ROSE ESSENTIAL OIL by Patricia Ambroziak, Certified Aromatherapist
Best known for their ornamental flowers roses adorn many garden landscapes with their vibrant colors and intoxicating fragrance. Roses top the list as one of the most popular flowers for weddings, Valentine’s Day, and mother’s day. And in addition to their beauty roses offer tremendous benefits to the body, mind, and spirit when used aromatically.
Before roses were cultivated for gardens, bouquets, and perfumes they were held in esteem for food and medicinal purposes. Rosa chinensis has a long history for use in traditional Chinese medicine for stomach problems.1 In the Pacific Northwest native people would gather regional roses for both nutritive and medicinal purposes, using rose hips and leaves in teas and poultices.2
Aromatherapists and essential oil enthusiasts continue to treasure roses for their therapeutic benefits, using absolutes, essential oils, and hydrosols for healthy skin, mood support, and a variety of other benefits.
Although there are hundreds of species of roses and thousands of cultivars, Rosa damascene and Rosa centifolia are the two major species used to produce rose extracts.
To create an absolute a solvent is used to extract the aromatic components from rose petals, the solvent is evaporated or removed, and the rose oil remains.
This type of extraction is often used with fragile petals and produces an aroma more exactly matching a flower’s actual scent.
To produce the essential oil or rose otto hundreds of thousands of petals are steam distilled and the rose oil is separated from the steam and water portions as the volatile aromatic oils are liberated from the petals by heating.
Hydrosol is a water portion from steam distillation that contains water-soluble molecules and is also wonderfully therapeutic. Hydrosols are very gentle and can be used directly on the skin.
Rose essential oil and absolute takes a tremendous amount of plant material to make. It may take anywhere from thirty to fifty roses to produce a single drop of rose absolute and hundreds of thousands of petals to produce a single batch of rose essential oil. So a single drop is exquisitely potent and precious.
What are the therapeutic benefits of rose extracts?
Rose absolute (Rosa damascene) is rich in 2-phenylethel alcohol, citronellol, geraniol, and eicosane. Rose essential oil boasts citronellol, geraniol, and nerol as well as nonadecane.
The 2-phenylethel alcohol contributes anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant actions for skin soothing benfits.3 Rose oil has been shown to stimulate keratinocyte differentiation and helped reinforce skin barrier function.4
Geraniol and citronellol offer anti-inflamatory and antioxidant benfits as well, in addition to offering antimicrobial support. Citronellol has been shown to act as a CNS depressant that manifests itself as hypotensive and reduces feelings of anxiety.5,6
Rose also offers analgesic7 and antispasmodic8 properties and may help with supporting women’s issues.
So what does all this chemistry mean? Aromatic use of rose absolute, hydrosol, and essential oil can boost mood, help one to relax, combat microbes, and soothe and balance the mind and body. On the skin diluted rose oil or hydrosol can help rejuvenate dry, mature skin, and is beneficial for most all skin types. Rose is also harmonizing and sensual, symbolic of love and beauty, leaving the user feeling more balanced and refreshed.
Just as roses delight us in gardens, bouquets, and in perfumes using rose absolute, essential oil, and hydrosol offer great benefit and balance to the mind, body, and spirit. From beautifying the skin to uplifting and calming the spirit rose never fails to delight.
3. De Cássia da Silveira e Sá, R., Andrade, L.N., de Oliveira, R. and de Sousa, D.P. (2014) A review on anti-inflammatory activity of phenylpropanoids found in essential oils. Molecules 19, 1459-1480. doi: 10.3390/molecules19021459
4. Casetti, F., Wölfle, U., Gehring, W. and Schempp, C.M. (2011) Dermocosmetics for dry skin: a new role for botanical extracts. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 24, 6, 289-293.
5. deSousa DP, et al (2006) Study of anticonvulsant effect of citronellol, a monoterpene alcohol, in rodents. Neuroscience Letters 401 (3):321-235
6. Aoshima H, Hamamoto K (1999) Potentiation of GABAA receptors expresses in Xenopus oocytes by perfume and phytoncid. Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry 63(4):743-748
7. Hosseini, M., Rakhsandah, H., Shafieenic, R. and Dolati, K. (2003) Analgesic effect of Rosa damascena on mice. In: Abstract Book of 16th Iranian Congress of Physiology and Pharmacology. Cited by Boskabady, M.H., Kiani, S. and Rakhshandah, H. (2006) Relaxant effects of Rosa damascena on guinea pig tracheal chains and its possible mechanism(s). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 106, 377-382.
8. Boskabadi, M.H., Kiani, S. and Rakhshandah, H. (2006) Relaxant effects of Rosa damascena on guinea pig tracheal chains and its possible mechanism(s). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 106, 377-382.