Summer, sunshine and roses.  What a delight they are to have in the garden with the variety of colors, blossom shapes and fragrances. Long a symbol of love, war, politics and beauty, roses have worked their way into our hearts and into our cuisine.

A little history first.   Fossil evidence date roses back nearly 35 million years, with cultivation beginning nearly 5,000 years ago–likely in China.  Now there are 100-150 estimated species of Rosa growing wild or cultivated on nearly every continent. The Romans and Middle Eastern cultures used roses for medicinal purposes, celebrations, perfume, as confetti at celebrations or to honor royalty. Well, who doesn’t want to walk on a path sprinkled with roses?

Rose oil and water was considered legal tender for trade and payments during the 7th and 8th centuries–not quite as crazed a trend as the Dutch tulips bulbs. And there was the famous “War of the Roses” in the 15th century– the red rose symbolized Lancaster and the white rose was the symbol of York.

In the early 1800’s botanically illustrator Pierre Joseph Redoute’s completed “Les Rose,” a collection of watercolor paintings from the roses in Napoleon and Josephine’s gardens at Chateau de Malmaison.  This work is still considered one of the finest botanical records of roses.

Personally, roses hold a dear place in my heart. My grandfather was a master gardener and cared for several public rose gardens as well as his own.  Grandma would harvest the petals for potpourri and jellies.  And my parents kept a very neat rose garden right outside the front door. Pretty magical to be able to loose yourself under an enormous Austrian Copper rose bush for a nap, to fill vases with roses, to be able to identify each rose just by fragrance.

Enough history and sentimentality…

Western nutritional highlights
From a western nutritional perspective, roses don’t hold significant levels of minerals and vitamins except for vitamin c, which is most abundant in rose hips rather than the petals. Where roses shine is in their energetics.

Rose’s Eastern nutritional energetics and highlights.

  Clears heat, cools the blood and stops bleeding
Rose has a very clearing, cooling and calm nature.  Patterns of blood heat include rashes, fever, nose bleeds.  Doesn’t matter which organ has the heat (liver fire=constipation, stomach fire=mouth sores, etc) rose will help cool heat patterns.
Harmonizes menstruation, strengthens and harmonizes reproductive qi
That’s right, roses are wonderful for treating reproductive disharmonies including: irregular or painful menses, PMS, low self-esteem, excessive bleeding, impotence, infertility and low libido.  But don’t just keep it to the ladies. Roses help to increase sperm count and resolve sperm incontinence.
Clears Liver qi congestion and promotes bile flow 
Liver qi stagnation?  In Chinese medicine the Liver is responsible for ‘free and easy flow’–meaning the qi, blood and fluids in the body are moving easily. Liver qi stagnation appears as depression, mood swings, mid back pain, pms, constipation, flank pain, nausea and headaches. If you have angst, anger, irritability or frustration you have some liver qi stagnation.
  Nourishes the Heart, settles Shen and lifts depression
Very simply put, Shen is the spirit that is housed in the Heart. When the Heart’s Blood and Qi are harmonious, Shen is nourished and we responds appropriately to the environment.  We can build meaningful relationships and can experience joy and laughter.  When it is not nourished or unsettled we see patterns of insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, and inappropriate relationships (too close or too far). In extreme conditions we can see hysteria, irrational behavior and delirium.
  Clears toxins, reduces swellings and inflammation
Think boils, furuncles, carbuncles, abscesses and shingles.  It clears toxic damp heat in the colon that causes painful diarrhea too.
   Heals and repairs the skin
Use it internally and/or externally, rose is useful for eczema, ulcers, sprains, red irritated skin, wrinkles and spider veins.

Seven ways to use roses

  • A cup of tea– There are several varieties of rose tea available at local stores, or simply get some dried organic rose blossoms and petals and have make your own.  I often mix my with other flavors–last night raspberry leaf, nettle, and rose. To further cool the day down, I dropped in a few frozen blackberries.
  • Eat rose petals–dash them over salads, top berries or cakes with them.
  • Use as rose water or rose oil–use the water to flavor teas or as a refreshing facial rinse. Drop oil into a calming bath or use as an essential oil…a few drops a day under the tongue can go a long way. Rose water.
  • Make up a vinegar–use for everything from sun burns and bug bites to an unusual salad dressing. Rose vinegar.


Be well!

reposted with permission from