Roses (Rosa spp.)

Rosa spp. (Rose)

There are 100 Rosa species worldwide, with 54 species in North America.

(“Mei Gui Hua” in Chinese, “Satapatri” in Sanskrit)



Rosaceae (Rose family)- 5 petals, 5 sepals, (usually) numerous stamen, several to numerous simple pistils (or united at the base). Oval, serrated, alternate leaves.

Worldwide, about 100 genera and 3000 species. 50 genera in North America.

Rose family produces many edible fruits. Tannins common, giving astringent properties. Cyanide compounds often found in leaves and fruits of some species.


Vitalist Actions and Energetics

Cool and moist (fresh plant), cool and dry (dried plant), vital stimulant, relaxant

Petals: sweet, slightly bitter, warm

Meridians/ organs affected: liver, spleen, heart

Tissues affected: skin, mucous membranes, GI glands, heart, nerves


Clinical Actions

Cardiotonic, nervine tonic, intestinal tonic (Bergner)


Rosa rugosa Petals: carminative, stimulant, emmengagogue, aromatic stomachic, aperient. Dries cold, clear mucous discharges, releives constrictive feelings of the chest and abdomen (stuck liver chi), treats poor appetite, harmonizes blood, and is used for irregular menstruation and pain caused by blood stagnation. (Tierra)


Rosa chinensis petals: promotes blood circulation. Treats painful, delayed, or stopped menses. Add brown sugar when treating stopped or light menses accompanied by pain, emotional tension, and possible constipation. (Tierra)


Rose hips: same properties as vitamin C. Vitamin C effects enhanced by flaonols, with their antioxidant and “Vitamin P”- like effects (helps normalize an increased microvascular permeability and fragility). Mild stomachic, laxative, and diuretic effects. (Diuretic effects attributed to the seeds). (Skenderi)


Rose petals: aromatic, anti-microbial, astringent, anti-inflammatory. (Skenderi)


Any part of any rose can be used to ease headaches, relieve dizziness, nourish the nerves and heart, invigorate the entire being, remedy menstrual cramps, strengthen the bones, and moderate mood and hormonal swings during menopause. Rose hips are an excellent source of flavanoids. (Weed, 48)



Rosa rugosa petals: linalool, L-p-menthene, cyanin, gallic acid, beta-carotene (Tierra)


Rose hips: vitamin C, organic acids (malic and citric acids), flavanoids (mostly quercetin, rutin, kaempferol), pectin, sugars (invert sugar, etc), tannins (proanthocyanidins), carotenoids (carotenes, lutein, etc), etc. (Skenderi)


Rose petals: volatile oil (geraniol, citronellol, eugenol, terpenes, nerol, 2-phenylethanol, etc), tannins, flavanoids (anthocyanins, flavonols), organic acids (quinic acid, etc), etc. (Skenderi)


Hips: vitamins B1, B2, C, E, K, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sulfur, zinc, polyphenols, tannins, pectin, vanillin (Mars)


Common Forms and Dosages


Tincture: 1:2 60% fresh petals. 7song doesn’t use Rose tincture much in his practice. The medicine goes well with a sweet menstruum, such as glycerite or honey. 7song more often gives it as part of an infusion formula.

Oil: folk method infusion of fresh dried petals. Helpful for relaxing massage.

Infusion: standard infusion of dried petals. Works well as a corrigent for various other formulas. The taste is light, flowery, mildly sweet and astringent, and subtle. It takes more roses to get the taste, in a formula.

Standard infusion of dried hips. Sour, tastes well alone or in formulas. Not to be decocted, as the vitamin C loses its potency that way. Super high in vitamin C and antioxidants.

Wash/ soak/ sitz/ bath: with dried petals, essential oil, tincture, or infused oil. Astringent, mildly disinfectant. Useful for boggy tissues, oiliness, and other conditions where astringents are helpful.

Poultice: with crushed up fresh petals. Astringent.

Essential oil: called “Rose attar.””

Properties: mild sedative, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, soothing, comforting, uplifting, regulating, heart tonic, astringent, antiseptic, choleretic, cicatrizant, depurative, hemostatic, hepatic, laxative, appetite regulator, stomachic

Scent: floral, rosy, rich, sweet, warm, tender, tenacious.

Uses: skin care (thread veins, dry, mature, and sensitive skin, wrinkles, eczema, herpes). Circulatory stimulant. Nervous system (depression, impotence, insomnia, frigidity, headache, nervous tension, stress). Reproductive system (irregular menses, leukorrhea, menorrhagia, uterine disorders). (Lawless)

Flower essence: helps move energy through difficult times, while maintaining a positive outlook.

