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Active Molecules: What is Rosemary Essential Oil Composed of?

Rosemary is a plant commonly used in cooking. It also has virtues in aromatherapy and is generally found in the composition of cosmetic care products. It contains various active substances that give it interesting properties for the skin and the body. Let's look more closely at the composition of rosemary in this article.

Published July 31, 2023, updated on February 9, 2024, by Manon, Scientific Editor — 4 min read

Rosemary, in detail.

Native to Provence, rosemary is a highly popular aromatic plant used both in cooking and traditional medicine. Its name comes from the Latin term "ros marinus", which means "dew of the sea", and it belongs to the Lamiaceae family. Rosemary is originally from the Mediterranean region, but it is cultivated in many regions of the world today. There are different types of rosemary with varied chemotypes: verbenoniferum, cineoliferum, and camphoriferum.

Rosemary essential oil is used to alleviate rheumatic pain, stimulate blood circulation, and soothe digestive disorders. A treatment regimen based on this natural extract is recommended for spring and autumn to detoxify and stimulate the liver. This essential oil also restores vitality and tone in cases of fatigue, both physically and mentally.

What are the active molecules in rosemary essential oil?

The essential oil used in our products is camphor rosemary essential oil (INCI: Rosmarinus Officinalis Flower/Leaf Oil). It is composed of a set of active molecules including:

  • α-pinene (18 to 26%):

    This is the most prevalent terpene found in nature. A study has shown that it possesses antimicrobial activity through structural changes in cellular morphology and disruption of protein, DNA, and RNA synthesis. It is used in cosmetics as a fragrance due to its unique scent. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties by suppressing inflammatory markers, reducing the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 and nitric oxide synthase, and inhibiting lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress.

  • Eucalyptol or 1.8 cineole (16 to 25%):

    Eucalyptol is a natural compound from the family of monoterpene epoxides found in plants. It is generally used in the pharmaceutical industry for its bactericidal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can be explained by its ability to inhibit TNF-α and IL-1β, pro-inflammatory cytokines. However, the mode of action of its antibacterial and antiviral activity is not yet clear. In cosmetics, it is used for its camphor-like scent.

  • Camphor (13 to 33%):

    Camphor is a chemical compound belonging to the family of monoterpenic ketones. It has potent antiseptic and analgesic properties. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate muscle and joint pain. However, its mechanism of action is not yet known.

  • Camphene (8 to 12%):

    Camphene, a member of the monoterpene hydrocarbons family, is an isomer of Alpha-pinene found in rosemary. Studies have shown that camphene possesses anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting prostaglandin E2, which is linked to the inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX). Additionally, it is capable of inhibiting the activity of 5-LOX, a pro-inflammatory enzyme. Camphene also exhibits antioxidant activity by reducing lipid peroxidation and inhibiting the release of nitric oxide and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS).


JIANG Y. & al. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of Rosemary. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology (2011).

BHOWAL M. & al. Eucalyptol: Safety and Pharmacological Profile. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2015).

EL HACHLAFI N. & al. In Vitro and in Vivo Biological Investigations of Camphene and Its Mechanism Insights: A Review. Food Reviews International (2021).

KHARAZMKIA A. & al. Potential effects of alpha-pinene, a monoterpene commonly found in essential oils against Toxoplasma gondii infection; an in vitro and in vivo study. Journal of Parasitic Diseases (2022).


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