3 Healing Benefits of Rose Essential Oil
“An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup.”
~ H.L. Mencken, A Book of Burlesques
Roses are so frequently associated with idealism. We wear rose colored glasses when we want to avoid the truth. A rosy disposition is unreasonably cheerful. The idioms don't originate with roses, of course – rose tinted glasses actually helped roosters not to fight! – yet there they are, circling back to this lovely flowering perennial family.
For those who practice natural medicine, roses are every bit as delightful and hopeful as they are depicted. Swedish chefs have added rose hips to soup as a centuries-old delicacy. Rose flower water has permeated culinary and folk medicine practice as long as we have had the ability to distill it – over a thousand years!
More than Just a Pretty Flower
The scent of roses evoke memories and emotions associated with young love and evening strolls through the garden. How many of us remember the first time we ate a rose? I do. It was awkward and I was uncertain – flowers are ornamental! Of course, you wouldn't walk through a random garden (and certainly not a nursery or flower shop!) to pick a rose for dinner, but the organic, edible petals were pleasantly delicious. Why had I never done this before?
Later, rose essential oil hit my radar and I was fully hooked. You see, more than their beautiful blossoms and sweet smell, roses are a live-giving source of nutrients and healing.
Healing Properties of Rose Oil
Distilled from Rosa damascene petals, rose essential oil carries a myriad of chemical compounds that bring wellness and healing to the body. Just some of the properties include:
- Citronellol – Known for its contribution to citronella, its most popular feature is as an effective mosquito repellant.
- Citral – Part of vitamin A synthesis, citral is found in lemon myrtle and lemongrass as well, and is a strong antimicrobial agent.
- Carvone -Also found in dill and caraway, carvone acts as a digestive aid.
- Citronellyl Acetate -This is where roses get their pleasant aroma, and is a key component of beauty products and fragrances.
- Eugenol -Found most richly in clove, which is likely the most powerful antioxidant substance in existence.
- Farnesol – A safe and natural pesticide, farnesol is found in ylang ylang, jasmine, and orange blossoms as well as rose essential oil.
- Methyl Eugenol – A component of lemon balm and cinnamon, it has local antiseptic and anesthetic effects.
- Nerol – Hops and lemongrass also boast this antibiotic with a gentle, sweet aroma.
- Phenyl Acetaldehyde – Yet another sweet scent, this compound is shared with chocolate!
- Phenyl Geraniol – Geraniol is often found in flavorings and perfumes, but this is the natural form.
With so many well-studied compounds contained in these delicate petals, it is little wonder that rose is so beneficial! Rosa damascena reportedly contains the most of these chemicals compared with other rose varieties, as well as a stronger fragrance.
Health Concerns Addressed By Rose Oil
How wonderful is our God to place such rich and powerful healing effects in a beautiful and fragrant package! With the most attractive flowers and fragrances emerging as some of the most beneficial, just think of all the good that colorful, fragrant, and beautiful fruits, vegetables, and edible flowers can impart in your diet! The abundant life is a lovely one, and rose essential oil you experience it by addressing these 3 health concerns.
The first example that comes to mind when describing rose essential oil's effects would be its interaction with depression. Imagine struggling against a dampened mood, faltering mental state, or all out depression. Now place yourself in our ancient ancestors' shoes, with nature more readily accessible, and the wild sights and sounds of flowers surround you. Are you drawn to the flowers? Do you inhale the fragrance and take the moment in, a twinkle in your eye? Like magic, some of that heavy load begins to life.
Better than magic, it's science!
The draw to beautiful flowers and fragrances went under the figurative microscope as published by the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Clinical tests of nearly thirty women in a postpartum stage of life treated half of them with a rose and lavender oil aromatherapy treatment. They followed this practice twice weekly for a month, while the control group did not. Remarkably, postnatal depression was lessened in the rose group, as well as a lower occurrence of anxiety! (1)
2. Antimicrobial – Skin Health
Really, multiple components of rose essential oil make it ideal for skin treatments. Chinese researchers in 2010 pinpointed an excellent reason to include a few drops in DIY lotions and creams. In their studies, they found rose essential oil to contain some of the most potent antibacterial effects out of ten essential oils evaluated. After five minutes at just 0.25% dilution, rose essential oil was able to completely destroy the bacteria that causes acne (P. acnes). (2)
More evidence of rose's benefits for the skin emerged from Germany, also in 2010, not for what it could eliminate but for what it could create. Researchers explained that, “For substances applied in rose oil a clear relationship between their lipophilic character, chemical structure, and skin permeation could be confirmed.” (3)
In other words, rose helps to drive substances into your skin, increasing permeability and carrying with it whatever it contains. For natural preparations, this is an excellent trait. For toxin-laden commercial products that happen to include Rosa damascene, you may be ushering the worst right into your body!
Recommendation: Truly clear acne by dapping one drop of pure rose essential oil directly onto blemishes when they arise, continuing three times a day until it is gone. For safe application, use a sterile cotton swab, and dilute with a bit of coconut oil if preferred.
3. Relaxation & Heightened Libido
Bringing rose oil home may be more romantic than the roses themselves. As an effective anti-anxiety oil, stress and anxiety related sexual dysfunction may be relieved with rose essential oil. According to a study published in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment that evaluated the effectiveness of various treatments have on SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction (SSRI-I SD) for men with major depressive disorder (MDD),
“This double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled clinical trial showed that the administration of R. damascena oil ameliorates sexual dysfunction in male patients suffering from both MDD and SSRI-I SD. Further, the symptoms of depression reduced as sexual dysfunction improved!” (4)
Recommendation: Planning a lovely evening with your spouse? Use the bedside diffuser for two drops each of rose, sandalwood, jasmine and ylang-ylang. OR, to take things up a notch, place the oils in almond or jojoba carrier oils and gift your partner with a massage. The massage will be heightened by the aromatic, relaxing, and sensual fragrances.
Safety & Contraindications
When it comes to drug interactions and contraindications, there are literally textbooks devoted to the study of essential oil safety, and I must defer to the chemists, pharmacists and experts who understand this complicated topic more than I.
With that said, as a trained researcher and doctor, I think it’s important to note that there is virtually no research out there discussing how essential oils interact with drugs in human clinical trials. Essentially, what this means is that essential oil safety is still a wild frontier in the science community and no one really knows (for certain) how essential oils will interact with drugs or your body.
Let common sense be your guide. Still, be sure to maintain proper dilutions, and general safety considerations still apply. As always, discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur and consult your physician immediately.