Rose or गुलाब has been inspiration to poets across the world. Rose has been symbolized to love or happiness in life. ‘फूल काटो में खिला था, सेज पर मुरझा गया’ – Rose blossomed in thorns, but dried on (silk) bed – Indian poet metaphorically compares life with rose and inspires to stay up in difficulties. We all know about rose since we first learnt alphabets; R is for Rose. Rose is known for centuries and has been common ornamental plant in our gardens. We appreciate rose for its fragrance, color, beauty and of course its health benefits.
Rose belongs to Rosaceae family flowers that have over 200 species of roses. We also have 100 times as much cultivator form of plants including all hybrid roses. Not all roses have medicinal benefits. R. canina, R. arkansana, R. laevigata, R. gallica var. centifolia, R. damascene, R. rugosa, R. multiflora are some of the medicinal species. Of all the species Rosa damascene, native to middle east, is more popular and priced for its products and health benefits.
History of rose is dated 30 million years ago, as found in fossils found in US. This is very ancient plant and has been cultivated for thousands of years. In Greek mythology roses are symbol for resurrection and associated with Venus – Goddess of love. Rose globally is symbol of affection and happiness. Most Indians start their first night after marriage on bed spread with rose petals. People in Middle east call Rose – Flower of Prophet Mohammed or Gole mohammadi, because they believe its nice aroma reminds them of prophet Mohammad. Rose oil or rose attar was first distilled 1500 years ago in ancient Persia.
Uses of Rose
Rose has various other uses other than being an ornamental flower.
Rose water (ark-e-gulab) – Rose water is considered auspicious and also used in food industry. Rose water sprayed over people attending marriages and religious ceremonies. It is considered to calm people and purify them. Adding rose water to bathtub offers an aromatic bath. Kaaba (God House) in Iran is washed with ark-e-gulab. One can place cotton balls soaked in rose water over eyes to cool them from heat and irritation.
Rose oil / rose attar – Rose parts yields small part of essential oil which has unique aroma. Pure organic rose oil is pale yellow semisolid and rare. Over 400 components in rose oil have been isolated. These contain unique combination of fatty acids and other chemicals, which is difficult to create synthetically. Rose essential oil can be as expensive as Gold. Various medicinal uses and health benefits of rose oil has been found. It is used in aromatherapy to relax body and mind. It has healing properties over insomnia, stress, depression, anxiety, cold, cough, skin problems, menstrual problems, migraine and other allergies.
Rose petals – Both fresh and dried rose petals are most commonly used for eating and other home remedies. It is used in preparing rose petal tea, gulkand, rose jam or rose petal jelly. Superhydrophobic properties of rose petals are area of material research.
Rose Hips – Rose hips are fruits of rose which are commercial used. Its therapeutic use is also very common in traditional medicines.
Other products – Other products include rose petal or hips extract in various solvents. Other rose products include monofloral rose honey, rose wine, rose crystallized petals.
Nutritional Value of Rose petals
Rose petals contain mostly fibers, vitamin C, Vitamin A and other minerals. However the medicinal benefits of rose can be attributed to presence of phytochemcials present. Rose petals contain terpenes, glycosides, flavonoids and anthocyanins which have beneficial effect on health. Compounds like β-citronellol, carboxylic acid, myrcene, nonadecane, quarcetin, geraniol, nerol, Phenethyl alcohol heneicosane and kaempferol are present in rose flowers.
Health benefits of rose petals
Rose petals have been traditionally uses as nerve and muscle relaxant, body coolant, body tonic treat allergies and gastrointestinal problems. It has used in various therapeutic forms including rose petal marmalade or gulkand, rose water, rose petal tea etc. Amongst plethora of benefits of rose petals some benefits are discussed below:
Skin benefits of rose petals
Association of women and rose has been long. Rose has been used by women for beautifying their skin in many ways. Cosmetic industry have been using rose in their beauty products. Rose water and rose oil are traditionally used in skin care and grooming products. Glycerin along with Rose water is used as moisturizer and offer soothing effect to dry and itchy skin.
Rose petals being antioxidant in nature helps protect skin from damage and promotes its growth. It reduces inflammation of skin. It offers soothing and cooling effect to skin and is helpful getting rid of skin irritation. Rose water is astringent in nature. It is used to cleanse skin, get rid of clogged pores and prevent acne and pimples.
