Rosemary vs. Lavender: Similarities & Differences Explained

Rosemary and lavender are two herbs that are often compared due to their various health benefits. These two popular natural herbs are well known for their ability to support the …

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Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Rosemary and lavender are two herbs that are often compared due to their various health benefits.

These two popular natural herbs are well known for their ability to support the body. They are both also used commonly in food and tea.

However, there are significant distinctions between these herbs that you should be aware of before buying one or the other.

In this article, we’ll dig into the key differences between rosemary vs. lavender, as well as their similarities.

rosemary vs. lavender differences and similarities

Rosemary Overview & Uses:

Rosemary belongs to the Lamiaceae, or mint, family of plants. This aromatic herb is originally native to the Mediterranean, but can now be found growing around the globe.

Rosemary’s needle-like leaves are the part of the plant that is commonly used. However, the woody branches that the leaves grow on also have several health benefits.

Rosemary has a strong, stimulating smell that warms the body and boosts circulation. Modern research suggests that rosemary has anti-inflammatory, cognitive-boosting, and hair growth effects.

Rosemary vs. lavender - rosemary benefits

1. May Support Brain Health 

Research suggests that rosemary can help to improve brain function and memory.

In a clinical trial, rosemary extract was able to improve reduce fatigue and improve mood and cognitive function. After 1 month, the rosemary extract was also shown to improve mental clarity and energy levels in the study participants.

Another study found that rosemary improved brain function in elderly individuals. The researchers found that 750mg of rosemary per day increased long-term memory recall.

In a clinical trial involving university students, taking 500mg of rosemary twice per day for 4 weeks showed promise for increasing memory performance. The researchers also found that rosemary supplementation reduced anxiety and depression scores and helpe to improve sleep.

2.  May Improve Mental Health

Rosemary has shown potential in aiding those with anxiety and depression.

A study found that rosemary and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil sachets had the ability to reduce test-taking stress in nursing students. The study found a reduction in stress as measured through pre-test anxiety levels, personal statements, and pulse rate. 

Another clinical trial found that rosemary supplementation helped to reduce anxiety and depression. It also helped to improve sleep scores. After 4 weeks of administration, the student’s anxiety scores improved by 18%, while depression scores were reduced by 9%. Total sleep scores improved by 14%. 

3. May Aid Hair Growth

Rosemary has been used for hair growth in both traditional and modern therapeutic practices.

In a comparative trial, rosemary essential oil was found to be just as effective as minoxidil 2% (a pharmaceutical), in treating hair loss. The researchers found a similar increase in hair growth in both groups, but there was less scalp irritation and itching reported by the rosemary group. 

Another study involving individuals with hair loss found that daily application of an essential oil blend containing rosemary, thyme, cedarwood, and lavender was able to support hair regrowth. 

You can read more about rosemary in our in-depth article on rosemary.

Lavender Overview & Uses:

Similar to rosemary, lavender is a plant that is part of the Lamiaceae (i.e. mint) family. Lavender contains many different species and is native to Europe, Africa, Asia, and India. 

The most common type of lavender is English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Other varieties include French Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and Egyptian Lavender (Lavandula multifida).

Lavender is known to have a relaxing, calming effect on the body and mind. As a tea, lavender has been taken to reduce anxiety, promote sleep, and improve digestion.

Lavender is also used via aromatherapy to reduce pain, improve wound healing, and promote overall relaxation.

rosemary vs. lavender - lavender benefits

1. May Improve Mental Health

Lavender has been scientifically proven to help with anxiety and is one of the most effective natural antidepressants.

In a clinical trial involving participants with elevated stress levels, subjects that underwent lavender aromatherapy reported improvement in anxiety levels and mood.

In a similar aromatherapy study, researchers compared lavender essential oil with other oils and found that lavender helped to improve mood and reduce anxiety levels.

Another study in postpartum women found that lavender essential oil helped to reduce anxiety and depression scores.

A research review found that 79% of individuals with anxiety had their anxiety levels reduced after trying lavender aromatherapy. In addition to aromatherapy, a lavender extract supplement was also shown to help diminish anxiety levels after 6 weeks of usage.

2. May Increase Sleep Quality

Lavender is traditionally recognized for its calming effects on the body. It’s thought to be a valuable herb for improving sleep.

