by Kami McBride
Roses have a very long history of medicinal, culinary and magical uses. Like many of our helpful plant friends, they are growing all around us and in many cases we have just forgotten how to use them.
All rose petals are medicinal! Any rose petal can be used as long as it is not sprayed with chemicals. Yes, the pink, red, purple, yellow, gold, white and orange petals from your rose bushes have lots of medicinal and culinary uses. Commercially grown roses sold at the flower shops are cultivated with lots of pesticides, so you don’t want to use them. Look for roses at the farmers market or grow your own organic roses.
The rose is considered the queen of flowers and is used to attract love and ease the woes of the heart. Rose petals sprinkled around the house promote a sense of peace. Roses in the garden attract fairies. Roses are sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. The rose is also sacred to Mother Mary and in Christianity is associated with divine love and heavenly joy.
There are over 10,000 cultivated species of roses and you can use the petals from any of them! There are also many beautiful wild roses. Here in California we have a wild California rose, Rosa californica that you can find along waterways growing from about 1,000 feet sea level to 8,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
There are hundreds of ways to use rose petals. Start by eating them! Chop up your fresh rose petals and put them on your sandwiches and in your salads. Rose petals are high in vitamin C and iron. They are full of bioflavonoids which mean they help to strengthen circulation and tonify the cardiovascular system. Roses are known for their ability to nourish the heart and lift the spirit. They are soothing, calming and help to regulate menstruation. Rose petals are also cooling and can be put in teas and drinks to reduce summer heat.
Rose Petal Tea
2 cups water
2 tablespoons fresh or dried rose petals
Put roses and water into a pot. Turn the stove on low for ten minutes with the lid on the pot. Turn off the heat and let sit for one half hour. Strain the petals from the water and you now have rose petal tea! Add the tea to some lemonade, soda water or just add a little honey to the tea to sweeten it.
A cup of rose tea can help to calm the nerves, fight off a sore throat or cold, open the heart and calm the mind. Rose petal tea can also be used as a mouthwash to help resolve bleeding gums, inflammation and ulcerations in the mouth.
Triple the amount of ingredients in the rose tea recipe and put it in a footbath basin. Soak your feet in the rose tea to draw excessive heat from the body. The rose tea footbath helps relieve heat and inflammation associated with rashes, sun exposure and hot arthritic joints. It can help soothe irritability and anger and has a restorative effect on the nervous system.
Rose Petal Vinegar
1 pint organic apple cider vinegar
2 cups fresh or dried rose petals
Fill a pint jar full of fresh or dried rose petals. Then fill the jar with apple cider vinegar so it covers the rose petals completely. Let the petals soak in the vinegar for three weeks and then strain the petals from the vinegar and discard them. You now have rose petal vinegar that has a shelf life of about one year. It is important not to store it in any container that has metal; the vinegar will eat the metal and destroy your concoction. Put it in a glass jar with a cork or plastic lid.
Rose petal vinegar can be applied topically for lots of ailments. Once again, think of roses as cooling and soothing. Rose vinegar is great for acne, sunburns, strains, sprains, ulcerative skin conditions, cuts, scrapes and insect bites. Apply it to a sunburn. It will sting slightly for about one minute and then it will just draw the extra heat from the body.
Rose petal vinegar is also astringent and antibacterial so it helps to tighten the skin and draw out infection. Put two tablespoons of rose petal vinegar into ½ cup of warm water and gargle with it for sore throats.
Store your rose vinegar in the refrigerator and when you have a headache, put the cool rose vinegar on a washcloth and apply it to the head. When you are not using it to heal your body, you can put your rose vinegar in salad dressings!
As you can see, this time honored flower is a medicine chest in itself. Let the roses be your healer.