The rose originates from Asia. There are about 250 different species of roses and over 10,000 different hybrid varieties. Although about 30 of these are described as ‘odorata’, only three are commonly distilled for their perfume. These are Damask Rose (Rosa damascena), Cabbage Rose (Rosa centifola) and French Rose (Rosa gallica).
Damask rose in predominately grown in Bulgaria, Turkey, Morocco, India and China, while Cabbage rose is predominately grown in Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, China and Yugoslavia. It has been said that it is the Bulgarian damask rose which produces the finest quality distilled essence, or ‘otto’, most of the rose oil produced in France is extracted by solvents from cabbage rose to produce an absolute. It takes a lot of roses to make just a little oil (about 57kg/120lbs to make 28g/1oz). This explains why rose is one of the most expensive essential oils available.
Psychologically rose has aphrodisiac, relaxing and anti-depressant properties, it soothes the emotions and is often used in cases of anxiety, depression, nervous tension and stress-related disorders. It can be helpful in dealing with anger, anxiety, sadness, disappointment and heartache.
While on the physiological level rose has analgesic, astringent and tonic properties; it can fight infection, reduce inflammation and relieve muscle spasms. Its use could be considered for: all skin types especially acne, dry sensitive skin and mature skin; poor circulation; menstrual problems, menopause and PMS, to aid digestion and regulate bowel movements.
Rose has been used in cosmetics and medicines since the earliest times in fact GattefossÈ; tells us that all ancient pharmacopoeias are full of information on how to use aromatic plants and that the formulae of medicines made from rose would fill volumes. He also says that as rose has astringent, cleansing, stomachic properties it can be used against vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding.
Rose is used as a fragrance component in all kinds of cosmetic products; soaps, creams, perfumes etc. and Middle Eastern cuisine uses rose water (hydrosol) in some dishes. Rose blends well with other florals, all citrus, cedarwood, roman and german chamomile, clary sage, frankincense, neroli, petitgrain and sandalwood. In fact it could be said to blend well with most oils.
Contraindications: Generally considered safe to use.
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 101 Course Notes & Aromatherapy 201 Course Notes, 1999.
Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs, Essential Oil Safety, Churchill Livingstone, London, 1995.
Martin Watt, Plant Aromatics Set 4, Effects on the skin of aromatic extracts, London, 1995.