Botanical Name: Rosa damascena
Parts Used: flowers
Energetics: Bitter, pungent, astringent
Dosha Compatibility: Vata, Pitta, Kapha (can increase kapha or Ama in excess)
Ways to use it: Powder, Botanical Water, hot or cold infusions, as a jam/preserve
The two most popular varieties of roses are Rosa centifolia and Rosa Damascena.
Rosa damascena, is more commonly known as the Damask rose, or sometimes as Bulgarian rose, Turkish rose, Taif rose, Arab rose, and Castile rose. It is a rose hybrid, derived from Rosa gallica and Rosa moschata . So this flower is a cultivated plant and not grown in the wild.
The flowers are renowned for their fine fragrance, and are commercially harvested for rose oil used in perfumery and to make rose water and “rose concrete”. The flower petals are also edible. They may be used to flavor food, as a garnish, as an herbal tea, and preserved in sugar as the Indian Gulkand.
The Damask rose is a deciduous shrub growing to 2.2 metres (7 ft 3 in) tall, the stems densely armed with stout, curved prickles and stiff bristles. The leaves are pinnate, with five (rarely seven) leaflets. The roses are a light to moderate pink to light red. The relatively small flowers grow in groups. The bush has an informal shape. It is considered an important type of Old Rose, and also important for its prominent place in the pedigree of many other types.
For centuries, the Damask rose has symbolized beauty and love. The fragrance of the rose has been captured and preserved in the form of rose water by a method that can be traced to ancient times in the Middle East and later to the Indian subcontinent.
The major countries where this rose is grown are Iran, France, Bulgaria, Turkey and India.
Ayurveda ascribes a multitude of benefits to the rose plant.
Here are some of the benefits of the rose for the
Mind and Soul
Mood Enhancer: Rose is said to have a “somnasya jana” or a bliss enhancing property in its aroma. This fragrance of the rose produces antidepressant, analgesic and anti-anxiety on us. It is probably why we must make the time to stop and smell the roses!
Calming agent: Topical application or inhalation of the fragrance can calm the nerves. It also helps to induce mental and physical relaxation. This is one of the reasons why in many religious ceremonies around the world, rose water is used as a spray on people to help calm everyone down.
Emotional Balance: Fresh rose flowers are known to produce a sedative effect. ”Sadhaka Pitta” is a sub dosha of the Pitta dosha and it governs our emotions and how it impacts our heart. Prana vata is a sub dosha of the Vata dosha and that governs the mind, breath, respiratory channels, lung and throat. Rose helps better communication better communication between the sadhaka pitta and prana vata helping us deal with emotions and past griefs better and allowing us to move on. Rose oil heals depression, grief, nervous stress and tension. Rose petals can be used all the year round to help balance the sadhaka pitta.
Enhances brain health: Rose petals are said to be ‘medhya ‘– which means it enhances the three primary functions of registering, storing and recalling knowledge and information. When the three are operating in a balanced and co-ordinated manner the brain is in a stress free state.
Cooling effect: The rose has been used for centuries to cool the body down,especially in the warm summers. Did you know it helps to cool the skin but also the blood which can help prevent some skin issues like acne and rashes if used everyday.
Digestion: While it is known for its cooling effect, it also kindles agni, which in turn facilitates digestion. Due to its deepan-pachan – appetiser/digestive properties it helps to digest toxins and throw them out which in turn helps to improve metabolism and lose weight.
Balancing hormones: Rose is also said to balance hormones, especially in women. Gulkand – the Indian rose preserve is often used when women have menstrual issues in combination with other herbs
Eyes: Since the eyes are considered to be the seat of the pitta dosha and rose is used to calm down the pitta dosha, Pure rose water with no additives,fragrances and synthetics in distilled water only can help to reduce redness and inflammation in eyes. Dry eyes, tired and fatigued eyes can benefit using rose water as an eye wash at the end of the day or the beginning as a fresh start to it.
We probably do not have sufficient space or words to list these down. It would suffice to say that a good Rose water in the least is a requirement in your beauty cabinet. Here are a few benefits,
Cleanser: Regular use of rose water refreshes the skin and keeps it healthy. It has strong anti-bacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. The astringent properties of the rose help to take off toxins, dirt and excess oils in the skin. It helps calm aggravated pitta and helps to reduce redness and acne when used on a regular basis.
It is also very good to take off the small and fine particles of dust and/or make up at the end of each day.
Toner: Rose water can be used by all skin types. It is an effective natural skin toner due to its astringent properties but also hydrates the skin well. It helps to unclog blocked pores and tighten open pores effectively. Regular use of rose water on the skin improves the skin tone with visible effect.
Anti-aging: It is a rich source of anti-oxidants and vitamins A, B3, C, D and E7, which help remove free radicals and prevent cell damage. This leads to the reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Dry Hair: Rose water can be also be combined with your favorite hair mask as it hydrates the scalp and helps with dry hair.
It is little wonder that amongst 400,000 and more species of flowers in the world, the rose still rules over our heart -quite literally. As with everything else, make sure you use good quality products and in the right way to get the best benefits.
Best ways to use Rose
Rose Petal Spread /Gulkand: Rose is great for Vata and Pitta doshas. It should be used in much smaller quantities by the Kapha doshas. It can be used as a coolant all through the warmer months or when pitta is high to cool the body down. It can also be used for menstrual issues incombination with other herbs as well as a carminative and a digestive aid- however, it is best used this way with the advice of an Ayurvedic practitioner for optimum benefits.
Gulkand can be eaten as is, added to your drinks or used as a spread instead of a jam.
Rose Powder: Rose powder is also often used to help with acidity. It is best used in consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner. Rose Powder made with dried rose petals is a stronger form of rose in comparison to fresh petals.
Rose Petal powder is very handy to have on hand as an addition to face and hair masks.
Rose Water: Use rose water with your regular face scrub or Bloom. We generally suggest you use rose water before and after as a toner while using Bloom/your regular face mask.
1.Early each morning, dip a muslin cloth in some warm water. Spritz some rose water onto your face. Dab the face gently with the muslin cloth very gently wiping off accumulated toxins and sebum.
2.Wash your eyes with Rose water. In an eye cup pour in some rose water. Cup the eyes, blink a few times- feel the coolness and let the rose water wash the eye. Throw the water. Repeat for the other eye.
This can also be done anytime you feel your eyes are dry and tired.
Rose Oil is also used for its fragrance and other therapeutic benefits. Did you know that ‘Cold cream ‘was originally known as ‘ointment of rose water’ because it contained rose oil and rose water?
With all of these benefits, how can one not see life through rose tinted glasses?
Please write to us if you have any questions or consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner especially before consuming a product for a longer period of time. Also remember that while the rose by any other name will smell as sweet, roses with many other names may not have the same effect. Make sure you have the right rose!
7. Frawley,David and Vasant Lad,The Yoga of Herbs.Lotus Press,Twin Lakes,Wisconsin;2001.