A 3-month long study involving individuals with insomnia showed that those who received lavender aromatherapy experienced an increase in overall sleepy quality. This effect is thought to have been attributed to lavender’s potential to module the body’s parasympathetic system. 

Another study showed that lavender aromatherapy helped to improve sleep quality in women with mild insomnia.

Another clinical trial found that students that used lavender aromatherapy prior to bedtime had decreased levels of sleepiness and grogginess upon waking in the morning.

3.  May Relieve Pain

Research suggests that lavender may be one of the top herbs for reducing pain.

A study involving pregnant women undergoing Cesarean sections found that lavender aromatherapy is safe and effective in reducing labor pain. In every stage of labor, the individuals who received the lavender essential oil reported a reduction in pain.

Another clinical trial found that lavender oil essential helped to reduce pain in women who were given an episiotomy. An episiotomy is a cut made in the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus during childbirth. Researchers discovered that lavender aromatherapy was significantly more effective in reducing pain 4-hours post-episiotomy than the control. 

You can read more about lavender in our in-depth article on lavender.

Similarities Between Lavender and Rosemary:

When it comes to comparing lavender versus rosemary, there are many similarities between these two herbs.

First off, both of these plants are classified as being in the same Lamiaceae (i.e. mint) family of plants. Also, for both plants, the aerial portion (flowers/stems) is the part that is used medicinally. Being that they are in the same plant family, they share similar properties, such as having a relaxing effect on the body.

Secondly, rosemary and lavender both have the ability to promote relaxation in the brain.

Third, both lavender and rosemary can help to improve sleep quality.

And lastly, both rosemary and lavender can be used as both food and medicine. Rosemary is commonly used to cook and preserve food. Lavender on the other hand makes for a great tea and can be used in aromatherapy.

Differences Between Rosemary and Lavender:

There are quite a few differences between rosemary and lavender.

While both rosemary and lavender help to promote relaxation in the brain, they go about it in two different ways.

Lavender promotes a relaxed, peaceful brain state. This makes it great for taking before bed.

On the other hand, rosemary promotes an energetic, focused brain state. This makes rosemary a great herb to use before starting your work day and it can help to improve brain function.

Additionally, rosemary essential oil has the ability to promote hair growth. Lavender doesn’t have this benefit, but lavender aromatherapy can help to reduce pain perception.

Rosemary vs. Lavender: Which is right for you?

You can think of rosemary as a brain-stimulating herb that can help to improve brain function. It helps to provide an energetic, but peaceful brain state. It can also help to improve sleep. As a side bonus, rosemary can also help with hair growth.

If you’re looking to improve brain cognition and mental work performance, rosemary is the ideal herb for you.

Whereas with lavender, it’s a relaxation-promoting herb that can help to reduce anxiety levels and promote sleep. It’s great to take before bed as a tea or via aromatherapy. Lavender can also help to reduce pain perception.

If you’re looking to reduce anxiety levels and promote relaxation, then lavender is the herb for you.

Can You Take Rosemary and Lavender Together?

Yes, you can take rosemary and lavender together. These herbs do not have any known negative interactions when taken together. In fact, these two herbs are in the same plant family and may have synergistic properties.

The herbal combination of rosemary and lavender together may help to reduce anxiety levels. In fact, as mentioned above, a combination study of lavender and rosemary essential oils found that it helped to reduce pre-test anxiety in nursing students.

Taking lavender and rosemary together is a great way to get the benefits of each herb.

Potential Side Effects & Interactions:

Like most things, herbs may have the ability to interact negatively with the human body.

Rosemary is generally regarded as safe for most individuals to consume. It’s “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Studies suggest that lavender is also generally well-tolerated and safe to consume. The FDA has granted it GRAS status.

As with all herbal supplements, it’s best to run them by your personal healthcare provider for feedback prior to ingesting a new supplement.

Conclusion:

As you can see, both of these herbs are typically well tolerated and safe to consume.

If you’re trying to decide between lavender vs. rosemary, consider taking a few weeks to experiment with each herb for yourself before making your final decision.

You might find that one works better than the other or vice versa! Or, try them together and see if you get a synergistic effect.

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About Daniel Powers, MS

Daniel has a master's degree in herbal science from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He has a passion for herbal medicine and how it can be used to support everyday health & wellness.

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