Honey: folk method of covering a jar filled with petals, with honey, then letting sit. Delicious heart medicine.

Glycerite: 1:2 fresh petals to glycerite.

Sugar: also known as rose Gulkand (Ayurveda). Add alternating layers of petals, sugar, petals, sugar... until the jar is filled. Let sit. The sugar will absorb the rose constitutents. Over time, it will turn into syrup. Both the syrup and petals are delicious.

Wine: let the rose sugar sit until it ferments into wine. Or, my mom’s technique: fill a jar with petals, add sugar on top, then fill the jar again with spring water. Let sit, until it ferments into wine.

Rose water: astringent, useful as a skin-care toner, and mild antiseptic astringent for cuts and scrapes. There are two recipes for this in the “others’ formulas” section of this article.

Hydrosol: useful in skin-care/ creme recipes. Gentle sweet rosy scent.

Vinegar: another useful topical astringent.


Historical usage

Native Americans used all parts of the Rosa species. The seeds were cooked and eaten for relief from muscular pains. The roots were used as a general astringent for diarrhea, sore throat, conjunctivitis, and as a syptic. The petals were used as bacteriostatic, protective bandages on burns and minor wounds and to treat colic and heartburn. A leaf poultice was used for insect stings and bites. Rose petal wine was used to ease labor pains, in folklore. (Tilgner)


Roses have been cultivated since antiquity. Sappho, the 6th century BC Greek poet, described the red rose as the “queen of flowers.” It was used in Roman festivities, and eaten as food. Arab physician Avicenna (AD 980-1037) invented the process of distillation, and was the first to distill rosewater. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, rose was used as a depression remedy. The name, “Rose” comes from the Greek “rodon,” which means “red.” In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was said to pierce her foot on a white rose, bleeding onto it and turning it red, while running to save her lover, Adonis. Egyptian Queen Cleopatra bathed in rose water, and used the essential oil of Rose absolut to seduce her Roman lover, Antony. In Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna’s favorite flower was said to be rose. Hindus wash and clean their altars with rose water. In Christian stories, Jesus was said to have worn a crown of rose thorns.


Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the rose bud to alleviate emotional stagnation (especially frustration and resentment), and depression. There are nine Rosa species covered in the Grand Dictionary of Chinese Medicinals. It was first mentioned in the Materia Medica for Food, published in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as sweet, slightly bitter, warm, and non-toxic. It’s said to promote the movement of Chi and relieve constraint in the form of liver-stomach disharmony, with pain and distention in the flanks and epigastrium, belching, and poor appetite. It harmonizes the blood, and disperses stagnation such as irregular menses, pre-menstrual breast tenderness, menstrual pain, and trauma-induced stasis.


“Love is like a rose, and roses are not made within days. Years are needed for full development, and each bloom has a slow unfolding.” (Juliette De Barclay Levy) She used the wild roses that grew in regions where she traveled for medicine.


Roses were used in Mayan tradition after births. A pot of plants, including roses, would be heated as an infusion. The new mother would sit on a chair with a hole in the seat, covered with a cloth from the neck downwards, as the pot of steaming plants was placed underneath her (an elaborate sitz bath). Roses were said to speed the healing process with its anti-inflammatory properties, drawing out excess afterbirth fluids, and soothing the mother’s emotions. After that healing process, rose was used as an aphrodisiac for the new mother.


In Ayurveda, rose is said to balance Sadhaka Pitta, which is the sub-dosha of Pitta. Sadhaka Pitta governs the emotions and their effects on the heart. Roses soothe the heart and emotions, and is gently cooling, stringent, and neutralizing. It further balances the mind, by enhancing the coordination between Sadhaka Pitta and Prana Vata. Prana Vata is the sub-dosha of Vata that governs the brain, chest, respiration, sensory perception, and mind.


Cautions and Contraindications

None reported, when used properly. When drinking rose hip tea or infusion, make sure you strain properly, to filter out the irritating hairs.


Personal Experience


Glycerite- 1:2 fresh petals. Took 30 gtts. Such a strong, sweet taste! Almost burns the back of my throat with its sweetness. Energetics drops downwards. Feel relaxation, and a “sweet” emotion. Colors brighter, feeling gentler. Now is a good time to ask me for a favor.


Honey- Feel expansion of chest, like I can sing, fill myself with breath, embrace the whole world. Chest sensation expands to head. Heady, almost “high” sensation. Feel tingles, wiggly in my fingers and toes. A giddy, giggly, happy teenager high-on-life feeling. Ecstatic, loving, delightful. Sweet taste sticks to the back of my throat. Feels digestive. Feeling in head moved down to jaw. Feel jaw loosening, like I could smile more easily. Uplifted feeling.


