Rose petals: 6 things you must know about health and beauty effects

Rose petals are more than beautiful leaves

Rose petals: beautiful and healthy

Roses are considered a sign of love. But the intensely fragrant flowers are more than just beautiful: some species are also good for our health. Their blossoms contain valuable substances and are an integral part of natural medicine and cosmetics. As a natural product like coconut oil they have many purposes. We have compiled an overview of the ingredients and applications of roses.

Rose petals can be taken from all rose flowers
Rose petals can be taken from all rose flowers

Roses are the favorites of many gardeners because they exist in the most diverse forms and colors. However, only a few species are interesting for their use in herbal medicine. They include the Damask rose (Rosa damascena), the vinegar rose (Rosa gallica), and the cabbage rose (Rosa centifolia). Their leaves are usually dried or processed into essential oils, but they can also be used freshly plucked.

All rose varieties are edible and can be made into flowery treats. However, strongly scented varieties have more aromatic substances than less fragrant ones. Old roses such as the Damascene rose (rosa damascena) or the centifolia rose (rosa centifolia) and wild roses such as the widespread potato rose (rosa rugosa), the vinegar rose (rosa gallica), or the dog rose (rosa canina) are particularly recommended. Although each rose has a typical smell and taste regardless of the variety, some differ significantly from each other. The best way to determine which rose is most enticing to your nose and palate is to sniff and taste for yourself.

You should not use roses that have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals for consumption and preferably leave them for visual enjoyment.

To dry roses, hang a bouquet of opened rose heads upside down in a dark, airy place for several days. To preserve individual blossoms and petals, spread them out on a rack or baking sheet and then let them air dry for several days.

What is in the rose petals?

Rose petals contain many secondary plant compounds. They support the immune defenses of the plant and protect it from harmful environmental influences. In humans, they can also have a positive effect on health. However, research does not yet know precisely how the substances do this.

Rose petals are a symbol of love, but can also have a spiritual meaning.
Rose petals are a symbol of love, but can also have a spiritual meaning.

The secondary plant substances include the so-called anthocyanins. These are pigments that give rose blossoms their splendor of color. The red, yellow, or pink flowers thus attract pollinator insects. At the same time, anthocyanins also have an antioxidant effect. They bind and neutralize free radicals, which could otherwise damage the cells of the rose. They can also protect cells in the human organism.

Other plant substances are geraniol and nerol, so-called monoterpenes. They penetrate the cells of harmful fungi or bacteria and inhibit their growth or kill them completely. Thus, they protect flowers from pathogens. In humans, these substances can relieve inflammation. They also have an antispasmodic effect and can help against insect bites.

Rose petals also contain tannins. These protect the rose from pathogens and decay and at the same time support it in healing processes. In the human body, they can have an anti-inflammatory effect. If the tannins reach human mucous membranes, they combine with the proteins located there. These contract and a kind of protective shell is formed. Bacteria and other pathogens then have difficulty penetrating the body through the mucous membrane. This also allows the mucous membranes to recover more quickly from injuries or inflammations.

How to use rose petals

You can use freshly plucked rose petals, for example, for puffy eyes. To do this, place a few fresh petals on your closed eyes for about ten minutes. The fresh flowers also serve as a bath additive and can relieve mild foot and back pain because of their antispasmodic agents.

For both unprocessed rose petals and other products, you should always look for an organic seal or certification. This guarantees that the rose has not been sprayed with harmful pesticides.

Rose petal tea

Tea with rose petals contains a lot of tannins and thus can help with minor inflammations and injuries. It is mainly used for ailments of the mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract ─ in other words, anywhere where there are mucous membranes. For sore throats, sage leaves can further enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of rose petals. You can also cool down the tea and drink it with ice, like many protein shakes, as a supplement to your diet.

Please note: long-term and excessive consumption of tannins can cause nausea and stomach pain. They can also inhibit the absorption of iron and other minerals. Therefore, it is recommended not to drink rose petal tea too often and only in small quantities.

Essential oils from rose blossoms

Processes such as steam distillation extract the fragrance and active ingredients from rose flowers and bind them into essential oils. Rose petal essential oil can be used in a variety of ways. Aromatherapy uses it to enhance the well-being of patients. When smelling, the ingredients reach the nasal receptors. These then send signals to the limbic system in the brain, and in the process, can evoke positive emotions. Patients often feel less stressed and at the same time happy when they smell rose petal oil. Incidentally, a study on rodents has shown that the active ingredients even alleviate mild depression. Whether this also works in humans, however, is still unclear.

Essential oil from rose petals has a relaxing effect as a bath additive but can also relieve external inflammation or insect bites. Important: Before use, always mix with water or so-called carrier oils (for example, almond oil). Applied pure, it can cause allergic reactions such as reddening of the skin.

Natural cosmetics from rose petals

Many natural skincare products contain rose oil, which is usually extracted from wild roses or damask roses. Because of its antioxidant ingredients, it can protect skin cells from free radicals, keeping skin healthy. Products with rose oil are often advertised as “anti-aging miracles” that are supposed to slow down skin aging and prevent wrinkles. Whether this actually works is questionable because: There are many negative factors that affect the skin, and not all of them can be compensated by skincare products. With regular use, however, natural cosmetics containing rose oil can at least smooth out small wrinkles.

We recommend testing the product beforehand on a spot on your arm or hand. This is because natural cosmetics can also cause allergies and reactions such as itching, redness, or swelling, especially on the face.

Roses in the kitchen

From rose petals, you can also conjure up delicious delicacies such as jelly, liqueur, or candied petals.

Recipe for homemade rose jelly

You will need:

  • 25 unsprayed rose petals, red or pink
  • 1.2 liters of water
  • 1 kg gelling sugar 2:1
  • 2 lemons

Pluck the petals from the calyxes and place them in a pot of hot water. Bring to the boil for about 5 minutes and let it rest overnight.

Pour the decoction through a fine sieve.

Squeeze the lemons. Boil the juice together with the rose water and the sugar according to the package instructions and fill it into sterile jars.

A different kind of scented bag 

These scented muffin bags are a welcome guest in the closet and are also great to give away to a dear friend.

Here’s how: Line a muffin tray with paper cups or baking paper cutouts. Mix two cups of baking soda with half a cup of water and spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cups. Cover with baking paper and let the rose-scented muffins set in the oven at 250 degrees. When cool, drizzle each with four drops of rose essential oil and sprinkle with dried petals. 

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