Herb of the month: Rose
The botanical family of rosacea is a favorite of herbalists and gardeners alike and includes a plethora of our healing wild and domestic plants including rose (of course!), meadowsweet, Lady’s mantle, hawthorn, blackberry/ bramble, apple and strawberry. This month the rose family is offering up their gifts in glorious flower with some of the first fruits of strawberry delighting us and the apples ripening on the branch.
A Healing Medicine
Rose has been used as a healing medicine through the mists of time. Her flower petals are a potent nervine which means they support efficient functioning of the nervous system. Simply smelling a rose can immediately soothe and calm the mind and the spirit. Hildegard of Bingen, a medieval nun and herbalist from Germany, believed that rose made all medicine more potent and rose was burned in surgeries to keep the air disinfected.
Rose influences the heart, both the physical aspects of the heart as well as emotional aspects. It is a wonderful ally to work with when dealing with grief as it will support the heart while allow the natural and essential process of grieving. Combining rose with hawthorn leaf, flower or berry can ease heart palpitations and angina. Always consult with your GP before using herbs.
Drinking a cup of rose petal tea is sublime. Make a sun tea with the petals then add some tiny strawberries for a refreshing summer treat.
Rose is glorious for the skin as well, having emollient/hydrating and tonifying/astringent properties. Using a little rose-infused oil as a facial serum will create a vibrant glow and ease fine lines. Lathering it all over your body will make you feel wrapped in Nature’s beauty.
With the profusion of roses in gardens and in the hedgerows, July is the perfect time to make a rose-infused oil. Please ensure you use only non-sprayed roses and do no use roses bought in the shops as they are highly sprayed.
Gather a bunch of roses and remove the stem and stamens, keeping only the petals. Make sure no little critters are caught in the petals and allow the petals to dry overnight.
Fill a clear glass jar with the petals and pour olive oil over the petals until completely submerged.
Cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth, muslin or a paper towel and place in a sunny window for 2 to 3 weeks. The natural oils from the petals will infuse into the olive oil.
Strain out the petals and bottle the rose oil. Use lightly as a facial serum (2-3 drops patted gently over the skin) or generously as a body or bath oil. Essential oil can be added (approximately 10 drops per ounce).