When you think of roses, you probably think of love, romance, summer gardens, weddings, special days and celebrations. The rose has a rich cultural history in both East and West, appearing in folklore, poetry, art, and healing.
There are over 10,000 varieties of Rosa cultivated in the world, and all are beautiful. The most common varieties used for medicine are: Rosa rugosa Salt or Beach Rose, Rosa canina Dog Rose or Briar Rose, Rosa gallica var. centifolia Cabbage Rose, Rosa damascena Damascus Rose, and Rosa indica Tea Rose. My personal favorite is Rosa rugosa. This hardy shrub produces glorious bright pink flowers and large rosehips. There was one in our kitchen garden when I was growing up, and I loved the rose-petal tea and rosehip jelly my mother made from it.
You won’t be surprised to hear that rose tea is recommended for soothing wild emotions and lifting the spirits. Smelling roses, whether in tea, essential oil, or a bouquet, is helpful in times of grief, sorrow, or loss. Rose and Hawthorne flowers are taken together to protect the heart in times of trouble, and to encourage a healthy grieving process. Remember, treatment for grief and sorrow is not supposed to cover up or cut away our emotions, but to allow us to experience and integrate them, an essential part of deep healing. Roses will not take your pain away, but they will help your heart grow stronger.
Rose, like the equally glorious Saffron, has a long history of use in Womens healing. Rose has a gently stimulating effect on stuck energy, and encourages healthy and regular menstrual flow. It also soothes digestion and relieves built up mucus, whether in the gut or the respiratory system. It eases menstrual cramps and slow digestion, and is soothing to tense, frazzled nerves, and the wild mood swings of premenstrual tension. Rosebud and Raspberry leaf tea is a lovely and delicious way to prepare for your menstrual flow. Drink it for a few days before you expect to begin bleeding to reduce clots and cramps, and during the first day or two to ease the most intense time.
Rose is directly cooling, and the tea can be drunk during the hot months for its refrigerant action. For Pitta-types who tend to run hot, physically and metaphorically, rose is a calming ally, and can be used as a tea, taken in tincture or glycerite, worn as perfume, or used to decorate the home. Rose and Spearmint tea is very good cold on a hot day, and Rose and Lavender together are particularly calming.
Rosewater is a particular favorite of mine. Pure Rose essential oil is expensive, but Rosewater is easy to come by and I use it every day. Cooling and anti-inflammatory, rosewater can be splashed on the face and neck to soothe itching and redness from colds, allergies, and overheating. Spritz a little on the neck and wrists to calm the tempers of PMT or menopausal hot flashes. I spray it on every day before applying regular moisturizer to keep my skin smooth and supple. Rose and rosehip seed oil are time honored treatments for keeping aging skin fresh and glowing.
Rosebushes and climbing roses are classics in the garden, and there are far too many wonderful choices to be covered here. I will again say that the Rugosa Rose is very easy care, if you’re looking for something low maintenance, but it does get quite big (about 4ft wide and 8ft tall), and it does have thorns! Make sure you have enough space for it if you decide to add one to your garden. That being said, there’s nothing quite like having your own fresh roses for bouquets, tea, and skin care in your own back yard. But whether fresh or dried, roses are good medicine.
Wild Roses on the beach in Maine
Buy Rose Petals
Grief Relief Tincture
Heart Soother Tea