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.
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.
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.
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!