Rosemary for the Win May 17 2018, 0 Comments
Rosemary is one of the most popular culinary herbs, but did you know that rosemary also has some great uses around the barn? A shrub in the mint family, Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean and in Latin, it’s name means “dew of the sea” because of its propensity to grow in dry coastal climates. Rosemary has long been a historical darling, commonly used at major life events such as weddings, used in bouquets to represent love and the memory of who the bride was before getting married, as well as in burial rites, as a powerful symbol of remembrance. Beyond it’s symbolic value, however, Rosemary has also has a long history of medicinal use as an anti-microbial; so much that Europeans in the 14th century would hold and wear the herb as a protectant against the Black Plague. While carrying the plant does nothing medicinally, modern research indicates the plant actually does contain anti-bacterial and microbial compounds.
Plant Parts and Uses
The medicinal properties of Rosemary come from the leaves and flowers. Rosemary is typically administered via essential oil, which is distilled from the leaves and flowers. Rosemary sprigs can also be boiled in hot water for 20-30 minutes to make a basic insect repellant or anti-microbial spray, but will not be as potent as essential oil added to vinegar and water. Rosemary is also an effective anti-inflammatory as it includes salicylic acid- the precursor to aspirin.
Most common uses for horses
Rosemary for equines is most commonly administered as an ingredient in insect repellant, as well as an ingredient in natural anti-viral and anti-fungal salves and sprays. Rosemary is especially effective against mosquitoes. You can add the essential oil to your fly spray to boost its effectiveness or you can boil lemons, water, and several rosemary sprigs to make a light mosquito repellant. Rosemary is safe to feed horses, however, given its pungent smell, it is unlikely that horses will eat it. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory and cleansing coat wash- boil a few handfuls of crushed leaves in water, let cool, and rinse your horse with this rosemary water to soothe his muscles and add an extra shine to his coat.
Rosemary is a hardy plant that is easy to grow indoors, outdoors, and in pots. Rosemary prefers well-drained soil, and full to partial sun. If outside, Rosemary will only withstand above- freezing temperatures. Also be careful not to water it too much - if outside, you can let rainfall water your rosemary and if you water it, make sure the soil is completely dry before you water. You can plant rosemary from a cutting or buy a small plant from the nursery; growing from seed can be difficult.
This is a re-print from the Herb Blurb Column I am writing in Equine Wellness Magazine, one of the largest publications in North America focused on natural and alternative therapies for horses. This is from their Jun/Jul 2018 issue. https://equinewellnessmagazine.com/