I fell in love with the smell of roses as a small child. Despite being told it smelled of "old ladies" or was old fashioned I just naturally loved it.
Now roses are one of the few plants that survive my rather brown thumb and I love everything about them: the scent ( I grow old varieties that still have a rosey scent), the delicate petals, the layer, and even the thorns. A rose garden isn't all beauty and pleasure, but also thorns, as is life. So I see roses as a metaphor for life. If you aren't careful you'll get pricked.
My first encounter with roses as anything other than decorative was in 1995 when I took my first aromatherapy class. The instructor discussed the rose oil being used in a diffuser in times of great loss and/or crisis. When her mother passed from this life rose is what got her through her grief.
Roses have two medicinal parts I want to discuss: the flower petals and the hips. First I want to make one important note before you go off to harvest rose medicine. Conventionally grown roses are heavily sprayed so please buy organic. Even better grow your own organically.
The flower petals:
The rose is cooling and drying. For the peri-menopausal to menopausal women that means they may help cool off the hot flashes and night sweats. You may think, "Hey! hold on there! It is drying and that is the last thing I need at this time of life." Rose doesn't cause your tissues to dry out. Rather it helps your tissue hold on to moisture. Think of all the rose moisturizer on the shelves of Whole Foods. They usually are moisturizing without leaving you greasy.
A study out of Iran compared Rosa damascena extract to a prescription anti-inflammatory on menstrual cramps and they found that the extract had a similar effect on the pain without the side effects! They used 200 mg every 6 hours.
In a 2011 study a rose mouthwash was shown to help recurrent mouth lesions.
Rose has also been shown to be an antioxidant and antibacterial.
Rose tea is a lovely was to enjoy the benefits of rose. A couple of teaspoons of dried petals to a cup of hot water should make a nice tea, but you can play with the amount. Dried rose petals added to black tea is also nice, especially iced ( think of the cooling benefits!)
Rose water sprayed on the face and neck in the evening makes for a good astringent for the skin and is my secret to ease the night sweats that come with hormonal changes.
The rose hips:
If you are looking to grow your own roses another great reason the look into the old varieties is they tend to have better hips.
Rose hips are loaded with vitamin C. You already know of vitamin c's ability to fight off illness and prevent scurvy, but did you know that it also helps with bone density, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, helps wounds to heal, and reduces risk of skin cancer? These are just a few of the benefits of vitmin c and rose hips have more vitamin c than citrus fruits!
Rose hips can be added to tea and they're especially good with hibiscus.
When my children were smaller I would make rosehip syrup in the autumn to last the winter and it is yummy for everyone. There are loads of recipes online to choose from. You can also get rosehip jams and jellies. But my favorite way to enjoy rose hips is right off the plant in the garden.
See, roses aren't just an old lady thing they are there for us at all ages and stages. From stuffy noses to cramps to bone density and wrinkles. From maiden to crone. There are over 300 species and thousands of cultivars. There are various colors and even scents. They climb, ramble, or grow into bushes. They are in pots or spreading and branching over the fence. Roses stand for love, all sorts of love, and couldn't we all use a bit more love?