Next week, millions of roses will be given to loved ones on Valentine's day and I felt it would be a good time to talk about how roses can be used medicinally. Rose is used as an essential oil, flower essence or as rose hips (fruits). In any of these forms, rose is a remedy that opens and softens the heart, both emotionally and physically.
When it comes to remedies for the heart, I don’t think you can separate the physical heart from the emotional heart. I believe that most, if not all, heart conditions have an emotional component. The heart is the emotional brain and the feelings we chronically hold in our hearts have powerful effects on them.
Pleasurable emotions and experiences open the heart. This involves the blood vessels dilating which allows easier blood flow. Painful experiences and unpleasant emotions close the heart, which also has an opposite physical effect. Blood vessels constrict in stress and shock, reducing blood flow. That’s why love is metaphorically considered warm, while bitterness and indifference is cold.
The heart is open and soft when we are in love; it is closed and hard when we are hateful and bitter. You can learn more about this effect of emotions on the heart by watching my free emotional healing class, Love, Relationships and an Open Heart.
Roses can do a lot for a wounded heart, which is why it is fitting to give the gift of roses when you've done something to hurt someone's feelings.
Rose Flower Essence
I started using the California wild rose flower essence from Flower Essence Services in the 1980s. It’s an amazing remedy for helping people recover from the sadness and pain that comes from a loss or betrayal by someone trusted and loved. Rose warms up the heart that is closed to love and has a difficult time trusting or empathizing with others, helping a person to recover from apathy, resignation, and emotional shutdown.
When a person is grieving due to the death of someone close, or a breakup or divorce, I usually give them a blend of California wild rose and bleeding heart flower essences to aid them in processing their grief. If a person feels their suffering is unbearable, something no one else can understand, I use rose, bleeding heart and love-lies-bleeding. When someone is depressed from the loss of heart courage I use rose and borage.
Rose Essential Oil
I also use the essential oil of rose to heal people who have been emotionally wounded. I learned about this in the late 1980s when I took a class on aromatherapy from Hakim Chishti which used his Attar Bazaar perfume oils. One of them was a blend called Arabian Wild Rose. I was supposed to put a drop on the pulse points on my wrists to see how it affected me, but I accidentally spilled it and wound up putting on a lot more.
For the next 24 hours, every time I brought my hands close to my face I could smell that beautiful, light rose fragrance. And, every time I smelled it, it was a sensation like being in love. I just felt this peace and joy in my heart, like all’s right with the world.
When I was teaching emotional healing classes in the late 80s and early 90s I’d pass around these fragrances as I talked about them. The Arabian Wild Rose blend had the same effect on others, but there was also another rose blend from Attar Bazaar that had a much deeper fragrance. It is called Sudanese Black Rose. Most people, including me, didn’t like it, but it turned out that everyone who did like it had deep-seated emotional wounds to the heart, causing their heart to be very closed.
My Rose and Mimosa Blend
When I was looking for rose bushes to plant in my backyard, I went to the nursery to smell the roses. The first one I planted was one of the most delightfully fragrant roses I’ve ever smelled. It’s planted right by the back gate, so I pass it often and love to pause and smell the blossoms. Whenever I do, I feel this sense of peace that makes me feel warm and alive. That effect comes because the pleasure of the smell is opening up the circulation in my heart.
One day, I decided to make an extract of these rose petals. I picked the petals from several blossoms and covered them in glycerin. After a week, I strained out the petals and found I had captured the wonderful smell of these roses in the glycerin extract.
Later, I mixed the rose glycerite with a tincture I had made of mimosa flowers, another remedy that opens the heart, lifting sadness and depression. The resulting remedy was like peace and love in a bottle. It lifted your spirits and gave you a light-hearted, almost elated feeling of peace and joy. I've run out of it, but I'm looking forward to trying to make it again this coming summer.
I personally think that rose hips probably have an action on the heart much like hawthorn. They tone blood capillaries and can be helpful for reducing easy bruising, the tendency to nose bleeds and spider veins. Rose hips are naturally rich in vitamin C, but most of it is lost when the hips are dried. According to Mark Pederson, author of Nutritional Herbology, there’s only about 1/2 milligram of vitamin C per capsule, which means you’d have to take every capsule in a 100 count bottle to get 50 mg. of vitamin C.
The dried hips are still a source of bioflavonoids, tannins, pectins, carotenoids and polyphenols. These all have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, so combining hawthorn and rose hips might be a great tonic for the heart and blood vessels.
Both rose hips and rose essential oil have other healing properties, which I’ll leave for another future article. But, I hope this introduction to roses as a healer for the heart will encourage you to stop and smell the roses next summer