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Rose petals treat the heart, nerves and lift the spirits


Rosa centifolia/damascena Rosaceae

Like all Rosaceae family, rose petals have a certain astringency that stops bleeding and reduces inflammation. The Sanskrit ‘Shatapatri’ literally means the ‘hundred petalled’.

  • How does it feel?

    Rose is particularly astringent, which is one of the primary ways in which this herb works within the body. It will tighten and astringe tissues and mucous membranes which makes it particularly helpful for conditions associated with excess fluid production or sweating. Rose has a naturally cooling and anti-inflammatory effect when used internally and externally, making it suited for hot and irritated conditions.

    Rose acts as a nervine, calming and relaxing the nervous system, with a particular impact upon the heart as an organ relieving emotional as well as physical tension.

  • Into the heart of Rose

    The cooling and anti-inflammatory nature of rose has an affinity for the heart and blood. Rose is excellent at clearing excess heat and congestion from the bloodstream and targeting blood based disorders such as those associated with the menstrual cycle and/or the skin.

    This herb’s affinity for the heart means that it will support the organ on both a physical and emotional level, helping to relieve emotional tension, but also tension in the heart muscle itself manifesting as palpitations for example. As a result of this effect, rose can also act as an effective aphrodisiac and also help to boost libido. Rose will open the heart chakra, increasing patience, compassion and love.

    The astringent, drying properties of rose are helpful for conditions associated with fluid accumulation, particularly within the digestive tract where there may be associated heat and inflammation in the case of ulcers and excess acidity.

    Gyanaecology: Rose is indicated in excessive menstrual bleeding, vaginal infections and inflammation. It clears heat from the uterus and blood and is used in dysmenorrhoea, metrorrhagia, endometriosis and fibroids. Its can also help to alleviate PMS symptoms associated with irritability, emotional sensitivity and heat and also enhance libido and fertility. It’s cooling and drying qualities have made rosewater and excellent solution for menopausal hot flushes.

    Nervous: Rose’s nourishing and calming effect on the nervous system make it useful for nervous depression and anxiety, particularly where this is characterised by agitation, palpitations and tension headaches.

    Skin: Roses are used in inflammatory and suppurating skin conditions; eczema, psoriasis, urticaria, itching and irritation. In the form of rosewater, it is excellent for astringing and calming irritated skin.

    GIT: The astringency and cooling effect of rose has made it excellent for the treatment of ulcers, inflammation, acidity, enteritis and heartburn. Its astringency has also made it useful in diarrhoea. Roses can help with fat metabolism and help to reduce blood lipid levels, for example where there are imbalances in cholesterol.

    Reproduction: The calming effect on the emotions and the heart are complemented by the aphrodisiac effect of this plant.

  • Traditional actions


    Aphrodisiac herbs are those that nourish, build and stimulate sexual desire and potency. Examples include Saffron (Crocus sativa) and Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera).


    Astringents contain tannins that act to precipitate proteins and draw tissues together, tightening and toning them to reduce secretions and discharge. Astringents also tend to stop bleeding and can act on tissues with which there is no direct contact. Examples include Raspberry leaf (Rubus ideaus), Lady’s Mantle leaf (Alchemilla vulgaris), Agrimony leaf (Agrimonia eupatoria), Shepherd’s Purse leaf (Capsella bursa-pastoris), Witch Hazel leaf (Hamamelis virginiana) and Yarrow leaf (Achillea millefolium).

    Cholagogues and choleretics

    Cholagogues promote the production of bile in the liver. A cholereticis a type of cholagogue that promotes the release of bile from the gall bladder into the duodenum. Cholagogues have an alterative and laxative effect. Cholagogues are contra-indicated if there is acute liver failure, obstructive jaundice, painful gallstones or cholecystitis. Examples include Celandine leaf (Chelidonium majus), Barberry root (Berberis vulgaris), Dandelion root and leaf (Taraxacum officinalis root), and Blue Flag root (Iris versicolor).


    Hepatics are herbs that generally support liver function by decongesting as well as supporting bile flow. Examples include Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinalis), Yellowdock root (Rumex crispus), Turmeric root (Curcuma longa).


    Laxative herbs are those that stimulate or promote bowel movements. There are different types of herbs; gentle aperients, like dandelion root (taraxacum officinalis), that have a mild effect; bulk-forming laxatives, like Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum), that increase the water and bulk of the stool; stimulant laxatives is Senna leaf (Senna alexandria) that invigorate the muscles of the lower bowel to create a stronger motion.


    Trophorestorative is a substance which has a healing and restorative action on a specific organ or tissue. Nervous system restoratives include oat straw (avena sativa), skullcap (scuttelaria lateriflora) and damiana (turnera diffusa).

  • Did you know?

