Tuesday, June 18, 2013


ROSE-Rosa Damascena, Rosa Gallica, Rosa Rugosa, Rosa Centifolia

Also known as Damask rose, Dogrose, Wild rose, Living fence, Rambling rose, Japanese rose, etc. etc. etc.

Parts used:  flowers, hips and in some cases, the leaves and root bark

Meridians/Organs affected:  liver, spleen, kidneys, bladder, colon

Properties:  carminative, stimulant, emmenogogue, antimicrobial, astringent, diuretic, tonic, antibiotic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, sedative, antiscorbutic

Roses have been around since time started, literally.  They are mentioned since man started keeping records, and there are fossils of roses dating back 32 million years.  You can find them referred to by poets of various cultures including Persian, Greek and Chinese.  Dried roses were found buried with King Tut-purportedly put there as a sign of love by his beloved.

Throughout the ages, it has been grown as an ornamental plant valued for its beauty and aroma.  There are very few 'pure' roses.  Most roses today (there are over 16,000 varieties of rose at current) are hybrids, crosses, etc.  One of the most revered roses, the Damask rose, is the principal ancestor to many of the rose varieties.  The Damask rose is said to have appeared in France around the time of the Crusades.  It is the source of the best attar (oil).  The Damask rose only gets about 3 feet in height and ranges in color from pale pink to pure white to a deep red. 

Another great rose of ancient origin is the Provence Rose (also known as Rosa Gallica).  It has deep red blossoms and grows 2-3 feet in height.  Both these varieties of rose (the damask and the provence) bloom but once a year.
One other rose of importance is the Rugosa rose.  This is more of a shrub and it has little tiny fruits (hips) on it in the fall after the flowers have gone.  It can get anywhere from 5-15 feet in height and grows in heated soil, cold, sandy soil, clay soil and in dry or humid climates.  It is a native of China, Korea and Japan and was introduced to this country by the early explorers.  This is the wild rose variety we have all over the United States.
The flowers and leaves shoud be gathered between May and July and the rose hips should be harvested between September and November from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at their most medicinal. 

Throughout time, roses have been the subject of poetry, art, literature, medicine and love.  The Romans and Greeks would adorn their banquet halls with them as it was believed that anything said would be held in the strictest confidence during that time or otherwise (such as war councils, etc).  This is where the term 'sub-rosa' came into being and is still employed by lawyers today.  They would also adorn their young brides with roses as a symbol of love and purity and they would lay wreaths and garlands of roses at Cupid's and Venus' feet in hopes of being blessed with true love.  (Ah, if it were only that easy).  There are stories saying that roses never had thorns until after the Fall of Adam while other stories state that a rose bush was struck by Cupid's arrow making it grow thorns from that point on.  Whatever the reason, the thornless varieties DO NOT contain near the vitamin C of the wild roses.  (It is believed that one rose hip from a wild rose contains between 350-500 mg of vitamin C.  ONE ROSE HIP!)

Each color of rose is supposed to represent something different as well.  Red was for passion and desire, yellow for jealousy or to signify an achievement, pink represented simplicity, happiness and love and white was for purity and innocence.

The dogrose was named such as it was believed in medieval times to cure rabid animal bites.  The Shah Jahan had rose petals put in the canals to celebrate his wedding (his bride was the one that the Taj Mahal was built for).  When the Shah's intended noticed the oil particles floating on the water, she had them collected and used it for a perfume-and thus the perfume industry has used it ever since.

Roses have been used as a culinary, aromatic and medicinal agent for centuries.  The flowers are edible and can be used in salads, syrups, jams, jellies, etc.  They are often crystallized as well for confections.  The flowers are also where the essential oil comes from.  It takes about 2-5 tons o roses to make 1 pound of rose otto or attar of rose essential oil.  You can appreciate the price (highly expensive for real rose oil) knowing how much work is involved.  If you are using rose oil for therapeutic or medicinal/culinary uses, those are the only two oils you want (the rose otto or the attar of rose from damask, provence or rugosa roses).  Any other rose preparation is made with solvents instead of steam distillation and you don't need those chemicals in your body.  Those preparations are best used for aromatic purposes only.

Rose oil has been used to assist in the birthing process by many a midwife.  They have also been used for sore throats, to heal wounds, for coughs, mouth sores, gingivitis, herpes outbreaks, inflammation, congestion, digestive issues, headaches, nausea, vomiting, constipation, menstrual issues, to balance female hormones, for frigidity, impotence, infections, depression, muscle spasms, to calm the nerves and lift the spirits, to reduce stress and tension, to ease tension, for insomnia and to stabilize mood swings.  It has been used ad infinitum for all kinds of skin issues to great effect including wrinkles, mature, dry skin, sensitive skin and for broken capillaries.

The root bark tea has been used for diarrhea, upset stomach and to reduce labor pains during childbirth.  This tea was also used as an eyewash for snow-blindness.

A decoction of the root has been used in hot compresses to reduce swelling and as a gargle for tonsillitis, bleeding of the mouth and sore throat.

