Not All Roses Are The Same.
Some say that one should never use garden hybrid roses for medicinal purposes. And, that there are more than 300 active compounds present in roses, of which only about 100 have been identified. All I know is that medicinal preparations from any rose can have strong and immediate effects on some people, especially women.
The good witch or experienced herbalist will try to find a true wild rose for medicinal use. There are many species of wild rose, but they are all easy to identify. Every wild rose has exactly five petals, and almost all of them are pink shading to white. They also tend to be leggy and straggling in form, extremely hardy, and likely to thrive on total neglect. There are also some ‘nearly wild’ roses which are just as good as the true wild rose for the herbalist, but are much more suitable for the average garden.
Here in England the good witch or experienced herbalist will preferentially use the true wild rose, the dog rose, rosa canina, for medicinal purposes. The thing is, unless you have a huge estate, you’re not going to plant this vigourous thing. Luckily it does grow wild all over in England, especially in mature hedgerows.
However, if one has a largish garden one can plant the Japanese wild rose, rosa rugosa instead. This is still a very strong growing shrub, but it’s more manageable than the dog rose, and you still get great hips.
Another great medicinal rose is the aptly named apothecary’s rose, rosa gallica. This is another wild rose, basically from France.
In North America there are dozens of species of wild rose, all of which have been used by Native American tribes in medicine and magic. In addition, many other species roses have naturalised into the American landscape, so sometimes it’s difficult to know which is a true American wild rose, and which is an introduction. It doesn’t really matter. If a rose has five petals and is pink or shading to white, then it’s a good medicinal plant.
However, if you are growing an apothecary’s garden, a herb garden, or a medicine garden, then perhaps the rose nearly wild in whatever variety you can find it would be your best choice. It’s compact, has a long flowering season, and is close enough to the species wild rose to be ideal as a medicinal plant. This rose is also readily available from specialist rose nurseries all over the world.
Almost every part of the rose has therapeutic uses. The petals can be used to make rose petal tea or an unusual scented jam, or rose water hydrosol, or what about a rose, cardamom, and ginger body soak? The rose hips can be added to organic cider vinegar to make a great salad dressing / tonic, and the leaves make a kind of substitute coffee. If you dry the leaves you can smoke them ~ and I have no idea what that’s like.
The main active effects of rose preparations are; laxative, opthalmic, diuretic, and linthontriptic, (removes kidney stones). There are many benefits of using the rose as a medicinal plant, and some potential downsides. Some people feel ill after ingesting rose medicines / tea, and some people feel mild hallucinogenic effects. As I have already said, there are at least 300 active compounds in the rose and we only know what about 100 of them are, let alone what they actually do ~ weird.
If in doubt of any herbal preparation, then try just a little, in a very diluted form ~ especially if you are a woman. And if you are either pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, then take specialist advice from your doctor or an expert herbalist before using any herbal / medicinal plant product.
Aphrodite’s Herbalist, jack collier