Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a common plant and herb that is popular in folk medicine for treating spasms and pain in painful menstruation and renal colic, and in relieving respiratory disorders. The most important constituents of rosemary (carnosol, carnosic acid, caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid) have powerful antioxidant properties. In particular, rosmarinic acid is well absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and the skin and is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. Carnosol also has the ability to relax smooth muscles of the intestinal tract and the trachea, and to protect the liver. Some people take rosemary to increase urinary flow.
There is also some suggestion that rosemary may be helpful fighting some forms of cancer. A study from 2001 showed that carnosol demonstrated anti-cancer activity against certain leukemias. (Cancer Letter 2001) Other research indicates that rosemary may be helpful in inhibiting the development of both breast and skin tumors in animals, and possibly in human breast cancer cells. (Scheckel 2008) No research has surfaced concerning prostate cancer, however.
Rosemary is often consumed as a tea: use 6 grams steeped in 2 cups of boiling water, then divided into 3 servings to take throughout the day. (University of Maryland)
Carnosol-induced apoptosis and downregulation of Bcl-2 in B-lineage leukemia cells. Cancer Lett 2001 Sep 10; 170(1): 33-39
Scheckel KA et al. Rosmarinic acid antagonizes activator protein-1-dependent activation of cyclooxygenase-2 expression in human cancer and nonmalignant cell lines. J Nutr 2008 Nov; 138(11): 2098-105.
University of Maryland Medical Center: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/rosemary-000271.htm