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Pharmacology of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.) and its therapeutic potentials.

Review article
al-Sereiti MR, et al. Indian J Exp Biol. 1999.

Abstract

The use of plants is as old as the mankind. Natural products are cheap and claimed to be safe. They are also suitable raw material for production of new synthetic agents. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Linn.) is a common household plant grown in many parts of the world. It is used for flavouring food, a beverage drink, as well as in cosmetics; in folk.medicine it is used as an antispasmodic in renal colic and dysmenorrhoea, in relieving respiratory disorders and to stimulate growth of hair. Extract of rosemary relaxes smooth muscles of trachea and intestine, and has choleretic, hepatoprotective and antitumerogenic activity. The most important constituents of rosemary are caffeic acid and its derivatives such as rosmarinic acid. These compounds have antioxidant effect. The phenolic compound, rosmarinic acid, obtains one of its phenolic rings from phenylalanine via caffeic acid and the other from tyrosine via dihydroxyphenyl-lactic acid. Relatively large-scale production of rosmarinic acid can be obtained from the cell culture of Coleus blumei Benth when supplied exogenously with phenylalanine and tyrosine. Rosmarinic acid is well absorbed from gastrointestinal tract and from the skin. It increases the production of prostaglandin E2 and reduces the production of leukotriene B4 in human polymorphonuclear leucocytes, and inhibits the complement system. It is concluded that rosemary and its constituents especially caffeic acid derivatives such as rosmarinic acid have a therapeutic potential in treatment or prevention of bronchial asthma, spasmogenic disorders, peptic ulcer, inflammatory diseases, hepatotoxicity, atherosclerosis, ischaemic heart disease, cataract, cancer and poor sperm motility.

PMID

10641130 [Indexed for MEDLINE]