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March 13, 2013 by JOHN SUMMERLY
Rosemary Reduces Blood Sugar Spikes and May Help Reduce Body Weight By Over 60 Percent

Rosemary is a perennial herb containing 19 chemicals with antibacterial action and a number of other medicinal uses. The plant is well known for improving memory. Scientists have now unlocked the mechanism behind rosemary's ability to reduce blood sugar spikes and reduce body weight.

Rosemary has a very old reputation for improving memory and has been used as a symbol for remembrance during weddings, war commemorations and funerals in Europe and Australia.

It contains a number of potentially biologically active compounds, including antioxidants carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid. Rosemary antioxidants levels are closely related to soil moisture content.

The volatile oils in rosemary also help reduce inflammation that contributes to liver and heart disease. Herbalists think that rosemary may also help ease breast pain by acting as a natural drying agent to fluid filled cysts.

Animal data has indicated that rosemary may lower blood glucose, cholesterol levels and aid weight management, with mouse studies indicating that supplementing a high fat diet with rosemary may reduce body weight by over 60%, compared to animals fed only the high fat diet.

However, the actual mechanism of action has not been elucidated, explained the authors, led by Zheng Tu from the company's Technical Innovation Center in Maryland.

According to new data published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry , extracts from rosemary may activate energy sensing molecules in cells, which then activate pathways to break down lipids and carbohydrates to release energy.

"Current studies and previous publications confirmed the roles of rosemary in lipid and carbohydrate metabolisms and pointed out that rosemary may serve as a potential hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic agent," wrote the authors.

Important Facts About Rosemary

Some other important health benefits for rosemary are:

  • Due to its antioxidants, rosemary can help prevent cataracts.
  • The natural acids present in rosemary help in protecting the body's cells and DNA from free radical damage.
  • Rosemary stimulates liver enzymes, which help inactivate estrogen hormones which can cause breast cancer.
  • Rosemary extract helps prevent age-related skin damage such as wrinkles.
  • Rosemary encourages enzymes, which flush harmful toxins out of the liver and the body.
  • When consumed on a daily basis, rosemary extract can improve kidney functions, increase urine flow and preserve essential minerals such as sodium, and potassium.
  • Rosemary oil is used to stimulate hair growth, boost mental activity, relieve respiratory problems and pain, and reduce disorders in menstrual cycle, menstrual cramps, peptic ulcers, urine flow, prostate, gall bladder, intestine, sperm mobility, leukemia and kidney stones.

Study Details

Tu and co-workers investigated the effects of different concentrations of rosemary extract on the metabolism of HepG2 cells.

Results showed that rosemary extract at concentrations of 2, 10, and 50 micrograms/mL significantly increased glucose consumption by 6%, 13%, and 21%, respectively. The results were compared to anti-diabetic drug Metformin, which dramatically increased glucose consumption by 22% at a concentration of 5 mM.

"It has been reported that metformin increases insulin sensitivity, enhances peripheral glucose uptake, and increases fatty acid oxidation," they explained.

"Our results showed there are some overlaps between rosemary and metformin in terms of pathways activated in liver cells, namely, AMPK, SIRT1, and PPARs."

"In summary, treatment with rosemary extracts could activate energy sensing molecules, including AMPK and SIRT1, which in turn induce catabolic pathways such as fatty acid oxidation and glycolysis and inhibit anabolic pathways such as fatty acid and glycogen synthesis and gluconeogenesis."

Antioxidants have been proven to deactivate free radicals, but not all antioxidants are equal. In most cases, once an antioxidant has neutralized a free radical it is no longer useful as an antioxidant because it becomes an inert compound.

That’s where a rosemary extract is significantly different. It has a longer life span of antioxidant activity. Not only that, it contains more than two dozen antioxidants, including carnosic acid, one of the only antioxidants that deactivates free radicals through a multilevel cascade approach.

Culinary Use

The leaves, both fresh and dried, are used in traditional Mediterranean cuisine. They have a bitter, astringent taste and are highly aromatic, which complements a wide variety of foods.

Rosemary is high in iron, calcium and vitamin B6, 317 mg, 6.65 mg and 0.336 mg per 100 g, respectively. Rosemary extract has been shown to improve the shelf life and heat stability of omega 3-rich oils, which are prone to rancidity.

Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry

John Summerly is nutritionist, herbologist, and homeopathic practitioner. He is a leader in the natural health community and consults athletes, executives and most of all parents of children on the benefits of complementary therapies for health and prevention.

Reference Sources 184, 226, 255
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