Rosmarinus officinalis camphoriferum
Applied to the skin or through massage
Inhalation or Diffusion: inappropriate and prohibited
Camphor rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis camphoriferum) is a shrub of the Lamiaceae family native to the Mediterranean area. It is one of the "herbes de Provence".
Its stem, that can reach two metres in length, is covered with a greyish bark and divides into opposing branches. Its persistent leaves are longer than they are wide, with slightly rolled edges. Its blue tending towards purple flower spikes blossom from January to May. Rosemary prefers sun-drenched garrigues and scrubland. Rosemary was cultivated as far as three thousand years ago between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, for its medicinal virtues. In Rome, Vespasian mentioned it in his fiscal list of flavourings. It was placed on graves to ensure immortality and, in Ovid's Metamorphoses, it arose from the blood of a princess killed by her father to punish her for having given in to Apollo's advances. The Middle Ages could not forego a good legend: rosemary flowers were white but, just before giving birth to Jesus, Mary laid her blue cape on them, giving them their blue colour. The plant's benefits are numerous, though one predominates. The famous "Queen of Hungary's water" was made from rosemary flowers. According to legend, this 19th century sovereign, who could not get over being, and more importantly, looking seventy two years of age, regained a fresh and young appearance, along with a suitor.
Cultivation and production
Rosemary grows wild on the Mediterranean coast; it is one of the most extensively cultivated plants in France. In Corsica, where it is abundant (hence its designation Corsican blue), its intense blue flowers and multiple virtues have led to its being nicknamed a man di Diu (the hand of God). It is also produced in Tunisia, Morocco, Italy and Spain.
The scent of rosemary is fine, spicy and fresh.
Extraction and yield
The steam distillation of the flowering tops of rosemary gives a yield of 0.4%, i.e. four hundred grams from one hundred kilograms of plant.
Rosemary possesses multiple chemotypes, depending on where it is cultivated. All contain camphor, but in different proportions: rosemary camphor contains 20% on average, rosemary 1,8-cineol/eucalyptol contains approximately 10% and rosemary verbenone contains between 3 and 8%. These different chemotypes give the plant different properties that must not be confused. The main active constituents of essential oil of rosemary are the same for the different chemotypes, though in varying proportions: monoterpenes (alpha-pinenes, beta-pinenes, camphene), sesquiterpenes, terpene oxides (1,8-cineol) and monoterpenones (camphor).
Essential oil of rosemary camphor is a potent stimulant and gives tone to a tired body. It relieves "heavy legs" and attenuates cellulite. it facilitates digestion and relieves aches, cramps and muscle pain.
Excerpts from the book « Aromatherapia – Tout sur les huiles essentielles », by Isabelle Pacchioni. Aroma Thera Editions.