The Damask rose, the most recognisable version of the rose flower we’ve become accustomed to, has been used for centuries in perfume, religious ceremonies, to flavour and fragrance food, and even in some forms of medicine. Learn more why rose water is so special.
The word we use when referring to the Rose comes from the Greek ‘Rodos’ and for centuries the Damascus variant has been viewed as a symbol of beauty, happiness, and love. It is even said that the Romans, who used rose petals to scent their wines, collected them with the goddess Venus, the goddess of love.
When tracing back to the origin of rose use as a scent or fragrant water, we are always taken back to what is sometimes called ‘the cradle of humanity’. This term refers to the crescent-shaped region of land which nurses the furthest eastern reaches of the Mediterranean. By tracing the genetic profile within the DNA of the Rosaceae family, evidence indicates the Damascus Rose is a product of the Middle East. Many believe that rose water, otherwise termed “hydrosol” of the rose, was first produced in modern day Iran. However, the fragrant oil and extracts come from within the antiquity of ancient Greece.
Persian physician Avicenna is credited with the invention of effectively extracting rose water from petals of the flower in the early part of the eleventh century.
Nevertheless, it’s thought (but not officially recorded) that the distillation of roses for oil predates this and first found its way into the apothecaries of seventh century Greece before spreading into the provinces of the empire.
Only during the crusades was the distilling of rose water imported into Europe and became a highly profitable source of trade for the Persians. At the time it was already widespread and relatively commonplace in Persia. Its export only assisted in efforts to retain autonomy from European invaders. Even the fruit of the rose bush (the rosehip) was used. Added to a pan of boiling water and left until completely broken down, the rosehip produced a thick and sweet syrup.
Diners oftentimes used the distilled water of the rose to wash and scent the hands in medieval banquettes. And, in Egypt, Greece, China, and India, physicians saw the healing benefits of rose water and thus praised the plant for its remarkable, magical properties.
Based on what we learnt from traditional healing practices and research papers, the health benefits of consuming rose water regularly may be immense. We have highlighted seven key properties below.
“The ancient Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians considered large public rose gardens to be as important as croplands such as orchards and wheat fields.”
1. Rose water soothes skin and eye soreness.
Rose water has got a neutral pH 7. That’s why it is safe to use on any area of the body. It is perfect to hydrate, tone and soothe the skin. Rose water contains a high amount of phenolic compounds that the studies have shown to include anti-inflammatory properties.(1) As a result, rose water may also help alleviate irritation caused by various skin conditions, such as acne, eczema or rosacea.
Moreover, rose water may help reduce eye irritation. Due to its powerful antiseptic properties, you can use rose water to help prevent and treat infections. It is often included in natural medical treatments because of these properties. One study produced quite remarkable findings. Researchers found that when they added the rose water in eyedrops used to treat conjunctivitis, the antiseptic and analgesic properties of rose water helped in treating the ocular disease.(4)
2. Rose water helps support ingestion.
Traditional medicine has used the hydrosol of the rose to treat occasional indigestion and constipation as well as other gastric issues. The Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences in 2011 published a study which showed rose water to fight harmful and damaging organisms while helping ease coughing and throat irritation.(1)
3. Rose water may sort your sore throat.
When we’re suffering from a tickly cough we often receive an antibiotic prescription from the doctor. Next time this happens, consider also using pure rose water. Researchers have recently studied the antibacterial properties of hydrosol and rose oil at the Süleyman Demirel University in Turkey.(1) Although further medical research is needed to provide evidence to back this claim, there are strong anecdotal accounts of it working.
4. Rose water may remedy menstrual pain.
Women have traditionally used rose water to treat menstrual pain.(3) Again, although further research is required, a study published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health found that drinking rose tea may help relieve dysmenorrhea and improve wellbeing in adolescent girls.
5. Rose water may help protect your body cells.
Rose water is full to the brim with nutrients. Both the oil and petal of the rose contain numerous powerful nutrients which act to protect cells from oxidative damage. For instance, Mohammad Hossein Boskabady, et al in their study found that these antioxidants had potential lipid peroxidation inhibitory effects.(1) If you’re wondering what this means, basically, lipid peroxidation is a free radical-mediated chain of reactions that, once initiated, results in an oxidative deterioration of polyunsaturated lipids. The potential to inhibit the peroxidation process means that rose water can limit this breakdown of (polyunsaturated lipids) fats in your body. Cool, right?
6. Rose water reduces scars from cuts and burns.
Wounds and scars often cause us great discomfort in how they make us feel and look. Because rose water has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, applying it may speed up the healing process. The antibacterial properties can help cuts stay clean and to fight off infection.
7. Rose water health benefits on your mood
Finally, rose water may hike up your happiness and help you destress. In aromatherapy, rose water and rose oil have long been used to relax patients, relieve headaches and calm nerves. Its effect on normal blood pressure and regular relaxed breathing was observed and recorded in a study published by the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. It showed exposure to oil promoted these two states, both of which are closely associated with stress. Each study participant who received rose oil described its effects as relaxing and calm inducing.(2)
And, simply by looking at the results of this 2011 study, we can see that rose water may have an antidepressant and anti-anxiety effect on mood. To conclude, you can relax the central nervous system and reduce stress by exposing yourself to the oil of rose petals.
How to use Erbology Rose Water
Inner beauty and roses go hand in hand. We steam distill rose water from petals of the most fertile, organic Damask roses. Pure rose water has got a neutral pH 7 and naturally contains 0.1% essential oil. Not only can you soothe and hydrate your skin with our rose water, you can also drink it. The Erbology Rose Water comes in a convenient 40ml (1.4 fl oz) bottle. This means, each shot naturally contains about a drop of rose oil, which makes it a perfect daily dose. Drink it in one go or add to water, tea, smoothie, salad or dessert. The Erbology Rose Water also comes in a 250ml (8.5 fl oz) bottle. Thus, it’s a perfect family size or a weekly supply.
Rose water recipes
With its beautiful aroma, Erbology Rose Water will charm your senses, hydrate your skin and calm your body. For a perfect drink, simply dilute a few tablespoons or one Rose Water Shot in a glass of water. Not to mention, rose water is also a perfect ingredient for desserts and cocktails.
Want to impress your friends and family? Check out this invigorating Passion fruit and rose water elixir recipe. It combines the sweetness of passion fruit and orange with the refreshing flavour of grapefruit and relaxing aroma of rose water. It’s ideal to serve especially on a warm summer day.
Or, if you’re in the mood for making a dessert, try this wholesome Rose and raspberry vegan cheesecake recipe. To create the crust, we used nutritious hazelnuts and currants. As for the filling, we blended cashew nuts with virgin coconut oil, agave, raspberries and rose water. Simply delicious, oh and guilt-free!
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(1) Boskabady MH, Shafei MN, Saberi Z, Amini S. Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences. 2011;14(4):295-307. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3586833/.
(2) Hongratanaworakit T. Relaxing effect of rose oil on humans. Nat Prod Commun. 2009 Feb;4(2):291-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19370942.
(3) Mohaddese Mahboubi. Rosa damascena as holy ancient herb with novel applications. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4737971/.
(4) Latif Abd, et al. ‘Anti-inflammatory and Antihistaminic Study of a Unani Eye Drop Formulation’. 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3661513/.