What is Rosmarinic Acid?
Rosmarinic acid is a compound found in spices such as rosemary and oregano, and other plants.(1) There are studies that show the effectiveness of rosmarinic acid as a powerful antioxidant. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. If taken in concentrated doses, it can be effective in treating certain health conditions.(2) It also acts as a defense compound against pests and infections.(4) Research also shows that it may have antiviral, antibacterial, pain-relieving, and anti-cancer effects.(5, 6)
Rosmarinic acid is known to be first isolated from rosemary in 1958 and was named after it.(3)
In the past, plants that are high in rosmarinic acid have been used in the treatment of various ailments such as pain, spasm and headaches. Rosmarinic acid along with the other plant compounds can be responsible for the therapeutic properties.
5 Amazing Health Benefits of Rosmarinic Acid
There are several health benefits linked to rosmarinic acid. Most of the studies proving these benefits are done on animals and test tubes. Research on humans is needed.
Has Anti-inflammatory Effects
As it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, rosmarinic acid can be effective in treating conditions such as asthma, atopic dermatitis and arthritis.(1)
A study was conducted on 44 people with asthma. It was seen that those who received a daily dose of rosemary extract had a significant improvement in asthmatic activity which include wheezing, cough, and excessive sputum production.(7) However, rosemary extract also contains other compounds along with rosmarinic acid. They might also be playing role in benefitting in the above symptoms.
A study was performed on people with knee osteoarthritis for 16 weeks. A significant decrease in pain was observed after drinking 2 cups of spearmint tea that is rich in rosmarinic acid. It also improved walking ability. A few participants were given control tea with regular strength mint. They observed a decrease in stiffness but the pain did not reduce. High rosmarinic acid tea contains 130-150 mg of rosmarinic acid while control tea contained 13 mg per cup.(8)
Another study found that the application of rosmarinic acid emulsion on skin improved dryness, itchy skin, and general skin condition in the participants.(9)
The anti-inflammatory properties of rosmarinic acid are able to reduce both local and system-wide inflammation.
Has Antioxidant Effects
Rosmarinic acid has antioxidant effects and can be beneficial in various ways. Antioxidants inhibit cellular damage by neutralizing free radicles and protecting against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is linked with numerous health conditions.(10)
Various animal and test-tube studies have shown the antioxidant effect of rosmarinic acid. It increases the level of antioxidant enzymes and reduces the markers of oxidative stress.(11, 12, 13)
Rosmarinic acid is also used by manufacturers in food products as it helps in reducing spoilage and increasing shelf life.(14)
Benefits Brain Health
Rosmarinic acid may help protect against cognitive decline. It may also be effective in depression and benefit learning and memory.(15, 16)
Protect Against Allergies
A study was done in 2004 by giving plant extract rich in rosmarinic acid to people with allergies for 21 days. It was found that there was a reduction in symptoms including an itchy nose, watery and itchy eyes.(17)
Have Anticancer Effects
Test-tube and animal studies have found rosmarinic acid to have anti-cancer effects. However, there is no evidence of its effectiveness in treating cancer.(18, 19)
Side Effects of Rosmarinic Acid
There are not many side effects linked with the use of rosmarinic acid. People who consumed spearmint tea containing 130-150 mg of rosmarinic acid reported symptoms such as headache, constipation and diarrhea. Another study in which the participants were given rosemary extract experienced skin rashes and abdominal pain.
Many supplements containing rosmarinic acid may interact with medication and show other side effects.
Due to the above-mentioned side effects, it is important to consult a doctor before starting any supplement, more important if taking medication for chronic conditions. Rosmarinic acid has numerous therapeutic properties and one can increase its consumption by increasing the rosmarinic-acid-rich herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, and spearmint.