Of all the flowers, methinks a rose is best. 
The Two Noble Kinsmen by John Fletcher and William Shakespeare

Although most famous as a beautiful flower and for it’s fragrant scent, rose is used extensively in herbal medicine. She lifts the spirits, helps to heal grief, pain and suffering. She also modulates our hormones. Researchers have confirmed that Rosa damascena (damask rose) is antimicrobial, an antioxidant, pain relieving, anti-inflammatory, regulates blood sugar in diabetics and an antidepressant.

Historical Use


Although now mostly produced in Bulgaria, Morocco and Turkey, the essential oil has been extracted from the flower of the damask rose in Iran since 7AD. The flowers are hand picked every morning and used immediately in order to preserve the fragrance created from the delicate volatile oils. Avicenna extracted the essential oil from damask rose and used it for a variety of conditions such as pain and spasm (particularly in the chest and abdomen), as a gentle laxative and as a cardiotonic to strengthen the heart. It was also used as an antiseptic wash for the eyes and mouth.

Broad spectrum antimicrobial

Researchers have confirmed that rose petal tincture, essential oil and aromatic water have a far reach when it comes to overcoming harmful bacteria. It has been shown to interrupt the reproductive cycle of HIV and to inhibit a number of different strains of bacteria including Candida albicans, Pseudomonas fluorescens and aeruginosa; E. coli and Salmonella typhimurium. So it can help overcome a number of culprits responsible for some pretty nasty digestive upsets which can be tricky to eradicate.

Roses are easy to grow

I grow Rosa damascena in my garden in Carterton and at the Empire Hotel in Featherston. It likes the Wairarapa and the smell is divine.

Tracy Tutty
Tracy Tutty, Medical Herbalist and High Performance Coach

I use an Alembic Copper Still to extract the delicate volatile oils from the rose petals into a rose aromatic water. In addition to using it internally with my patients (mainly in relation to hormonal and nervous system conditions), it makes a luxurious facial toner and is effective sprayed on the face, chest and wrist points when you get a hot flash.

You can take the flower petals as a tea or tincture (25% alcohol by volume). It also makes a great infused oil but use a light oil as your carrier oil so you don’t mask the delicate fragrance.

Relaxing rose

Rose can be helpful when you have a cough that keeps you awake at night as it relaxes the broncioles, encouraging them to remain open (letting more air into the airway) and helping the smooth muscle of the trachea to relax. It also reduces the urge to cough.

It’s use as an antidepressant is well documented and it’s traditional use as an aphrodisiac and sensual agent has been confirmed through its ability to increase testosterone production, sperm count and motility as well as promoting increased libido.