Rose petals have been used as an infusion for colic, headaches, heartburn and a host of other maladies. 

The American indians would cook the seeds and ingest them to help with muscle pain.  A poultice of the leaves was used for insect stings and bites.

The Chinese would use the tea to treat intestinal disorders and for worms.

Roses are not just a good source of vitamin C but also a source for vitamins A, B3, D, E, P, K and zinc, as well as a host of other valuable nutritive items.

Wild rose is also one of the Bach flower essences.  This is the essence you give to someone who is apathetic, lacks drive or ambition, who is resigned to their illness or lot in life and has no will power.

Rose is an herb that improves the appetite, thus is good for those suffering from anorexia or an eating disorder.  It helps to harmonize the blood and assist in regular menses.  It also helps to dry up colds and clear up mucus discharges.  Rose hips can help with bed wetting, frequent urination, leucorrhea and spermatorrhea (which are all signs of deficient kidney function).

This powerhouse of nutrition and medicine seems to have been pushed aside over the years for newer things.  It not only deserves a place in your garden but in your kitchen and in your medicine cabinet.  You might be grateful you have it one day.

A word of caution-the inner seeds are not easily palatable as they have small hairs on them.  All members of the rose family have cyanide like compounds in the seeds that can only be destroyed by cooking or drying.  So please be aware of that fact when using them. 

As is customary with my posts I have included some links below that you might find useful and interesting.  Stay strong and healthy!














Also known as wild carrot, bird's nest root and bee's nest plant.

Parts used:  whole plant

Meridians/Organs affected:  kidneys, female reproductive, intestines, bladder, stomach

Properties:  stimulant, diuretic, stomachic, deobstruent, anthelmintic, antimicrobial, hypotensive

Queen Anne's Lace is a tall, slender plant with fern-like leaves an lace-like white flowers that form a flat topped umbel.  They flower from June to September and are self pollinating although they can be insect pollinated as well.  About one in every four plants has a single deep purple flower in the center of the flower cluster referred to as the 'fairy's roost' (don't ask me why as I do not know).  When Queen Anne's Lace goes to seed, the flowers kind of close up into what would resemble a concave bird's nest (no doubt where it got one of it's other names).  The seeds are covered with small barbs that make it more easily dispersed by the animals.  A single plant can produce 4,000 seeds which is why it is easy to see how it can self-propagate with ease.  It can be found in grasslands, meadows, dumps, rock outcroppings, vacant lots, stone walls, railroad tracks that are out of the way and roadsides.  It grows about 2-4 feet in height while its poisonous look alike (hemlock-pictured below) gets much taller (often from 5-8 feet high).  Queen Anne's Lace is also covered in very fine hairs where hemlock is not. 

Originating in North Africa and Eurasia, this plant now can be found in most temperate climates throughout the world.  The seeds of this herb have been used for many years as a "morning-after" contraceptive in European countries.  It has also been used in India to reduce female fertility.  Even Dioscorides wrote of its anti-fertility properties.  The leaf tea also has been used for bladder and kidney stone and often will work when other things do not.  (However, as this plant is a uterus stimulant, please do not take when pregnant and have kidney or bladder stones at the same time...there are better options for pregnant women).  In the same respect, it is used to kill worms and expel them from the system.
There is some debate over Queen Anne's Lace as to whether or not it is related to the domestic garden carrot.  According to Dr. Christopher, the only similarities they share are the leaf and the carrot like scent (which can be gotten by scraping one's nail on the stem/stalk of the plant).  Other sources say that Queen Anne's Lace is the ancient species and the ancestral parent to the current domestic variety.  Yet others say that they are related distantly and can be used interchangeably.  So...my advice would be to use your own judgment.  Get to know the plant well before deciding to use it, often the plants will tell you plenty if you take the time to observe them.
This plant is a biennial.  The first year the fern-like leaves appear, the second year the stalk with the umbel flower clusters form.  Both the leaves and the seeds can be dried and used as seasoning or made into tea.  (Again, not for use when pregnant).  The leaves are best gathered the first year they appear while the seeds are best gathered in the autumn of the second year.  Both the leaves and the seeds are great carminatives helping with stomach issues and flatulence.  The seeds have also been used to decongest the liver and were even considered to be a drug at one point by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (from 1820-1882).  Extracts of the whole plant have been used for cystitis and urinary stones.  The seeds have been shown to help with menstrual isses and to stimulate the uterus.
The root tea has been found to be diuretic in nature and beneficial for gout.  The leaves contain components that interact with the pituitary (the master gland in the body), thus increasing the production of sex hormones.  Wild carrot is a natural antacid (as are domestic carrots) and as such is an interesting alternative for heartburn and gastritis.
Whatever you choose to do with this plant...be sure it is Queen Anne's Lace and not Hemlock as hemlock will kill you in a matter of days. 

As is customary with my posts I am including some links regarding Queen Anne's Lace that you might find interesting.  Use them as you see fit.





