Kitchen Herbs: Rosemary

Rosemary is one of the most useful culinary herbs for strengthening Yang. It stimulates the circulation and warms the extremeties. If you are normally cold, with cold hands and feet, rosemary is an ideal herb to use on a regular basis. It is also used to promote clear-thinking and relieving absent mindedness and poor-memory, and is used against depression.

Rosemary also clears Dampness and Phlegm, and can be used for catarrh, heaviness of the body and a cloudy or fuzzy head, when these symptoms are accompanied by feeling cold.

As if these weren’t benefits enough, rosemary is also a strengthening Qi tonic. It increases the vital energy of the body in all areas, and can be used for low libido and impotence, weak limbs, fatigue, lower back ache and poor appetite. It also benefits the Heart.

In Western Herbalism it is considered a nervine, or nerve tonic.

The renaissance writer Wilhelm Ryff says of it “the spirits of the heart and the entire body feel joy from this drink, which dispels all despondency and worry”

And the early Welsh herbalists known as the physicians of Myddfai, wrote this about Rosemary in the 12th Centry:

“Rosemary is warm and dry in the third degree, … gather the leaves of the rosemary, pound them small, strain, and drink the juice, it will remove all phlegm from the head and lungs, curing it with all certainty…. also, a decodction thereof is helpful to an insane person, or one threatened with delerium…. it will also cure impotence in either sex, if used with food. When a couple are childless, let the wife, if young, use rosemary”

Rosemary is a classic accompaniment to Lamb (also a Yang tonic.) It can be used to add flavour to roasted vegetables, added to soups, stews and casseroles, and makes a good flavoured oil. It is also used with orange in deserts. You can also make rosemary tea by infusing the fresh herb in boiling water.

Rosemary is an attractive evergreen garden plant, much loved by bees, and is extremely easy to grow.