What is rosmarinic acid?
Rosmarinic acid is a naturally occurring polyphenolic compound that was first discovered in 1958 by the Italian scientists M. L. Scarpatti and and G. Oriente and has antioxidant properties.
Polyphenols are a group of chemicals known to influence carcinogenesis, tumor cell proliferation, apoptosis, metastasis and inflammation.
Structurally speaking rosmarinic acid is a dimer of caffeic acid and 3,4-dihydroxyphenyllactic acid, bound by an ester linkage and is known as a phenylpropanoid.
Sources of rosmarinic acid
Rosmarinic acid can be extracted from rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), a woody, perennial herb native to the Mediterranean region which is a commonly used garnish for cooking.
It is found in a number of other related herb species such as Basil (Ocimum basilicum), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), Marjoram (Origanum majorana), Sage (Salvia officinalis) and Thyme (Thymus vulgaris).
It is also found in a variety of other plant species most notably in many of the mint or dead nettle (Lamiaceae) family, the common self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), the field hornwort (Anthoceros agrestis) and woundwort plants of the genus Stachys.
Standardized rosmarinic acid extract
Modern extraction methods allow supplement manufacturers to produce high purity rosmarinic acid in a quantity that the diet cannot provide.
In order to get the best results from using rosmarinic acid we recommend using a standardized extract with a purity of 90% or higher. Quality standardized rosmarinic acid extracts are manufactured in accordance with rigorous quality controls and laboratory analysis. The use of a standardized extract is superior to the use of powdered supplements which contain the pulverized parts of the plant.
Reputable dietary supplement manufacturers will clearly describe the method they use to extract and purify their rosmarinic acid. Rosmarinic acid extracts may be offered in a pure form that contains no additives, or in the form of a compound that includes other active ingredients that work in synergy.
Uses of rosmarinic acid
Traditionally many of the herbs containing rosmarinic acid have been used for herbal remedies for many years so it is hardly a surprise that the extracted acid has medicinal properties. It shows general anti-oxidant, anti-allergic, anticarcinogenic properties as well as anti-inflammatory properties
Rosmarinic acid is a primary ingredient of Perilla Oil, an oil that is a part of traditional Japanese Kampo medicine known as Saiboku-To. The use of Saiboku-To has proven effective in treating allergies in research studies (1-3).
Rosmarinic acid has shown antioxidant effects in vitro against superoxide radicals and hydroxyl radicals (4). Rosmarinic acid can also prevent the oxidation of LDL molecules, and has shown synergy with lycopene (5).
A 2004 study showed the effect of rosmarinic acid on seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and the resulting inflammatory allergic response that comes with this condition (6). Over 21 days patients who supplemented with rosmarinic acid had significantly reduced symptoms when compared to the placebo group. The same group conducted an animal study at the same time and concluded that rosmarinic acid was able to reduce inflammation via an antioxidant effect as well as by directly inhibiting the inflammatory response.
In the same year a further study on rosmarinic acid and its effects on seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis was conducted this time using extract of Perilla frutescens (an asian herb of the mint family) enriched for rosmarinic acid (7). Over the course of 21 days patients took Perilla frutescens enriched for rosmarinic acid and the results showed a significant reduction of symptoms when compared to the placebo group. Based on these findings the daily use of rosmarinic acid may help allergy sufferers.
Rosmarinic acid (via Perilla Oil) has been noted to have an anticarcinogenic effect against skin carcinogenesis as shown in studies conducted in 2003 and 2004 with rats (8-9). These studies showed that as well as there being an anti-inflammatory action there was a significant anticarcinogenic effect from topical application.
The anti-inflammatory effect of rosmarinic acid is well documented and this 2011 study is one of many examples where it was able to reduce inflammation (10).
The use of rosmarinic acid was also explored in a 2014 study where two mouse models demonstrated that supplementation with rosmarinic acid had an anti-inflammatory effect against acute and chronic inflammation resulting from injury. The study suggests that rosmarinic acid has potential for the treatment of pain and inflammation (11).
In a study published in 2015, rosmarinic acid was shown to be effective in reducing the inflammation resulting from injury by modulation of the NF-κB inflammatory response in rats (12).
Rosmarinic acid has been shown to improve blood vessel (endothelial) and blood cell health via its anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory properties. A study showed that Rosmarinic acid is able to improve blood cell health by reducing the rupture of red blood cells (known as hemolysis) via inhibition of C3-Convertase (13).