Wine- recipe listed above. Made by my Ma from organic home roses, unknown species. Initial feeling of heat, from the alcohol. Feeling of satiation, warmth, nourishment, well-being. Feel heat primarily in the chest area, then spreading downwards and outwards: into the bellies, and out in the extremities. I can feel my cheeks getting pink. I could happily get tipsy in love with this. Soon afterwards, extremities cooled down. Only drank 1 tsp.


Sugar- this sweet rose medicine feels the most gentle. Its smell was strongest, color reddest. Once again, feeling similar feelings as the honey. Chest expansion, small head rush, joy inducing, giddy bringing. Taking this at 10 PM. It’s the final of the three rose sweet medicines that I am taking, after a few minutes interval between each. Felt high, but have now crashed. Am sleepy. Will take a rose oil bath.


Medicine making notes- Remove the rose hip seeds before using them (drying, making jams or infusions, etc). If you don’t, then it is much more difficult to remove afterwards.


Overall Experience


I grew up with rose bushes lining the edges of our front and back yard in southern California. Besides roses, my parents just grew fruit trees, and the usual American lawn of grass. I developed a complex love-hate relationship with this plant, which grew more complex, as the years went on, and I continued to deepen my relationship with plants in general, as an herbalist and amateur botanist. 

I have strong memories of playing soccer as a kid, and screaming with disappointment each time our soccer ball inadvertently landed amongst the thorny rose bushes, almost immediately popping ball after sacred ball. I would often ask my parents, "Why do you grow those things?" woefully presenting them with yet another popped soccer ball. My mom would simply answer, ""They are beautiful, and I love them," and, "Be more careful next time. Don't play around the roses." 


We picked rose flowers when they bloomed in the spring and summers, placing them around the house in colorful, aromatic arrangements. I enjoyed the softness of the petals, the sweetness of the aroma, and the beauty of the bright colors bedecking the house. I remember lying on the grass under the rose bushes on balmy nights, watching the stars, dreaming up stories, and inhaling deeply the rosy perfume wafting mysteriously through the night air. 


When I moved to the northeast, I became intimately familiar with the invasive and ever-present Rosa multiflora, who dogged my steps as I ran barefoot through the forest with my pack of feral student children. We made wild rose chocolates for our spring feast, spoons, hands, and faces covered with chocolate essenced with wild roses that had been strenuously picked and de-seeded by about 2 dozen small, exuberant, and deliciously dirty hands. In the winter, when everything lay silent in different shades of white and grey, only the little red dried rosehips and barberry berries colored the dull landscape. We picked them, placing them in beautiful arrangements for the fairy folk to find. 

In my second summer in Connecticut, I deeply connected with a beautiful herbalist, Lucy Mitchella. We visited a local beach for her yearly Rose collecting party, where thick-petaled pink 
Rosa rugosa bushes vigorously grew out of the stones that stood upon a small peninsula jutting straight into the ocean. We picked bag after bag of petals, intoxicated by the scent of the petals, the smell of the salty ocean, the sound of waves crashing against the shore, and the sunshine infusing the essences of ocean, roses, and summer glee deeply into our beings. Later, as we drove home with a car full of rose petals steeping in the hot sun, we couldn't stop giggling. We stopped for coconut ice-cream, infusing the petals into coconut milk, and mushing the petals into the ice-cream. I remember sitting in the middle of a parking lot with the door wide open, our skirts blowing in the wind, rose aroma wafting out of the doors of Lucy's truck, licking my fingers of sticky rose-infused ice-cream and coconut milk, and just laughing and laughing. 


This to me, is the essence of rose medicine. Pure delight, born of an immediate connection with the world around me. An uncontrollable radiance of womanhood, manhood, humanhood. An opening of previously unidentified inhibitions, releasing into imitable love, joy, and even ecstasy. The feeling of pure beauty, magic, and wonder as a child. The presence of pain, and direct encountering of emotions. Thorns that set clear boundaries that allow for deeper opening, deeper enjoyment, deeper humanity. Deeper, ever deeper. Open my heart wider, ever wider. The sensorial delight of more presence, more perfection, more reality in all its thorns and flowers, suns and seas, and stories that continue to expand through relationship and connection. 


Roses are red, violets are blue. Dear rose species, I love you! 

The easiest way to get some Rose action into your life: pick them, and place them in your room, in a visible and smellable place. Sleep next to them, allowing them to infiltrate your dreams. If you can find or grow organic roses, then try making some of the recipes suggested in this article. It’s easiest to just directly eat the petals on their own, or in sandwiches, salads, and smoothies. It’s also easy to make and enjoy rose honey, rose sugar, and rose wine.