    A refreshing jam can be made from the rose petals which is often recommended as a cooling spread or addition to a warm drink to cool the system or act as a mild laxative.

Additional information

  • Safety

    It may reduce the absorption of iron.

  • Dosage

    1–10g/day or 5–15ml of a 1:2 in 50% fresh tincture. Drink rosewater freely (5–50ml/day).

  • Traditional energetics

    • Rasa (taste) Bitter, pungent, astringent.
    • Virya (action) Cooling.
    • Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Sweet.
    • Guna (quality) Dry, light.
    • Dosha effect VPK=.
    • Dhatu (tissue) Plasma, blood, nerve, reproductive.
    • Srotas (channels) Female reproductive, circulatory, nervous.
rose illustration
  • Recipe

    A ‘cup of love’ tea

    A blend of flowers bringing you some of nature’s finest love. Drink to soothe a broken heart or feed you when you just want a sip of love.


    • Chamomile flower 3g
    • Limeflower 2g
    • Marigold (calendula) petal 2g
    • Rose flower 1g
    • Lavender flower 1g
    • Licorice root 1g

    This will serve 3 cups of love.


    • Put all of the ingredients in a pot.
    • Add 500ml/18fl oz freshly boiled filtered water.
    • Leave to steep for 10–15 minutes, then strain and let the love flow.

    Brave Heart Tea

    This Brave Heart tea is a therapeutic recipe for nourishing your heart, both the physical and emotional.


    • Hawthorn berry 4g
    • Hawthorn leaf and flower 2g
    • Limeflower 2g
    • Cinnamon bark 2g
    • Motherwort 1g
    • Saffron 5 strands
    • Rose flower 1g
    • Pomegranate juice a glug (or 1 tbsp) per cup

    This will serve 2 cups of a very heartloving tea.


    • Put all of the ingredients in a pot (except for the pomegranate juice).
    • Add 500ml (18fl oz) freshly boiled filtered water. Leave to steep for 10–15 minutes, then strain.
    • Add a glug of pomegranate juice to each cup.

    ‘Let there be joy’ Tea

    Not all of life’s experiences are easy, but this tea will help you digest them with this blend of ‘instant-happiness-herbs’.


    • Lemon balm 3g
    • Limeflower 3g
    • Lavender flower 2g
    • Rosemary leaf 1g
    • St John’s wort flowering top 1g
    • Rose water 1 tsp per cup
    • Honey a dash per cup

    This will serve 2 cups of happiness.


    • Put all of the ingredients in a pot (except for the rose water and honey).
    • Add 500ml (18fl oz) freshly boiled filtered water. Leave to steep for 10–15 minutes, then strain.
    • Add the rose water and honey to taste, then sip for joy.

