A rose is a rose...
Is there a flower with more poems written of it, more lore surrounding it, more feelings evoked by it, than the rose? Rose is the enduring symbol of beauty, romance, femininity, higher awareness, the cycle of life and death, impermanence, spirituality (the list goes on and on).
Sappho, 6th C BCE Greek poet, called rose “queen of flowers.” I might go further to say rose is the goddess of flowers. Aside from her symbolism, rose is a medicinal treasure. Her scent has the power to turn us on, to lift us out of dark emotions, and soothe the spirit. Rose attar, or pure rose essential oil, is potent yet gentle medicine. It is precious in that it is extremely expensive and intensive to make – 60,000 roses are needed to make 1 ounce of essential oil!
Rose water is a much more accessible and probably equally effective form of medicine. It is most commonly known as a skin toner and as a flavoring in confections from the Near East. The color of the rose is indicative of its effectiveness in redness and inflammation of the skin – rose water or infusion can be applied topically to relieve rashes and burns.
There are other signatures that indicate the use of rose. Her prickles (not true thorns, despite what all the songs say) tell us that she has an effect on the blood – if a plant can prick you and make you bleed, it is likely useful for the blood. Taken internally, rose petal infusion cools and cleanses the blood. In Ayurvedic medicine, gulkand is a cooling summer treat of rose petals mixed with sugar (see recipe below). The slightly bitter aspect of rose lets us know that there is a carminative effect, easing digestive upset. According to herbalist Anne McIntyre, rose petals have the ability to help restore healthy gut flora.
Rose has an affinity with the heart and root chakras. According to herbalist Michael Tierra, rose helps relieve a “constrictive feeling of chest and abdomen” while it “harmonizes blood.”
Rose also has been used for eye complaints throughout history in many cultures around the world – from Native Americans to Asian Indians. Some have even claimed it helps correct far-sightedness. One way to relieve eye inflammation is to make a strong infusion of rose petals, then soaking a cloth in the infusion. Apply this to the eyes, re-soak and reapply for as long as possible. Keep doing this periodically over a few days until the inflammation is relieved.
More about Rose
Constituents and Nutrients
vitamin C, vitamins B, E, and K, essential oils, nicotinamide, organic acids, tannin, pectin
alterative, anodyne, anticatarrhal, antidepressant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, astringent, carminative, emmenagogue, immunostimulant, laxative, nervine, refrigerant, mild sedative
amenorrhea, colds, cough, depression, diarrhea, dysentery, dysmenorrhea, eye inflammation/irritation/soreness, fever, frigidity, headache, hemorrhage (esp. nose, uterus), infertility, insomnia, leucorrhea, mastitis, rash, skin inflammation, sore throat, sunburn, uterine congestion, weakness
From The American Rose Society: “The true roses (genus Rosa) have stipules (usually attached to the base of the leaf), compound leaves, usually with an odd number of leaflets, often produce prickles (outgrowths of the epidermis at any point along the stem) but never true thorns (modified stems, specifically from the buds just above the leaves). They have 5-petal flowers (R. omiensis is an exception with only 4, and cultivated “double” roses have been selected by horticulturists, as desirable “freaks.”) And, unique to the roses, they produce “hips” as their fruit type – a sort of inside-out strawberry, which is a deep, bowl- or snifter-shaped structure formed from the hypanthium. Inside are the hard, angular objects that most of us refer to as “seeds,” but which are actually small fruits (achenes), each of which contains a single seed. Other examples of achenes are the so-called “seeds” of a strawberry or a sunflower. In each case, the shell is structurally a fruit, with a single true seed inside, attached to the achene at one end.”
- Not recommended for high Kapha types [reference]
- Some herbalists recommend avoiding during pregnancy due to its properties as an emmenagogue
Place a handful of rose petals and/or buds in a quart jar. For a refreshing summer cooler, cover with cold water and steep overnight. For a stronger tonic brew, use boiling water. Strain and enjoy!