Herbal Pairs

Essential oil: Rose attar absolute blends well with jasmine, orange flower, geranium, bergamot, lavender, clary sage, sandalwood, patchouli, benzoin, chamomile, clove, palmarosa, cacao, vanilla, cinammon (Lawless)


Regardless of client symptoms and constitution, rose is helpful for almost everyone. Many conditions have underlying roots in our emotions. Rose is a gentle loving hug for the nervous system. It complements most formulas. I didn’t find any historical pairs with rose. I think it is because it is often overlooked as a potent medicine. Henriette’s Herbals only notes it as being a “delicious additive” to formulas, without noting roses’s own medicine.


7song used rose a lot at the Ithaca Free Clinic, especially in teas and glycerites. I came to really appreciate this medicine. It is honestly a plant that I would love to put into every medicine that I make, but its flavor is generally weak, and easily overpowered. Thus, I like it as an essential oil (though it is expensive).


Below are some categories and pairs that I feel rose especially shines in:


Rose in nervine/ relaxant formulas, paired with Chamomile, Lavender, Tulsi, St. Johnswort, Kava, etc.

Rose in aphrodisiac formulas, paired with Damiana, Cacao, Vanilla, Ginger, etc.

Rose in female reproductive system formulas, paired with Raspberry leaf, Red Clover, Motherwort, Mugwort, etc.




EarthSong Chai


Decoct for 10 minutes:

- Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) (2)(166 g)

- Astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus) (2) (166 g)

- Cinnamon bark (Cinamomum cassia) (1) (133 g)

- Cardamom whole seed (Amomum castatum) (1) (133 g)

- Cloves whole seed(Syzgium aromaticum) (1) (133 g)

- Ginger dried rhizome (Zingiber officinale) (0.5) (26 g)


Add afterwards, then let simmer for 3 minutes:

- Tulsi leaves (Ocimum sanctum) (2) (348 g)

- Rose petals (Rosa spp.) (2) (348 g)

- Roasted barley, roasted chicory root, roasted dandelion root, or green/ black tea (1) (174 g)

- Cacao powder (Theobroma cacao) (or carob (Ceratonia siliqua)) (0.5) (87 g)

- Black pepper (Piper nigrum) (0.25) (43 g)

- Vanilla bean (Vanilla planifolia) (1/2 to 1 dried bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

- Stevia or honey, to taste



Amounts are noted in parts. Next to the proportions (parts), amounts are listed for a 1000 g jar of dried herbs to decoct, and a 1000 g jar of dried herbs to infuse.



To make 1 L of EarthSong Chai tea, add 14 g each of the decoction (first) and infusion (second) formula to 1 L of water.

Boil 1 L of water, then add 14 g of the decoction formula to decot for 10 minutes at medium heat. Make sure you cover the pot.

Then, add the 14 g of the infusion formula to simmer for another 3 minutes at low heat.

Strain, and drink as desired. Remember to share with your friends and loved ones!



This tea is a delicious, grounding, nourishing, warming, and relaxing sensory celebration. Traditional chai ingredients include black tea (which I prefer to replace with substitutes that are more nourishing, less stimulating, and equally tasty), cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, black pepper, and cloves. Most of these plants are warming circulatory stimulants, digestive stimulants, and anti-inflammatory. Earthy- flavored Chaga complements the taste of the chai, and provides an extra nutritive and immunity boosting underlayer to this multi-layered chai. Cacao and vanilla also complement existing flavors, while providing an extra richness and sweetness that draws out the more subtle flavors. Cacao, rose, and tulsi are “heart medicines” that target the emotional body: releasing anxiety, restoring a delightful sensation of calmness and joyous well-being. They elicit a sense of rich decadence that complements the more excitatory nature of the chai. Astragalus doesn’t have much of a taste, but is partnered with Chaga to boost the immune system in a more gentle way, as a nutritive tonic.


This tea is for everyone! It tends toward warming energetics, but is pretty well-balanced energetically, and offers nutritional and immune support, with an emphasis on increasing one’s sense of well-being and groundedness.



If you are prone to insomnia, then don’t use green/ black tea. You may also consider leaving out cacao powder, if you are super sensitive to stimulants.




