaviness, mental fatigue, and worry. Rosemary is thought to help alleviate these conditions by strengthening the spleen. With a strong spleen, our ability to concentrate and focus is strong.  

Generally, the LORE of rosemary contends that it:  

  • stimulates memory
  • clears the mind
  • purifies
  • refreshes
  • restores
  • invigorates

REMEMBER! Leaf and Lore currently offers three great products with rosemary, ENLIGHTENING, CALMING, and CLEARING. See links below. 




CALMING Essential Oil Blend

CLEARING Essential Oil Blend


Special thanks to Jodi James who wrote part of this entry. 


Borzelleca, Joseph F. “Paracelsus: Herald of Modern Toxicology | Toxicological Sciences | Oxford Academic.” OUP Academic., January 1, 2000.

Gian, Marc J., Holistic Aromatherapy: Practical Self-Healing with Essential Oils ( London: CICO Books, 2017)

Perry, Leonard. “ROSEMARY: AN HISTORIC AND USEFUL HERB.” Rosemary, an historic and useful herb. Accessed June 30, 2022.

Ratan, Ravi,  Essential Oils (Summer Hill, NSW Australia: Rockpool, 2021)

Young, Kac, The Healing Art of Essential Oils (Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2017)

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