CHAMOMILE-Anthemis nobilis (Roman), Matricaria chamomilla (German), Anthemis tinctoria (ox-eye chamomile), Anthemis catula (dog fennel), Matricaria inodora (mayweed)
Also known as Roman chamomile, German chamomile, whig plant, manzanilla and garden chamomile.
Parts used:  flowers
Meridians/Organs affected:  lungs, live and stomach
Properties:  stimulant, tonic, aromatic, bitter, anodyne, emmenogogue, stomachic, antispasmodic, calmative, nervine, diaphoretic, carminative, antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal
Chamomile is a member of the sunflower/daisy family.  There are many varieties of this plant but the most well known are the Roman and German types.
Native to EurAsia, chamomile is now found throughout Europe, Asia, Egypt, North America and parts of Russia.  It has been cultivated all over the world for its medicinal uses.  The domestically raised chamomile often will not get biggerthan eight to nine inches in height while the wild variety can get as large as three feet high.  It is best collected (and at its most medicinal) between July and August from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The ancient Egyptians considered chamomile a sacred plant and would often leave it as a gift to the sun god, Ra, to honor and appease him.  They would also use the oil to massage into their skin to cool fevers and help alleviate any aches and pains, especially those relating to muscle spasms and soreness.  (The Egyptians were WAY ahead of their time in regards to natural medicine).  The Greeks call this plant 'kamai melon' which translated means 'ground apple' .  This is due to the apple-like scent the flower emits.  They (the Greeks) would often use chamomile in poultices and baths to help dissipate issues involving the liver, kidneys and bladder.  It was also usedin this manner for headache relief.  The Spanish refer to chamomile as 'manzanilla' which means 'little apple' . 

The Europeans in the middle ages would put chamomile on their floors so as to make their homes more fragrant, those coming and going would trample the flowers, releasing their sweet scent into the home.  Beatrix Potter even spoke of chamomile in her books on Peter Rabbit, stating that Peter's mother would often give it to him to calm him.  Chamomile tea has often been used for just such a purpose-to calm the system and induce a restful sleep.  It has also been said to reduce or prevent nightmares.  (Something to consider for using for PTSD I should think....)
Chamomile has been used for hundreds of years by herbalists for various maladies including colic, heartburn, loss of appetite, diarrhea, gout, headaches, indigestion and as a diuretic.  It has been used in poultices for pain, swelling and abscesses.  It has been used by many a gardener for its ability to repel insects.  It has often also been referred to as the "plant's physician" as it seems to cure any sick plant it is planted next to.
Chamomile has many members in its species.  There is often some debate over which chamomile is the most medicinal.  The English prefer Roman chamomile which is often referred to as just 'chamomile'.  The Germans would say that the German chamomile is more medicinal due to the azulene content (which turns the oil blue and is not actually IN chamomile but appears through the steam distillation of the german chamomile variety).  Azulene does add medicinal components (it is a natural anti-inflammatory), and many people prefer to use German chamomile for all types of skin infections and diseases including eczema and psoriasis.  t is also the oil thatis most often used in creams and salves for sore muscles and joints, sprains, strains, bruises, inflamed tendons, arthritis and rheumatism.
Interestingly enough, modern European allopathic doctors often prescribe chamomile for the same ailments their herbalist predecessors did.  (Tis a shame more allopathic physicians in this country do not integrate their practices).  In Germany, they use chamomile oil for female disorders, depression, stress, irritability and chronic fatigue.  As chamomile is well known for its mildness, it is often used for children and infants as well.  Mothers of many children have used it to calm hysterical kids, soothe colic and stomachaches, relieve toothaches and teething pain, and ease earache pain and reduce fevers.  It is also purported to help calm hyperactivity.
Modern man has added it to hair care products, lotions, perfumes, etc.  Chamomile seems to not only add shine and silkiness to the hair but also conditions the scalp.  In WWII it was not uncommon to be used in hospitals and doctor's offices as an antiseptic and disinfectant.  In fact, the antiseptic power of chamomile is said to be 120 times greater than sea water or salt water.  The tea has also been used to expel worms in children, for colds, flu, hemorrhoids, asthma, allergies and hay fever.  It is also often combined with ginger for acid indigestion and gas.
Chamomile tea is the most popular tea in the world.  It is also popular as a flavoring agent and is used to flavor vermouth, bitters, desserts, candies and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages.  Chamomile has also been studied for a great many years.  The volatile oils it contains have been found effective against staph, candida and a host of other fungi and bacteria.  These oils are effective for and act upon the liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, uterus and bladder.  The tea also makes an excellent eyewash and has been used to clean open sores and wounds as well as aid in the treatment of gangrene.
DO NOT USE THIS HERB IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO RAGWEED!  Chamomile is in the same family as ragweed and may cause and adverse reaction.  To test for sensitivity, brew some chamomile tea and take a small sip.  If a reaction occurs within 20 minutes (rash or swelling), do not take chamomile in ANY form. 
As with any of my postings I have included several links below to items concerning chamomile.  Please use them as you see fit.