- Rose (Rosa spp.) (2)

- Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) (2)

- Oatstraw (Avena sativa) (1)

- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) (1)

- Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) (0.25)

- Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) (a pinch)



Add 28 g of formula to 1 L of water. Let steep for 20 minutes, then strain. You can re-use the strained marc a multitude of times, finally doing an overnight standard infusion, to extract all the last bits of medicine out of it. Drink as often as desired. For one with nervous system and/ or emotional upset, drink after eating dinner, at least 2 hours before sleep. Chamomile and tulsi get bitter in an overnight infusion, which is why I suggest using the formula first, before doing the overnight infusion.



All of the herbs in this formula are relaxing. Rose and tulsi are nervines. Tulsi, chamomile, and lavender are relaxing digestives. Oatstraw is a relaxing nutritive that provides a great anchor (slightly demulcent, and grounding) to the rest of the more flowery tastes in this tea. This tea helps to relax an over-busy or stressed mind, bring quiet presence to the present moment, draw awareness and enjoyment to one’s body, and soothe on all levels: heart, mind, body, and spirit.



If you are sensitive to Chamomile, then do not drink this tea in the morning, as it may be too calming. Also, watch for Asteraceae sensitivities.





- St. Johnswort flowers (Hypericum perforatum) (1)

- Hawthorne flower (Crataegus spp.) (1)

- Motherwort flowers (Leonorus cardiaca) (1)

- Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum cassia) (0.5)

- Ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale) (0.5)



- Rose petal honey or glycerite (Rosa spp.) (3)


Infuse into the above:

- Vanilla (1/2 to 1 bean pod) (Vanillin plannifolia)



Take 30-60 gtts as needed. For times of trouble, carry around this tincture to use on an “as needed” basis, and complement with the SereniTea nightly.


Optional additions

Nutritive immune boosting herbs such as Chaga, Ashwagandha. Nutritive alteratives such as nettles or burdock. Flower essences such as yarrow, chaparral, or white chestnut.



Something sunny and cheerful for those dark days, when everything seems to be going wrong. If it’s for pre-menstrual symptoms, then you can add such female tonic plants, such as Raspberry leaf or red clover flowers, to the tea or tincture. One could also increase the intake of such nourishing plants as Nettles and Oats, in the form of infusions.


If the sadness stems from unknown sources, then I would accompany this tincture with journaling, introspection, and whatever else nourishes you through these times. Increase exercise and whole foods intake, decrease sugary or processed foods, and find someone to talk to, a therapist if need be.


There are four different kinds of flowers in this tincture. Flowers are the reproductive system of plants, full of energy, and bursting with life potential. In this tincture, they lend their joyous celebratory nature to the “sunny” medicine of the formula. The formula is about half rose honey, and half alcoholic tincture mix. It’s a “sweet” medicine, including warming and relaxing vanilla, that opens the spiritual and emotional heart, releases woes, and exposes sunlight into the dark areas of the soul.


I included so much rose honey/ glycerite in the formula, because of rose’s nervine, soothing, relaxing, and sweetening heart qualities. Rose complements sweet flavors very well, as rose is mildly astringent but energetically sweet. They balance each other out in a lovely way, and I always experience such a decadent feeling of self-love and satisfaction, as I ingest any form of rose sweets.


St. Johnswort is famous in this country as an herbal anti-depressant. I include it in this formula partially for that reason, but primarily because the sunny yellow flowers are literally like floral sunshine. Soothing, anti-depressant, and gently joy-inducing, they are perfect married with the similar nature of rose, and heart-opening Hawthorne, and nourishing digestive Motherwort.


Cinnamon and ginger potentiate the formula, bringing a little more circulation into the system, to kickstart some adrenaline and endorphins, and hopefully spark some incentive to go out for some actual sunshine and enlivening exercise.


Enjoy the tincture, but don’t become dependent on it. Allow it to support you, develop tools and techniques that work for you, and then set out on your own.



Resources Cited

Herbal Vade Mecum, Skenderi, pg. 321-322

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Chevallier, pg. 262

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, Gregory Tilford, pg. 162

Planetary Herbology, Tierra, petals pg. 257, 282, hips pg. 343, 130

Actions Database (http://naimh.com/Actions/naimh-actions-database.htm)


Menopausal Years The Wise Woman Way (Susun Weed) p. 48

Aromatherapy (Lawless) p. 204

Healing Herbal Teas (Brigitte Mars) p. 85- 87

Botany in a Day (Thomas Elpel) p. 91

Herbal Healing for Women (Rosemary Gladstar)

http://www.redrootmountain.com/the-rise-of-the-wild-rose-2/123 (Red Root Mountain school)

http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Wild-As-A-Rose.htm (Susun Weed)

A Modern Herbal, by Mrs. M. Grieve (https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/r/roses-18.html)

Rose Magazine (http://www.rosemagazine.com/articles04/roses_love/)