There are over 2,800 plants in the rose family Rosaceae. Some you might recognize are: peaches, plums, almonds, apricots, cherries, strawberries, quince, hawthorn, rowan, blackberries, raspberries, Lady’s Mantle, Ocean spray.
Roses are not just pretty and edible, though we love them for these reasons, they are also useful medicine for first aid and long-term situations.
When you taste rose petals or rose hips you’ll first notice the astringency; that is the dry puckering sensation in your mouth. This points to the styptic and wound healing action of plant. Use the petals to clear up inflamed skin or skin that has been torn, injured, or otherwise irritated. I like to make rose oils (I mean macerated oils, not essential oils) and use this as the base of my face creams and salves for such skin conditions. Rose petals, medicinally used, fit the picture for someone who is fatigued, worn out, depleted, anxious, and has dry hair or dry skin. In Chinese medicine this constellation of symptoms falls under the category of ‘blood deficiency’. Yes, you can certainly use the rose hips for this as well. The entire plant is anti-inflammatory. Rose hips and seeds are chock full of anti-oxidants which are the plant compounds that are potent anti-inflammatory and immune-supportive. While I’ve yet to try this myself, colleagues have shared successful cases of using concentrated decoctions of the rose hip for painful osteoarthritis conditions.
Once you keep chewing those velvety petals, you’ll notice some bitter principle in the taste, and a slight cooling effect. This points to the relaxing, relieving, action on the liver. This herb is great at easing liver stagnation and tension.
Roses teach us about love and boundaries. You may admire the beauty of the bloom, but then, approach carefully, and thoughtfully – or else.
My favourite are the wild roses. The tangled web that is their thicket really is what calls me home. These wild hedges form natural boundaries in meadows, fields and open forests. They are home to small animals. They inspire you with their beauty, and call you to become awake should you come too close without respect; they will draw blood with their thorn.
Wild beauty speaks to me. I much prefer it to the groomed, cultivated landscapes. Perhaps that’s because I feel most at home in wild, wide open spaces. I relate to the habitat these beauties call home, the edges of places, where the field turns into a wild hedge growing among hawthorn and blackberry.
I use Rose medicine for those who’ve had their boundaries crossed. For someone who has an open heart that has been trampled over, bruised. I use this herb for those who have experienced heartbreak and loss from a relationship that has fractured – from a person, place or situation. This is in my formulas for prolonged grief, or for those who feel like they’ve been in a chronic state of heartache or deep sadness. It can help raise spirits and remind us that love is possible in all its many forms after tragedy. Rose helps us connect to hope.
I also use it for those who are so hardened from loss or disappointments in life they have grown sharp prickles themselves, and have a hard time letting love in and want to. I find rose helps people grow healthy boundaries that are right-sized for them. I’m writing this post on the anniversary of my father’s death. A few drops of rose petal tincture brings me back to my heart, and away from the cliff of all-consuming grief, and reminds me of all that is alive and vital in my life. This is an example of how rose can help establish healthy boundaries within.
I consider it a specific herb for those who feel too sensitive for this world, and for those who see the world as only a harsh, mean, and painful place. I recommend fresh rose petal tincture as a nice dose of rose coloured glasses. To inspire motivation and spirit to find your own path of healing and wholeness. Not the denial “Pollyanna” style rose coloured glasses; the kind where just enough optimism and hope can facilitate the next step towards one’s own personal version of health.
I also use rose medicine for anyone who has experienced abuse. Especially sexual abuse or violation. For those who feel disconnected from their own sexual energy. For those who feel they cannot access their sexuality, and want to. Roses medicine is specific for reconnecting the heart with the sex, which I find important from an energetic perspective for re-establishing sexual desire.
Rose petals cool hot inflammations such as skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis (in combination with other herbs that match a persons constitution), liver heat or liver congestion, and vaginal irritation such as candida. It’s a base in my beloved face cream, Cleopatra’s Rose Cream (recipe here) for it’s cooling, anti-inflammatory nature, and I place the petals in apple cider vinegar for the most spectacular rose-coloured vinegar that I use in food, or externally as a sunburn lotion (it really does work, try it. Directions below).
