Ibiza wellness: No1 Rosemary Water – Science meets taste

Scientists are not the tourists you’d expect to see strolling the cobbled streets of a small Italian village. Yet, Acciaroli on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea attracts many lab-coated researchers intent on understanding how rosemary fuels the extraordinary good health and long lives of the residents. David and Bonita Spencer-Percival spotted this phenomenon early on and recently launched No1 Rosemary Water to harness the benefits of this wonder herb and bring it to the wider world.

After much experimentation, the Spencer-Percivals worked out a way to extract the specific nutrients in rosemary to add to a specialised drink. The result is a refreshing, thirst-quenching bottle of goodness that has the potential to protect the brain from Alzheimer’s and enhance memory function. The journey from the hills of Acciaroli to the shelves of Harvey Nichols was nothing short of a scientific melodrama.

It was a complicated expedition involving the world’s top botanical extraction company who had never before attempted a rosemary extract. Despite their expertise and high tech equipment it took two months of dedicated work to finally achieve the desired result. “It’s easy to put flavours into a drink but much harder to use extractions,” says David. “There was no point unless we could get the goodness from the plant into the bottle.”

The scientists explained that medicinal compounds work in unison and each of the compounds needed to be extracted to increase the beneficial effects of the final product. “I finally understood it when one of them said it’s like a bunch of keys that opens a series of doors,” says David. “If you don’t have all of the keys, you can’t open all of the doors and get to where you want to go.”

There are approximately 30 compounds found in rosemary of which there are still seven that remain unregistered on botanical charts and scientists have yet to profile. The two most prevalent ones that could provide the key to longevity and memory protection are rosemarinic acid and eucalyptol – both very powerful anti-inflammatories.

Finally, after various attempts, scientists working with David and Bonita created a potent liquid that contained everything from the plant except the rosemarinic acid. “It’s extremely unstable and has a boiling point of 500 degrees,” says David. The best method was to fresh chop the plant, cold brew it and add that to the initial extraction. “The scientists had loads of fun working it out! We got there in the end!” he laughs.

No1 Rosemary Water works with a syndicate of 200 fair-trade farmers across the world to produce the quantities of fresh rosemary required to make the extract. “Fresh rosemary is not easy to get in volume,” says David. “I’ve ordered the next 18 months worth so I could ensure supply. That came to 18,000 kilos of rosemary.” David and Bonita wanted to ensure their company complied with fare trade principles from the start.

Once the botanical scientists had their extraction breakthrough, David took the precious liquid to a drinks company where he spent weeks experimenting with volume and taste. “I wanted to keep it as pure as possible,” he says. “We went through a lot of shelf life testing to find the best way to stabilise the drink without additives.” Finally with a product both David and Bonita loved, they took it to market.

Professor Mark Moss of Northumbria University studies the effects of eucalyptol on the brain and will be using No1 Rosemary Water in clinical trials. “It’s possible this compound could act in the same way as drugs used to treat dementia,” he explains. “It causes an increase in a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. The implications of this kind of research are huge”. He’s not the only scientific researcher getting excited about rosemary.

The University California based Professor Alan Maisel is interested in studying the residents of Acciaroli. “We found that they don’t have the sort of chronic diseases that we see in the US such as heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer’s,” he says. “They eat rosemary everyday and we know that rosemary improves brain function.” Other studies have shown preliminary results that rosemary extracts can retard chemically induced cancers and tumours.

So far the science points to this super herb as an effective tool in the fight against memory impairments and cancers in addition to increasing cognitive function in healthy people. It might not be far off when government health agencies start prescribing rosemary as a preventative medicine. In the meantime, take a swig on a bottle of No1 Rosemary Water and simply enjoy its refreshing flavours, safe in the knowledge that not only is it tasty, but also good for you.

Subscribe for regular updates