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Rosemary Essential Oil
Invigorating. Refreshing. Stimulating. These are the first three words that come to mind when I think of Rosemary Essential Oil. When I was first exploring aromatherapy back in the 1990s, Rosemary Oil took me by surprise. I was expecting it to smell closely to the freshly cut herb, but Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosmarinus officinalis var camphor) smells much more camphorous. As with other oils that contain camphor, Rosemary is helpful in massage and arthritis blends and can help improve circulation. It is useful for respiratory issues and makes a good expectorant/decongestant.
Rosemary has an excellent reputation for oily skin/acne, scalp and hair care, and I have repeatedly read that Rosemary Oil can be helpful with alopecia (hair loss).
Rosemary is quite stimulating and is heralded for help in memory retention and staying focused and alert. Rosemary is a good choice for blends for driving long distances and for long study sessions.
Several important Rosemary chemotypes are worth paying close attention to:
Rosemary Verbenone (Rosmarinus officinalis var verbenoneaka Rosmarinus officinalis ct. verbenone) contains less camphor and is widely regarded as being safer to use within topical applications. The aroma is more herbaceous and is preferred by many.
Rosemary Cineole (Rosmarinus officinalis var cineoleaka Rosmarinus officinalis ct. cineole) is sometimes preferred for use in respiratory and circulatory issues.
Common Method of Extraction
Plant Part Typically Used
Leaves and Flowers/Buds
Strength of Initial Aroma
Medium - Strong
Fresh, herbaceous, sweet, slightly medicinal.
Rosemary Oil Uses
Aching muscles, arthritis, dandruff, dull skin, exhaustion, gout, hair care, muscle cramping, neuralgia, poor circulation, rheumatism. [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 56-67.]
Major Constituents of Camphor Chemotype
[K. Formacek, K.H. Kubeczka. Essential Oils Analysis by Capillary Chromatography and Carbon C-13 NMR Spectroscopy. (New York: John Wiley, 1982). M.H. Boelens. The Essential Oils from Rosmarinus officinalis L. (Perfumer & Flavorist 10, 1985), 21-37. C. Bourrel, G. Vilarem, G. Michel, et al. Etude des priprietes Bacteriostatiques et Fongistatiques en Milieu Solide de 24 Huiles Essentielles Preamblement Analysees. (Rivista Italiana EPPOS 16, 1995), 3-12. J.C. Chalchat, R.P. Garry, A. Michet, et al. Essential Oils of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.). The Chemical Composition of Oils of Various Origins (Morocco, Spain, France). (Journal of Essential Oil Research 5, 1993), 613-618. Sources cited in Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 407-408.]
Major Constituents of Rosemary 1,8-Cineole Chemotype
[J.C. Chalchat, R.P. Garry, A. Michet, et al. Essential Oils of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.). The Chemical Composition of Oils of Various Origins (Morocco, Spain, France). (Journal of Essential Oil Research 5, 1993), 613-618. Private Communication: Badoux, 2003. Sources cited in Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 407-408.]
Major Constituents of Rosemary Verbenone Chemotype
[F.M. Soliman, E.A. E-Kashoury, M.M. Fathy, et al. Analysis and BIological Activity of the Essential Oil of Rosmarinus officinalis L. from Egypt. (Flavour & Fragrances Journal 9, 1994), 29-33. Source cited in Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 407-408.]
Tisserand and Young warn that Rosemary Oil is potentially neurotoxic, depending on the level of camphor present in the oil. They also warn not to use on or near the face of infants and children. They recommend dermal maximum s of 16.5% for Rosemary Camphor and 6.5% for Rosemary Verbenone. Reading Tisserand and Young's full profile is recommended. [Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 407-409.]
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The essential oil information provided on AromaWeb is intended for educational purposes only. This data is not considered complete and is not guaranteed to be accurate. The oil photos are intended to represent the typical and approximate color of each essential oil. However, oil color can vary based on harvesting, distillation and other factors. Profiles for several absolutes are included within the directory, and are denoted as such.
General Safety Information
Do not take any oils internally and do not apply undiluted essential oils, absolutes, CO2s or other concentrated essences onto the skin without advanced essential oil knowledge or consultation from a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. If you are pregnant, epileptic, have liver damage, have cancer, or have any other medical problem, use oils only under the proper guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. Use extreme caution when using oils with children. It is safest to consult a qualified aromatherapy practitioner before using oils with children. For in-depth information on oil safety issues, read Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young.
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