For those who are burdened by bitterness, there’s nothing better than to be reminded by the sweetness of life and what’s possible after heart-break than fresh rose petal honey. A single drop on the tongue can bring a smile to many faces and a glow to the heart. Add that honey to tea or take on the spoon to soothe a sore inflamed throat, to settle a harassing cough, or apply to a bee sting (honey is a great antidote to a bee or wasp sting applied externally; with rose-infused honey, it makes it even more effective).
So long as a rose is not treated with chemicals they can be used medicinally. That said, I prefer the wild roses for medicine, and then garden variety (that are scented) for honeys and to use in the kitchen.
HOW TO MAKE ROSE PETAL MEDICINE
My primary method for using this herb is as a Fresh Petal Tincture (directions below). Second to that, I use it as a honey. Of course, you can use fresh rose petals any which way you like: tea, in a bath, oil and more.
pure local liquified honey, not creamed
A clean, dry wide-mouthed jar
Fresh rose petals, wild or cultivated garden variety (but not sprayed)
- Collect enough fresh rose petals to fill a wide-mouthed jar half way. Harvest them on a dry sunny day. Make sure to harvest petals that are bright and healthy looking, not brown and withering away. I like to collect them and then lay them out on newspaper, a flat box as pictured below, an old sheet, or gathering basket for a few hours to let all the little bugs run away.
2. Next, fill a wide-mouthed jar about half way with the petals. Do not pack them tightly.
3. Pour honey over top the petals filling the jar to the brim. So there ends up being twice the volume of honey than petals.
4. Take a chop stick or other instrument to mix (usually by poking) the petals and honey. You want each and every petal to be well coated by the honey as pictured below.
5. Affix a lid. Place on a sunny window sill for 1-2 weeks. The heat will help extract the magical scent and flavour from petal to honey.
Alternately, place the honey jar in a hot-water bath for 12 -24 hours and extract it that way.
Don’t cook it! That kills the precious natural enzymes in the honey that make it so healing.
I don’t strain the petals from the honey after the 2 weeks (or 24hrs on the stove) but I guess you can. I prefer to leave them in the honey where they crystallize and then you have yummy candied petals. This does not need to be refrigerated. Store in a cupboard and enjoy in teas, on toast, or by the spoonful!
Honey is precious! Please use sparingly and thoughtfully. I always feel conflicted using honey because I’m well aware it takes 2 million visits to flowers for a bee to make a pound of honey. Please make your honey usage conscious. We’re in a global Bee crisis, learn more about that here.
To use rose as a medicinal (therapeutic) tincture for internal emotional and physical support I do this:
- weigh out 250g of fresh rose petals (after a few hours of letting the bugs run away as pictured above for the honey) and place them in a wide mouthed canning jar.
- Measure 500ml of Brandy and cover the petals in the jar.Label.
- Shake and let the jar stand for one month. After one month strain and (optional) add 150ml of liquid honey to the finished liquid. This is to taste.
- I then transfer it to a tincture bottle and take anywhere from 5 drops as needed to ease anxiety, grief, and deep seated sorrow. For inflammations of the skin I’ll take 20 drops twice a day.
Personally, I find a little goes a long way with rose tincture. You can use it intuitively.
1. Fill a canning jar half way or 3/4 the way with fresh rose petals.
2. Pour apple cider vinegar over top the petals filling the jar to the brim. So there ends up being more vinegar than petals by volume.
3. Affix a lid. Label. Shake like crazy. Store the bottle on your kitchen counter and shake once daily. Strain and separate after 2 weeks.
You now have a delicious, beautiful and magical rose vinegar. This is the base of all my salad dressings. You can also apply it to skin to soothe a sunburn. Dilute it with water and use it as a facial toner. Put it in a clear, pretty bottle and give away as a gift.
Rose shares the vibration of love. Enjoy, and share this rose medicine widely.
With all my love,