Rosmarinic acid supplement health benefit by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
February 13 2016

Rosmarinic acid is found in many plants, including rosemary herb, peppermint, Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), and fennel. Rosemary is widely found in the lands of Aegean and Mediterranean regions of Turkey.

Rosmarinic acid is an ester of caffeic acid and 3,4-dihydroxyphenyllactic acid. It is commonly found in species of the Boraginaceae and the subfamily Nepetoideae of the Lamiaceae. However, it is also found in species of other higher plant families and in some fern and hornwort species.

Romarinic acid in rosemary
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) extracts are widely used in the food, nutraceutical and cosmetic areas. Their major bioactive components have shown antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic and chemopreventive activities. The bioactive compounds deriving from rosemary leaves are carnosol; carnosic acid, rosmadial, genkwanin, and rosmarinic acid.

Curr Neurovasc Res. 2015. The cellular protective effects of rosmarinic acid: from bench to bedside. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) is one of the most common household herbs, used as spices in a variety of foods, and employed in traditional medicine for its healing properties. Rosemary is a rich source of active antioxidant constituents such as phenolic diterpenes, flavonoids and phenolic acids. Caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid are the most important bioactive constituents. Rosmarinic acid is one of the most important and well known natural antioxidant compounds, which possesses neuroprotective effects in different models of neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, as well as chemicalinduced neurotoxicity and oxidative stress.

Photoprotective properties of Prunella vulgaris and rosmarinic acid on human keratinocytes.
J Photochem Photobiol B. 2006. Institute of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Palacky University, Hnevotinska, Olomouc, Czech Republic.
UVA radiation provokes the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which induce oxidative stress in the exposed cells leading to extensive cellular damage and cell death either by apoptosis or necrosis. One approach to protecting human skin against the harmful effects of UV radiation is by using herbal compounds as photoprotectants. This study evaluated the protective effects of Prunella vulgaristr and its main phenolic acid component, rosmarinic acid, against UVA-induced changes in a human keratinocyte cell line (HaCaT). These results suggest that P. vulgaris and rosmarinic acid, used in skin care cosmetics, may offer protection against UVA-induced oxidative stress and may be beneficial as a supplement in photoprotective dermatological preparations.

Diabetic nephropathy
J Nephropathol. 2013. Diabetic nephropathy and antioxidants. Based on this review and our studies on diabetic rats, rosmarinic acid a multi-property antioxidant may be useful in DN patients, but of course, needs to be proven in clinical trials studies.

Hepatoma, liver cancer
Effects of rosmarinic acid against aflatoxin B1 and ochratoxin-A-induced cell damage in a human hepatoma cell line (Hep G2).
 J Appl Toxicol. 2004.
Recent findings have suggested that oxidative damage might contribute to the cytotoxicity and carcinogenicity of aflatoxin B(1). The induction of oxidative stress also plays an important role in the toxicity of another mycotoxin: ochratoxin A. In this study, the protective effect of rosmarinic acid against AFB(1) and OTA-induced cytotoxicity was investigated in a human hepatoma-derived cell lin. Rosmarinic acid, a natural phenolic compound contained in many Lamiaceae herbs such as Perilla frutescens, sage, basil and mint, inhibits complement-dependent inflammatory processes and may have therapeutic potential. The ability of Rosmarinic acid to reduce radical oxygen species production, protein and DNA synthesis inhibition and apoptosis caused by the two mycotoxins was also investigated. Our experiments proved the significant cytoprotective effect of Rosmarinic acid in vitro from OTA- and AFB(1)-induced cell damage. Moreover, Rosmarinic acid dose dependently attenuated ROS production and DNA and protein synthesis inhibition induced by both of the toxins. Similarly, apoptosis cell death was prevented, as demonstrated by reduction of DNA fragmentation and inhibition of caspase-3 activation.


Rosmarinic acid vs. rosemary oil. Are these one and the same or different? Was looking at one as supplement.
   A. To the best of my knowledge, rosemary oil contains rosmarinic acid and a number of other ingredients.

Q. I am an allergy sufferer. My osteopath recently advised me to find a reliable source of rosmarinic acid, which is a very recent development in the area of allergy treatments. I have been unable to find what is considered to be a pure, quality and reliable supplement. I found a couple of Life Extension products with rosmarinic acid in a formula online, but I do not have any information about their quality. None of my health food store locations have been able to obtain it. Can anyone on your staff please advise as to where I may find a source?
   A. We are not aware of a pure rosmarinic acid extract being sold. See the allergy page for info on allergies.

Q. You indicate on your web site that you are not aware of where rosmarinic acid supplements can be purchased. Rosmarinic acid can be purchased from Life Extension. They claim it is effective for osteoarthritis.

Q. Can a rosmarinic acid supplement be taken together with glucosamine or chondroitin?
   A. Human research is not available with the combination of rosmarinic acid and Glucosamine Sulfate or chondroitin, but my guess is that reasonable dosages should be okay.

Q. I am a student working at Coventry University England and want to study the effects of soluble rosmarinic acid, compared to essential oil rosemary and how it influences the immune system. The pure rosmarinic acid will be diluted to 10mg/ml and subjects will be exposed to the substance by a gentle breathing in of its vapour. Your studies have helped me considerably over the last couple of weeks, however questions have been raised on the safety of the rosmarinic acid solution, could I trouble you to confirm that this will be 100% un-harmful in diluted form and safe to be breathed in at such a concentration. Hope you can find time to respond I would really appreciate the help, thank you also for your extensive research as it is invaluable to my current study.
   A. Sorry but this form of rosmarinic acid exposure through inhalation is not a topic I have studied.

This rosmarinic acid page was last updated June 2008.