Roses and Valentine’s Day go hand in hand. But there’s so much more to roses than making up pretty bouquets! Learn about the herbal value of roses with this monograph.
When you think of roses, my guess is that you think of a bouquet before you think of an herbal remedy! Roses aren’t really thought of as a powerhouse of herbal activity by those of us in the Western world.
But roses are actually very useful herbs! In fact, in other traditions of herbal healing, roses are used for cardiac, respiratory, reproductive, and nervous system health. Western herbalism uses rose mostly for it’s anti-inflammatory and relaxant effects.
Rose hips are another beneficial herb that comes from the rose plant. The hips are really the fruit that develops after the flowers expire on the plant. Because rose hips and rose petals are used so differently in herbalism, this month we’ll focus just on the rose petals and then look at rose hips another time.
Rose encompasses many varieties of the Rosa plant genus, but Rose Damascena is the more extensively studied species.
Rose is a well-known thorny shrub that grows in various sizes depending the variety. Rose damascena grows to be approximately 3-5 feet tall with compound leaves of 5-7 leaflets. The flowers are fragrant, starting as buds with tightly rolled petals which then unroll as they blossom and mature. Though rose flowers come in a variety of colors, red and pink are the most commonly used among herbalists.
Fresh and dried petals
Actions in the Body
- Rose is a well-respected relaxant nervine, calming the central nervous system.
- It contains tannins, making it an astringent herb that helps tighten tissue.
- The anti-inflammatory properties of rose calm inflammation in the body.
- Rose shows antioxidant activity, scavenging free radicals in the body.
Rose can be made into an infusion by steeping 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb in 1 cup of freshly boiled water for 10-15 minutes while covered, then straining out the petals. This infusion can be taken internally, used as a mouthwash, or applied topically as a skin wash or toner.
The dried petals can also be infused in a warm oil for 3-4 hours, then strained. The resulting infused oil can then be thickened with beeswax to make a gentle anti-inflammatory salve. Body butters, such as shea or cocoa, may also be added to make a more moisturizing skin treatment.
Rose petals can be added to various recipes in the kitchen for additional flavor and elegance. Cakes, sweetened biscuits, chocolates, fruit salads, and more are excellent options for the addition of rose petals.
Rose is safe for all ages where no rose allergies are present. Roses are frequently sprayed with pesticides, making organic certification of great importance when selecting a source.
Have you ever used rose in the kitchen, herbal preparations, or skin treatments?
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Baser, K. Hüsnü Can, PhD, et al. “Turkish Rose: A Review of the History, Ethnobotany, and Modern Uses of Rose Petals, Rose Oil, Rose Water, and Other Rose Products .” HerbalGram 2012. HerbalGram Online. Web 3 February 2016.
Boskabady, Mohammad Hossein, et al. “Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena.” Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences July-August 2011. Pubmed. Web 3 February 2016. (HERE)
“German Commission E Monograph: Rose Flower.” HerbalGram. Web 3 February 2016. (Available in print here)
“Rose Monograph.” The Herbarium. Web 3 Februray 2016.