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Supplement Perspectives

Rosemary Helps Increase Sugar Metabolism

Rosmarinus officinalis is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant evergreen needles and white, pink, purple or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. However, you probably know it as rosemary. It adds a distinct flavor to meats and stews, and it can also be infused into oils.

Rosemary derives its name from the Latin words for dew of the sea because in many locations, it needs no water to grow other than the humidity carried by the sea breeze. The plant is also sometimes called anthos, from the ancient Greek word which means flower.

Its a member of the mint family, which includes many other medicinal herbs. These minty herbs have been used for thousands of years in digestive elixirs for everything from upset stomachs to bleeding ulcers.Besides digestive support, rosemary is believed to improve memory and reduce oxidative stress. And now, current research is showing that it may help treat diabetes as well.

Rosemary Activates Metabolic Pathways Many years of collecting animal data have shown that rosemary could play a role in helping to reduce blood sugar levels and initiate weight loss. As a matter of fact, a mouse study showed that adding rosemary leaf extract to a high-fat diet actually resulted in weight loss and not the expected increase in body fat and weight1.

But rosemarys exact mechanism of action was not known until recently. A study published this year in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry shows that rosemary may activate energy sensing molecules inside cells, leading to the activation of fat and sugar catabolic pathways2. This was a cell culture study using liver cells. The researchers wanted to test rosemarys effect on liver metabolic pathways of fats and sugars. Could rosemary actually activate fat and sugar metabolism and produce energy in the cells?

Rosemary Extract Increases Sugar Consumption

In the study, rosemary extract at 2, 10, and 50 micrograms/milliliter was infused into the liver cell cultures. The researchers then measured sugar consumption and compared it to a standard concentration of the diabetic drug metformin. Heres what they found at the different concentrations:

--Rosemary at 2 micrograms/ml increased sugar consumption by 6%

--Rosemary at 10 micrograms/ml increased sugar consumption by 13%

--Rosemary at 50 micrograms/ml increased sugar consumption by 21%

--Standardized metformin concentration increased sugar consumption by 22%

All three rosemary concentrations increased sugar metabolism by the liver cells. But most amazing was the fact that the highest concentration increased sugar metabolism almost as much as the powerful drug metformin.

Rosemarys Future in Treating Diabetics

So, now what? Well, the cell culture study certainly gives us a great starting point. Now we need to translate this cell data into human clinical data. Of course, this will take some time and money. Dose, safety, and efficacy all need to be documented. The last step is manufacturing. If your business is product innovations, check into rosemary standardized extracts immediately. Rosemary will be big and soon. In the meantime, be sure to cook with rosemary whenever you can! Releasing the beneficial oils naturally by slow cooking it in stews, sauces, and soups is probably the best way to help burn some excess sugar.


1.) Planta Med. 2010 Apr;76(6):566-71. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1240612.

2.) J. Agric. Food Chem, Publication Date (Web):February 22, 2013. DOI: 10.1021/jf400298c

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