By: Michelle Schoffro Cook May 19, 2016 Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook
Few people give their heart and vascular system much consideration until something goes wrong. But the circulatory system, which comprises the heart, lungs, arteries and veins, keeps hormones, nutrients, oxygen and other gases flowing throughout the body.
Essentially, it is the delivery system for the body, without which we could not live. However, with our modern high stress lifestyle with its stresses, fast food and insufficient activity, we can become prone to the leading cause of death—heart disease.
When we think of natural solutions for the condition, we probably think of a plant-based diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids and low in trans fats, saturated fats and Omega 6 fatty acids, not to mention exercise. And, we’d certainly be right in doing so since all of these lifestyle improvements can help prevent or reverse heart disease.
But exciting research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that adding the herb rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) to your diet can also help treat heart disease. The researchers found that compounds naturally found in rosemary have significant anti-inflammatory effects, which is an underlying factor in the condition.
A growing body of research links heart disease to low-grade inflammation throughout the blood vessels. Our dietary choices of trans fats and other harmful fats, excessive sugar consumption and other inflammation-causing substances can inflame the blood vessels. I tend to think of the inflammation underlying heart disease as scouring the inner walls of the blood vessels, which then need repair with substances like cholesterol, which is the body’s natural substance for arterial repair.
While rosemary has been traditionally used throughout history in the treatment of headaches, memory and epilepsy, the research shows that it also holds promise as a natural medicine for the treatment of heart disease. The study concluded that rosemary has the potential to be developed into a natural heart disease medication or functional food.
How to Use Rosemary
The easiest way to benefit from rosemary’s circulation-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties is to add it to your food. It is a flavorful addition to soups, stews, vegetable or poultry dishes. I add rosemary along with vegetables like onions, carrots, celery and other vegetable scraps and water to make a delicious stock that can be used to make soups, gravy, sauces or to cook rice, quinoa, or other grain. Rosemary is also a welcome addition to tomato sauces or other tomato-based dishes.
How to Make Rosemary Tea
Add two teaspoons of dried, organic rosemary needles or a 4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary to boiled water and let steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain and drink to reap the health and healing rewards of rosemary.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 19-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking (New World Library, 2016).