“Stop and smell the roses”
What emotions do you get when you inhale the floral scent of roses? What memories, thoughts, and feelings are triggered?
Many aromatic plants such as roses contain essential oils, which are volatile oils that enter the body and trigger various effects. They are commonly inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Inhalation of essential oils carries the molecules to the limbic system in the brain which includes the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus which are involved in various behaviours such as memories, arousal, emotions, learning, desires, and appetite.
Rose is a symbol of love and romance.
Rose has a long history of use. It is thought that the first methods of distillation of essential oils in the Middle East were done on rose. The plant produces:
- Rose essential oil
- Dried flowers which are used in grocery products
- Rose hips which are the berries under the petals. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, polyphenols, carotenoids and tannins. The vitamin C content of rose hips is higher than citrus fruits.
- Rosehip oil
- Rose concrete and rose absolute
Rose is not an easy oil to diffuse and requires a lot of raw material harvested at the right time. About 4000 pounds of roses yields 1 pound of essential oil. This makes it an expensive oil.
There are different varieties of rose from around the world that are used to make the oil. Commercial rose oil usually comes from two rose species: damascena (Damask rose) and centifolia. Bulgaria and Turkey are the main producers of R. damascena essential oil.
In Ayurveda, rose products were used as astringents, cooling agents, mild laxatives, and antibacterials among many other uses. Rose oil is also commonly added to the skin, diluted in a carrier oil (Eg. almond, jojoba, sesame oil etc) or as part of skin care products and massage oils.
Botanical Name: Rosa damascena
Taste: Bitter, pungent, astringent, sweet
Energy: Cooling, wet
Actions: Alterative, emmenagogue, refrigerant, nervine, carminative, laxative, aphrodisiac, stimulant, antidepressant, hepatic
Usage: Used in perfumes, skin care products, as a compress, added to baths, inhaled, used in massage oils, as a spray
Constituents: These vary based on the species and growth conditions. Main ingredients are: citronellol, citral, carvone, eugenol, phenyl geraniol, linalool, a-pinene, b-pinene, a-terpinene, limonene.
Nervous System Benefits
- Rose essential oil helps to reduce anger and depression
- Rose essential oil helps reduce headaches
- Rose essential oil awakens the mind and boosts confidence
- Rose essential oil has anti-seizure effects, probably due to the flavonoids that have affinity to the GABAergic system in the brain.
- Rose essential oil shows protection against induced neuronal cell death. It also protects against aluminum-induced neurotoxicity.
- Rose essential oil increases blood circulation and is vasorelaxant
- Rose essential oil benefits cardiac issues through massage. It increases heart rate and contractility and inhibits ACE enzyme
- Rose has been used for a long time as an aphrodisiac
- Rose is common in perfumes. It is a symbol of love and romance. The scent stimulates desires, evokes romantic feelings, and boosts libido.
- Rose promotes harmony and elevates the mind by creating a sense of well-being
- Rose essential oil has shown in studies to increase sperm count, increase the diameter of seminiferous tubules, and protect against testicular damage
Reproductive System and Hormones
- Rose essential oil stimulates hormonal secretions which can then trigger menstruation for those who are suffering from irregular cycles.
- Rose essential oil eases cramps, nausea, and fatigue, relieving pain of PMS. One study with rose essential oil showed daily massage caused improved psychological, physical, social, and reduced PMS symptoms.
- Rose essential oil increases salivary estrogen concentration and has been used during menopause to reduce symptoms
- Rose is common in face creams especially for mature skin as it helps against wrinkles as well as dry skin. It is also an antioxidant that counteracts free radical damage that ages skin.
- It is astringent so it is used in skincare for inflamed skin
- It is moisturizing and helps reduce sunspots
- It reduces scarring and improves healing of skin and stretch marks
- Rose essential oil is antibacterial due to ingredients such as citral, nerol, and farnesol. It has shown activity against many bacteria.
- Rose essential oil is good for small injuries to prevent infection and improve healing
- It has citronellol (also in citronella) which is a mosquito repellant.
- It has methyl eugenol which is a local antiseptic and anesthetic
- Rose essential oil is antiviral due to citronellol, geraniol, and kaempferol and has activity against Candida
There are many natural skin care products that have rose essential oil. The popular Weleda products have a rose renewing facial care line. Andalou has a rose line that uses rose stem cells and rosehip oil. Dr. Hauschka has had the Rose Day Cream since the 1960s. Of course you can also buy rose essential oil and rosehip oil in many health food stores. You can also make your own products using these oils!
Whipped Body Butter for Vata Dry Skin
- ¼ cup shea butter
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1/8 cup avocado oil
- 10 drops rose essential oil
In a double boiler, gently melt the shea butter and coconut oil. Add avocado oil. Remove, add to a bowl and let it cool down until it is not liquid anymore. Mix in the rose oil. With a hand mixer, whip it until it is fluffy. Store in a cool place (otherwise it may melt again).
Pitta Cleansing Paste
- ¼ cup chickpea flour
- 6 drops rose essential oil
In a bowl, add flour and slowly mix in water stirring until a paste is formed. Add rose oil and mix. Rub onto the face and the wash away with water.
Simple Kapha Massage Oil
- ¼ cup mustard seed oil
- 12 drops rose essential oil
In a storage jar/container, mix the oils. Massage the body regularly.
And I have some exciting news!
I am currently working on an Ayurvedic Aromatherapy e-course that is detailed and comprehensive. It is organized into 12 modules that teaches you everything you need to know about Aromatherapy, and Ayurveda uses essential oils to balance doshas. You get a Materia Medica on dozens of essential oil, properties, and usages. You get all the health benefits of each essential oil organized per body system, based on research. You also get lots of DIY recipes with essential oils. This is a wonderful resource to have (for life!).
Hafiz Majid Rasheed et al. Chemical Composition and Vasorelaxant and Antispasmodic Effects of Essential Oil from Rosa indica L. PetalsEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015: 279247.
Shinohara K et al. Effects of essential oil exposure on salivary estrogen concentration in perimenopausal women. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2017 Jan;37(8):567-572.
Mahboubi M. Rosa damascena as holy ancient herb with novel applications. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015 Oct 30;6(1):10-6.