    These recipes are from Cleanse, Nurture, Restore by Sebastian Pole

An ‘aromatic’ remedy, high in volatile essential oils, was most often associated with calming and sometimes ‘warming’ the digestion. Most kitchen spices and herbs have this quality: they were used both as flavouring and to ease the digestion of sometimes challenging pre-industrial foods. Many aromatics are classed as ‘carminatives’ and are used to reduce colic, bloating and agitated digestion. They also often feature in respiratory remedies for colds, chest and other airway infections. They are also classic calming inhalants and massage oils, and are the basis of aromatherapy for their mental benefits.
Astringent taste
The puckering taste you get with many plants (the most familiar is black tea after being stewed too long, or some red wines) is produced by complex polyphenols such as tannins. Tannins are used in concentrated form (eg from oak bark) to make leather from animal skins. The process of ‘tanning’ involves the coagulation of relatively fluid proteins in living tissues into tight clotted fibres (similar to the process of boiling an egg). Tannins in effect turn exposed surfaces on the body into leather. In the case of the lining of mouth and upper digestive tract this is only temporary as new mucosa are replenished, but in the meantime can calm inflamed or irritated surfaces. In the case of open wounds tannins can be a life-saver – when strong (as in the bark of broadleaved trees) they can seal a damaged surface. One group of tannins, the reddish-brown ‘condensed tannins’ are procyanidins, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
Bitters are a very complex group of phytochemicals that stimulate the bitter receptors in the mouth. They were some of the most valuable remedies in ancient medicine. They were experienced as stimulating appetite and switching on a wide range of key digestive functions, including increasing bile clearance from the liver (as bile is a key factor in bowel health this can be translated into improving bowel functions and the microbiome). Many of these reputations are being supported by new research on the role of bitter receptors in the mouth and elsewhere round the body. Bitters were also seen as ‘cooling’ reducing the intensity of some fevers and inflammatory diseases.
Blue-purple colouring
Any fruits with a blue-purple colouring contain high levels of the polyphenols known as anthocyanins. These work 1) on the walls of small blood vessels, helping to maintain capillary structure to reduce a key stage in inflammation, and improving the microcirculation to the tissues; 2) to improve retinal function and vision; 3) to support connective tissue repair around the body.
Traditional ‘cold’ or cooling’ remedies often contain bitter phytonutrients such a iridoids (gentian), sesiquterpenes (chamomile), anthraquinones (rhubarb root), mucilages (marshmallow), some alkaloids and flavonoids. They tend to influence the digestive system, liver and kidneys. Cooling herbs do just that; they diffuse, drain and clear heat from areas of inflammation, redness and irritation. Sweet, bitter and astringent herbs tend to be cooling.
Traditional ‘hot’ or ‘heating’ remedies, often containing spice ingredients like capsaicin, the gingerols (ginger), piperine (black or long pepper), curcumin (turmeric) or the sulfurous isothiocyanates from mustard, horseradich or wasabi, generate warmth when taken. In modern times this might translate as thermogenic and circulatory stimulant effects. There is evidence of improved tissue blood flow with such remedies: this would lead to a reduction in build-up of metabolites and tissue damage. Heating remedies were used to counter the impact of cold, reducing any symptoms made worse in the cold. .
Mucilages are complex carbohydrate based plant constituents with a slimy or ‘unctuous’ feel especially when chewed or macerated in water. Their effect is due simply to their physical coating exposed surfaces. From prehistory they were most often used as wound remedies for their soothing and healing effects on damaged tissues. Nowadays they are used more for these effects on the digestive lining, from the throat to the stomach, where they can relieve irritation and inflammation such as pharyngitis and gastritis. Some of the prominent mucilaginous remedies like slippery elm, aloe vera and the seaweeds can be used as physical buffers to reduce the harm and pain caused by reflux of excess stomach acid. Mucilages are also widely used to reduce dry coughing. Here the effect seems to be by reflex through embryonic nerve connections: reduced signals from the upper digestive wall appear to translate as reduced activity of airway muscles and increased activity of airway mucus cells. Some seed mucilages, such as in psyllium seed, flaxseed (linseed) or guar bean survive digestion to provide bulking laxative effects in the bowel. These can also reduce rate of absorption of sugar and cholesterol. .
New-mown hay aroma
The familiar country odour of haymaking, of drying grass and other plants, is largely produced by coumarins (originally isolated from tonka beans – in French coumarou) and widely used in perfumery. They are chemically categorised as benzopyrone lactones and are important phytochemicals, with strong antioxidant activity in the laboratory and likely effects in modulating inflammation. They were most often associated with the calming effect linked to their use in stuffing mattresses and pillows and plants, high In coumarins were commonly used for these properties.
Resins are most familiar as tacky discharges from pine trees (and as the substance in amber, and rosin for violin bows). They were most valued however as the basis of ancient commodities like frankincense and myrrh (two of the three gifts of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus) and getting access to their source was one benefit to Solomon for marrying the Queen of Sheba (now Ethiopia). Resins were the original antiseptic remedies, ground and applied as powders or pastes to wounds or inflamed tissues, and were also used for mummification. With alcohol distillation it was found that they could be dissolved in 90% alcohol and in this form they remain a most powerful mouthwash and gargle, for infected sore throats and gum disease. They never attracted much early research interest because they permanently coat expensive glassware! For use in the mouth, gums and throat hey are best combined with concentrated licorice extracts to keep the resins in suspension and add extra soothing properties. It appears that they work both as local antiseptics and by stimulating white blood cell activity under the mucosal surface. They feel extremely effective!
The salty flavour is immediately distinctive. A grain dropped onto the tongue is instantly moistening and a sprinkle on food enkindles digestion. This easily recognisable flavour has its receptors right at the front of the tongue. The salty flavor creates moisture and heat, a sinking and heavy effect which is very grounding for the nervous system and encourages stability. People who are solid and reliable become known as ‘the salt of the earth'.
The sharp taste of some fruits, and almost all unripe fruits, as well as vinegar and fermented foods, is produced by weak acids (the taste is generated by H+ ions from acids stimulating the sour taste buds). Sour taste buds are hard-wired to generate immediate reflex responses elsewhere in the body. Anyone who likes the refreshing taste of lemon or other citrus in the morning will know that one reflex effect is increased saliva production. Other effects are subjective rather than confirmed by research but there is a consistent view that they include increased digestive activity and contraction of the gallbladder.
In the days when most people never tasted sugar, ‘sweetness’ was associated with the taste of basic foods: that of cooked vegetables, cereals and meat. In other words sweet was the quality of nourishment, and ‘tonic’ remedies. Describing a remedy as sweet generally led to that remedy being used in convalescence or recovery from illness. Interestingly, the plant constituents most often found in classic tonics like licorice, ginseng are plant steroids including saponins, which also have a sweet taste.

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