How to take rosmarinic acid
The use of an extract of rosmarinic acid as an accompaniment to food should not cause any health related side effects if the prescribed doses and treatment instructions are strictly observed. The recommended daily dose is between 200-300mg per day. It is recommended that extract of rosmarinic acid capsules are taken during mealtimes. As with all supplements they are not intended to replace a healthy and balanced diet.
As applies to taking any supplements, certain individuals, especially young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and patients using medication are advised to consult their physician prior to taking extract of rosmarinic acid. If you experience symptoms of weakness, abdominal pain, dizziness, skin irritation or other side effects while taking extract of rosmarinic acid, stop administering all nutritional supplements and consult your physician.
Purchasing a standardized rosmarinic acid extract with a purity rating of higher than 90% is the best way to maximize the benefits of rosmarinic acid while eliminating any undesirable side effects. All quality nutritional supplements are subjected to laboratory analysis and strict quality control standards. There is no substitute for quality when it comes to purchasing nutritional supplements so always ensure you buy the best quality products. Always purchase your nutritional supplements from a trusted vendor that thoroughly researches every product that they recommend to their customers.
(1) Egashira, Y., & Nagano, H. (1993). A Multicenter Clinical Trial of TJ‐96 in Patients with Steroid‐Dependent Bronchial Asthma A Comparison of Groups Allocated by the Envelope Method. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 685(1), 580-583.
(2) Tohda, Y., Haraguchi, R., Kubo, H., Muraki, M., Fukuoka, M., & Nakajima, S. (1999). Effects of saiboku-to on dual-phase bronchoconstriction in asthmatic guinea pigs. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol, 21(6), 449.
(3) Nakajima, S., Tohda, Y., Ohkawa, K., Chihara, J., & Nagasaka, Y. (1993). Effect of Saiboku‐to (TJ‐96) on Bronchial Asthma Induction of Glucocorticoid Receptor, β–Adrenaline Receptor, IgE‐Fce Receptor Expression and Its Effect on Experimental Immediate and Late Asthmatic Reaction. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 685(1), 549-560.
(4) Nakamura, Y., Ohto, Y., Murakami, A., & Ohigashi, H. (1998). Superoxide scavenging activity of rosmarinic acid from Perilla frutescens Britton var. acuta f. viridis. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 46(11), 4545-4550.
(5) Fuhrman, B., Volkova, N., Rosenblat, M., & Aviram, M. (2000). Lycopene synergistically inhibits LDL oxidation in combination with vitamin E, glabridin, rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, or garlic. Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, 2(3), 491-506.
(6) Osakabe, N., Takano, H., Sanbongi, C., Yasuda, A., Yanagisawa, R., Inoue, K. I., & Yoshikawa, T. (2004). Anti‐inflammatory and anti‐allergic effect of rosmarinic acid (RA); inhibition of seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (SAR) and its mechanism. Biofactors, 21(1‐4), 127-131.
(7) Takano, H., Osakabe, N., Sanbongi, C., Yanagisawa, R., Inoue, K. I., Yasuda, A., … & Yoshikawa, T. (2004). Extract of Perilla frutescens enriched for rosmarinic acid, a polyphenolic phytochemical, inhibits seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in humans. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 229(3), 247-254.
(8) Ueda, H., Yamazaki, C., & Yamazaki, M. (2003). Inhibitory effect of Perilla leaf extract and luteolin on mouse skin tumor promotion. Biological and pharmaceutical bulletin, 26(4), 560-563.
(9) Osakabe, N., Yasuda, A., Natsume, M., & Yoshikawa, T. (2004). Rosmarinic acid inhibits epidermal inflammatory responses: anticarcinogenic effect of Perilla frutescens extract in the murine two-stage skin model. Carcinogenesis, 25(4), 549-557.
(10) Gamaro, G. D., Suyenaga, E., Borsoi, M., Lermen, J., Pereira, P., & Ardenghi, P. (2011). Effect of rosmarinic and caffeic acids on inflammatory and nociception process in rats. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2011.
(11) Boonyarikpunchai, W., Sukrong, S., & Towiwat, P. (2014). Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of rosmarinic acid isolated from Thunbergia laurifolia Lindl. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 124, 67-73.
(12) Rocha, J., Eduardo‐Figueira, M., Barateiro, A., Fernandes, A., Brites, D., Bronze, R., … & Fernandes, E. (2015). Anti‐inflammatory Effect of Rosmarinic Acid and an Extract of Rosmarinus officinalis in Rat Models of Local and Systemic Inflammation. Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology, 116(5), 398-413.
(13) Friedman, T. (2015). The Effect of Rosmarinic Acid on Immunological and Neurological Systems: A Basic Science and Clinical Review. Journal of Restorative Medicine, 4(1), 50-59.