Healing Medicine of the Rose
Roses as Food and Medicine for Physical, Spiritual, Emotional Healing
Exquisite, graceful, alluring, the rose is associated with sophisticated beauty and love. But the rose is much more than an ornamental flower adored for its heady aroma. The healing medicine of the rose is extraordinary and under-appreciated, and using roses as food and medicine can offer us deep physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. There are many simple ways to enjoy the extraordinary healing medicine of the rose, including making your own rose elixir (combing rose, honey, and brandy), rose honey, rose infused vinegar, rose tinctures, and rose water. Let me share the medicinal benefits of the rose, and six simple recipes for creating your own rose medicine.
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History and Mythology of the Rose
Throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, the significance of the rose is celebrated in art, literature, poetry, and mythology. In addition to their beauty, roses were grown in medieval gardens for use as food, medicine, and making perfumes.
Vishnu, the supreme God of India, created his bride Lakshmi using roses.
Grieving the death of her lover Adonis, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, created the red rose when her tears fell.
In Roman myth, Flora, the Goddess of spring and flowers, discovered the body of her dearest nymph and begged all the Gods to come to her aid and change the body of her beloved nymph into a flower. Apollo gave the breath of life, Bacchus bathed the body in nectar, Vertumnus gave her fragrance, Pomona gave fruit, and Flora gave her a crown of petals.
Healing Medicine of the Rose
Roses were often used as food and medicine. Roses are part of the large Rosaceae family which includes strawberries, raspberries, almonds, apples and more. Roses provide healthy antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. Roses, especially rose hips, are high in vitamin C and cancer-fighting compounds.
Emotional and Spiritual Healing
But I have found the most benefit of the power of the rose to be its ability to heal our aching hearts.
We all experience grief and heartache at times, but sometimes our pain becomes too heavy a burden to carry. Rose medicine can be a wonderful way to soothe our aching hearts or lift us from deep grief.
Herbalist Kiva Rose uses roses as food and medicine and especially the powerful rose elixir. Rose elixir is exceptionally uplifting and can be used to relieve trauma, grief, depression, anxiety, heartbreak and chronic stress and fatigue. Kiva recommends using rose elixir similarly to Rescue Remedy for its soothing and recuperative effects.
The energy of the rose is elegant and uplifting, and the rose, like many plant medicines, is able to adjust to our needs.
Intuitively we know the rose is uplifting – simply inhale the aroma of the rose and notice how it affects us emotionally. Roses are sensual and evoke the spirit of love in the heart and mind, and are considered an aphrodisiac. Used thoughtfully, the rose has the powerful ability to lift depressive moods and to create a sense of well-being.
There are thousands of varieties of roses cultivated around the world. All parts of the rose can be used as food and medicine, including: leaves, petals, hips, roots and root bark. When choosing roses as food and medicine, only use only organically grown roses. Strongly aromatic roses make the best medicine.
Six Delightful Rose Recipes
Glass jar with lid
Organically grown fresh or dried rose petals
- Fill your jar with rose petals.
- Fill the jar 2/3 full with honey.
- Stir the honey to coat the rose petals.
- Add the brandy, enough to cover the rose and honey.
- Cover the jar and gently invert it, turning it upside down and right side up several times to gently mix everything well.
- Let sit for several weeks.
- Strain. The used rose petals make a nice topping for desserts or eaten by the spoonful.
- Store your elixir in a covered jar. I enjoy using a decorative bottle like this one.
Ways to Enjoy Your Rose Elixir
- Take by the teaspoon
- Add to seltzer or mineral water
- Add to tea or other beverages
- Use as a topping for cakes and muffins
- A lovely topping for ice-cream
If you want to avoid alcohol, you can make a simple herbal-infused honey using rose petals. The process is the same as the elixir, except you eliminate the alcohol and simply cover the rose petals with honey. Rose honey can be used to top baked goods, in plain yogurt, on homemade bread, by the spoonful, added to beverages and of course rose honey makes an elegant gift.