Rose Petals for lips – Home made paste can be made from rose petals for your lips. It shall help moisturize your lips and regain pink color naturally. Simplest way is to crush some petals on your lips as lip balm. Dried beetroot and rose petals powder mixed with rose water, can offer light pink shade to your lips naturally.
Rose petals as cooling agent
Rose petals have been traditionally used to cool body. Its aroma helps body relax. Rose water offers cool feeling on skin. Place some rose petals on your eyes, it offers relief from irritating eye. Rose petals can be eaten and helps prevent sunstroke and reduces body heat. Rose water is used to relieve pain and irritation from insect bite.
Positively affect central nervous system
Studies suggest that rose petal extract impact central nervous system. It shows effects such as hypnotic, anticonvulsant, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, analgesic effects, and nerve growth. Various flavonoids are responsible for such effect. It offers body to reduce anxiety and relax body and mind. Rose water and rose oil are effective in treating depression. Alcoholic extract of rose petal helps reduce pain and shows analgesic effect.
Rose has beneficial effect on brain function and helps in treating dementia. Rose extract has shown results in development of neurons, preventing their damage. It is effective in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This can be attributed to the anti-oxidant properties of rose petals and its extract.
Rose and good sleep
Smell of roses is quite relaxing. It reduces anxiety and helps distress body. This helps in inducing sound sleep. It also improves the sleep quality and makes you fresh on waking up.
Rose petals in treatment of seizures and spasm
Various phytochemcials in rose petals have ability to delay and resists convulsions and seizures. Animal studies show that rose petal extract helped in delaying start of epileptic seizures and decrease duration of seizures in drug induced mice. Flavonoids – geraniol and eugenol in rose petals interfere with GABA system in brain and offer antiepileptic effect. Essential oil of rose is used in treatment of refractory seizures in children. Rose extract helps relive muscle spasms, muscle pulls, crams and stomach cramps.
Rose petal benefits in respiratory disorders
Native Indians have been using decoction made from rose root to treat respiratory problems. It is believed that rose petal extract can have relaxing effect on muscles in respiratory tract and provide comfort in respiratory disorders. It is effective in treatment of cold cough, asthma and bronchitis. Its antiviral action helps prevent respiratory tract disorders like cold and cough. Drinking rose petal tea is considered home remedy for cold, cough and sore throat.
Rose petal benefits for cardiovascular system
Animal study suggests that rose petal extract increased heart rate in guinea pigs. Recently glucoside has been isolated from rose petals which can reduce stress on cardiovascular system and enhance circulatory function.
Rose petals and anti-HIV effects
In vitro studies have showed that Kaempferol and its derivatives have ability of inhibiting growth of HIV virus. Study is still nascent however offers potent benefits in treatment of HIV.
Rose petals and treatment of diabetic effect
Rose petal extract have shown anti-diabetic effect and is helpful in treatment of diabetes. Certain components in Rose petals inhibit absorption of sugar in body and helps reduce blood sugar.
Antimicrobial properties of Rose
Rose petals have shown wide range of antimicrobial properties. Its essential oil and rose petal extract shows prevents growth of bacteria. In vitro studies have confirmed antibacterial properties of Rose essential oil on wide spectrum of bacteria. Rose has been traditionally used in treatment of gastrointestinal troubles and infections. Citrenellol, geraniol and nerol in rose essential oil are believed to offer antibacterial properties. Rose oil or Rose petal extract is used in antiseptic lotion to prevent infections.
Rose petal as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Phytochemicals in Rose petals exhibit strong antioxidant properties which have various medicinal uses. Quercetin and kaempferol are known potential antioxidant found in rose petals. It helps in removal of free radicals and protects body cells from damage. Rose petals and other rose extract offer anti-inflammatory effect. It helps reduce inflammation of skin, treat edema and is helpful in relieving arthritis.
Rose petal benefits on GERD
Rose petals have cooling effects in case of hyperacidity and Gastro esophageal reflex disorder (GERD). It reduces symptoms of GERD including heartburn. Rose petal tea is often recommended as home remedy for heartburn.
Rose petals benefit for eye
Rose petals are gentle astringent and antimicrobial in nature, which makes it good for eye washes. Herbal eye drop preparation with various herbs including rose petals are available and have found to be effective. With antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits it is useful for health of eye. Rose water can act as coolant for irritating eye.
