With their sweet fragrance and complex flavour, roses teach us about love and boundaries.
You may admire the beauty of the bloom, but then, approach carefully and thoughtfully—or else.
There are over 2,800 plants in the rose family Rosaceae. Some of the most recognizable members are peaches, plums, almonds, apricots, cherries, strawberries, quince, hawthorn, rowan, blackberries, raspberries, Lady's Mantle, and Ocean spray.
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.
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, and wide open spaces. The edges of places, where the field turns into a wild hedge growing among hawthorn and blackberry.
Medicinal Properties of Rose
Roses are not just pretty and edible (though we love them for these reasons) they are also useful medicine for first aid, and even long-term health conditions.
When you taste rose petals or rose hips, you'll notice the astringency first; that dry puckering sensation in your mouth.
This astringency points to the styptic and wound healing action of Rose. Use the petals to clear up inflamed skin or skin that has been torn, injured, or otherwise irritated. I like to make rose oil (macerated oil, not essential oil) and use this as the base of my face creams and salves for skin conditions, as the entire plant is anti-inflammatory.
Rose petal medicine fits the picture for someone who is fatigued, worn out, and depleted with dry hair and skin. In Chinese medicine this constellation of symptoms falls under the category of blood deficiency.
Rose hips and seeds are chock full of antioxidants, plant compounds soothe inflammation and support the immune system. While I've yet to try this myself, colleagues have shared successful cases of using concentrated decoctions of rose hips for painful osteoarthritis conditions.
If you keep chewing those velvety petals, you'll notice a bitter taste, and a slight cooling effect. This points to the relaxing and relieving action on the liver.
Love and Boundaries: Healing Heart and Spirit
I use Rose medicine for those who've had their boundaries crossed. It’s a nourishing medicine for someone who has an open heart that has been trampled over and bruised. I use this herb for those who have experienced heartbreak and loss from a relationship that has fractured— that relationship could be to a person, place or situation. Rose is in my formulas for prolonged grief, and for those who feel like they've been in a chronic state of heartache or deep sadness. Rose can help to raise the spirits and remind us that love is possible in all its many forms after tragedy. Rose helps us connect to hope.
I also use Rose 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, even though they want to. I have seen Rose help people to 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.
Consider Rose a specific herb for those who feel too sensitive for this world, and for those who see the world as 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, and 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. Rose can also be an ally for those who feel disconnected from their own sexual energy, and Rose is also helpful for those who feel they cannot access their sexuality, and want to. Rose's medicine is specific for reconnecting the heart with the sex, which I find important from an energetic perspective for re-establishing sexual desire.
Preparations for Rose
On the edges of our being, Rose petals cool hot inflammations of the skin, such as eczema or psoriasis (in combination with other herbs that match a person’s constitution). Rose clears liver heat or liver congestion, and soothes vaginal irritation from conditions such as candida overgrowth. Rose is a base in my beloved face cream, Cleopatra's Rose Cream (recipe here) for it's cooling, anti-inflammatory nature. I also love to soak 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, Rose petal honey is the best reminder of the sweetness of life and the possibilities for love after heartbreak.
A single drop of Rose petal honey 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 roses are not treated with chemicals they can be used medicinally. That said, I prefer the wild roses for medicine, and the garden varieties (that are scented) for honeys and to use in the kitchen.
Rose Petal Medicine - Recipes
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.
Equipment and ingredients:
Pure local liquified honey, not creamed
A clean, dry wide-mouth 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.
- Next, fill a wide-mouth jar about halfway with the petals. Do not pack them tightly.
- Pour honey over top the petals filling the jar to the brim. In the end you should have twice the volume of honey to the volume of petals.
- Use a chopstick 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.
- 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.
Alternatively, 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.
ROSE TINCTURE - HEAVENLY ELIXIR
To use rose as a medicinal (therapeutic) tincture for internal emotional and physical support, I do this:
- Weigh out 20g 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 inflammation 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.
- Fill a canning jar halfway or 3/4with fresh rose petals.
- 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.
- 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,