Rose – Infused Vinegar
Rose vinegar is lovely and can be used to make colorful vinaigrette salad dressings and makes an aromatic addition to sauces and marinades.
Your rose vinegar can be combined with water in a spray bottle to use on sunburns and bug bites – roses are cooling and offer relief from conditions of heat and inflammation. Rose vinegar would be a lovely addition to your homemade hair rinse. And of course, rose vinegar would make a unique gift.
Rose petals fresh or dried – red or dark pink petals create a distinctively colored vinegar
Glass jar with lid
Vinegar of your choice
- Fill your jar with rose petals
- Cover rose petals with vinegar and stir to remove air bubbles. Add more vinegar if needed.
- Cover (I used a piece of waxed paper under the metal lid to protect it from the vinegar)
- Allow to infuse for a few weeks. You will see the vinegar take on the color of the roses.
- Strain the rose petals and enjoy your lovely new vinegar.
Rose tinctures are generally used in small amounts. One half to one dropper full at a time on the tongue delivers the medicinal qualities of the rose directly to the bloodstream. Sometimes I add a dropper full to a small glass of water or an herbal tea.
Pint jar with lid
tinted glass jar with dropper for storage of your tincture
Roses fresh or dried to fill your jar
- Fill your jar with rose petals (full but not stuffed)
- Add brandy to completely cover the roses, stirring to remove air bubbles. You might need to check after a few minutes and add a little more brandy as the roses soak up the alcohol, especially if you are using dried rose petals.
- Label, cap and allow to sit for at least four weeks.
- After four weeks, strain the rose petals and keep the tincture in a tinted glass jar. I prefer keeping my tinctures in a small tincture bottle with a dropper for ease of use. When the small bottle runs out, I simply add more tincture from the larger jar (using this this tiny funnel.)
Rose Infused Oil
Rose oil can be used directly for skin care, as a massage oil, to create a healing salve, or added to your favorite natural homemade lotion recipe. Rose is cooling, soothing, and excellent at relieving pain and inflammation. This makes rose oil perfect for all kinds of skin care including rashes, eczema, hives, and poison ivy.
- Fill your jar with dried rose petals. Dried is best for making an oil, since the moisture present in fresh rose petals might cause mold to form in the oil.
- Add oil to the jar, making certain you completely cover the rose petals. I suggest adding the oil and giving the jar a gentle stir to remove air pockets. Add more oil as needed to cover the petals.
- Cover and let sit for at least four weeks, but try to remember to shake daily.
- After four weeks, use cheese cloth or similar material to strain your oil. Squeeze the cheese cloth to get all that precious rose oil out!
- Store in a cool dry place.
Rose water is simple to make and can be used in so many ways. Use the links for inspiration and instructions on using your rose water to make your own:
- Homemade perfume spray
- homemade facial toner
- Cooling and uplifting rose water face mist
- Sunburn relief spray
- Rose petals fresh or dried – 1/4 cup for dried petals, 3/4 cup for fresh petals
- Water 1 1/2 cups
- Dark bottle for storage
- Add your rose petals and water to a saucepan, cover and bring to a gentle boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer, covered.
- Simmer until the petals lose their color (5-10 minutes)
- Keeping the lid on, allow the water to cool completely.
- Strain through your cloth.
- Store in a dark bottle in a cool place
The Majestic Power of the Rose
Roses capture our imagination and are a wonderful way to say “I love you.” But roses are much more than simply decorative ways to commemorate our love, they can change us – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I hope you invite the majestic rose into your life and find ways to enjoy the extraordinary health benefits.
Wishing you good health,
More on Roses as Food and Medicine
If you enjoy learning how to use herbs to improve health, consider the Herbal Academy’s online courses. They offer introductory, intermediate and advanced classes. The Herbal Academy’s programs are rich and full with recipes to get you started creating your own herbal remedies.