Rose on fertility and libido
Rose petals vaginal steam bath may sound exotic (erotic). But rose petals have been used for vaginal steam bath. It has astringent properties and helps relax muscles. Bajos (Spanish) or Chai-yok (Korean) are vagi-steam techniques claimed to increase woman fertility and reproductive system. Rose petals are considered to have aphrodisiac effect and helps in proper functioning of reproductive system, especially for women. Fresh rose petal is believed to increase female libido. It can also help in treating sexual dysfunction or erectile problems. In Ayurveda rose is considered “Vrishya” or strengthening semen and protects sperms from vaginal acidity.
Rose petals offers various other benefits for women. Rose petal and products like rose oil stimulate hormones. It is helpful for women treat menstrual problems and symptoms like nausea, cramps and fatigue. It is also helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms like mood swings, excessive bleeding, etc.
Rose petals as tonic
Rose petal is believed to cleanse body and protect against toxic substance. It helps in secretion of enzymes in body which enables proper digestion. It helps increase immunity and protects against infection. Gulkand or rose petal jam is used as traditional cooling tonic and helps treat fatigue and body ache. Rose petals offer phytochemcials which can help remove worms in children.
As such no side effects of rose petals have been reported. However allergies are occasional. Use rose petal products from known sources as adulteration may occur and may cause ill effects.
Culinary uses of rose petals
Rose petals find its use in various food items. It is not only used to garnish food but also as an ingredient. Some middle east cuisines use rose water and rose petals. Try Persian stuffed dumpling squash with rose petals recipe. Rose milkshake or falooda with tukmaria seeds or rose flavored ice cream are delicious. Use of rose petals in baked products like cake or pasteries is common, as it offers great flavor and appearance to product. Try out this – freeze rose petal pieces into ice cubes and use it in drinks.
How to make Gulkand at home
Rose marmalade or gulkand is great tonic to body and has offers various other health benefits. Gulkand comes from Arabic words Gul (Rose) and Kand(Sugar). It is one of the popular ayurvedic preparations. Rosa damascene makes good gulkand.
Take fresh rose petals. Wash them well and leave them overnight to dry. Mix petals with equal weight of sugar. Add some petals in jar, then place some sugar, and so on. Place the mixture in layered fashion in an airtight jar. Close the jar and place this in sunlight. Shake the mixture without opening the jar daily. Within 10 days of sunlight cooking, traditional authentic Gulkand or rose marmalade is ready. Store this in refrigerator and enjoy gulkand health benefits. You can use this in various food recipes. Search for more gulkand recipes.
Healthy Rose petal recipes
Rose petal jelly – Boil 2 cups of rose petals with around 2 cups of water for 15-20 min. This shall leave water with color and fragrance of rose. Sieve the petals and separate water. Add 400 gram of sugar and 2 tsp lemon juice and bring water to boil. Stir continuously for 5 minutes at boiling point. Add 250 ml of liquid pectin and continue to boil for further 5-10 minutes. Allow the water to cool and pour jelly fluid in clean jars and refrigerate.
Rose Petal Tea Recipe – Benefits of rose petal tea includes its ability to detoxify body, cure cold and other respiratory disorders, help blood circulation and treat gastro intestinal problems. To make rose petal tea either dried or fresh rose petals can be used. It is very similar to making any herbal tea. Boil rose petals in water till the water reduces to half. Add some honey, lemon and cinnamon for taste once the fluid cools down. Also try out Rose Petal Iced Tea, by serving the tea chilled with ice.
Rose stem tea – Like rose petal tea, rose stem tea also offers various benefits. Phytonutrient profile in rose stem is bit different than in rose petals. However it offers benefits to increase immunity and reliving pain and inflammation in body.
Rose sherbet – You can keep this rose sherbet concentrate ready. Add a cup of rose petals in 2 cups of water. Add 2-3 clove pieces. Bring to boil. Sieve out rose petals, and boil the liquid again. Now add a cup of sugar to make pink colored rose concentrate. You can store this in refrigerator. At the time of serving, mix 1 part of this concentrate with 4 parts of water and serve chilled with ice cubes. This rose sherbet is refreshing.Image Credits: Flickr - Evangelio Gonzalez, Flickr - Emilie Hardman, Wikimedia - Rameshng