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Archive for the ‘Rose’ Category

Simplest Rosehip Jam

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A few days ago I spent a lovely afternoon with my friend Deborah making rosehip jam from a stash that were picked last month and stored in the freezer. I noted on my walk yesterday that there are still a fair few rosehips about, though they are starting to look thin on the ground, so I thought I would share this recipe with you before it gets too late to make it. Rosehips are always better after a frost anyway and it is only in the last week that we have had hard frosts in this part of the country. If you pick your rosehips before the frost then you can always pop them in the freezer like I did to sweeten them up a little.

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To make this recipe you need only four ingredients; rosehips, half a lemon, sugar and water and the method is simplicity itself. What is a little challenging is halving and de-seeding your hips before you begin which can be a surprisingly lengthy process so make sure you have allotted a good amount of time for it and perhaps enjoy it as a relaxing task whilst listening to music or watching a film. To do this you just need to cut the stems and bases off the hips, then slice them in half and scoop out the seeds and little irritating hairs which can make your hands itch after a while.

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Method:

  • Begin by adding  just enough water to cover the de-seeded rosehips (add too much and the resulting jam will be too runny) and bringing to a slow simmer.
  • Allow them to continue simmering for about 20 minutes, mashing regularly with a potato masher.
  • You should have a nice thick pulpy liquid at the end of this time which you now want to push through a sieve. I used a fairly coarse sieve as it’s nice to get as much of the pulp and goodness into your jam as possible. You really just want to catch all the odd seeds and hard bits of hip that inevitably get missed in the preparation, though you will end up losing some of the pulp of course too.
  • Weigh the rosehip pulp and put it back in the pan with an equal amount of sugar and the juice of half a lemon. 1kg of rosehip pulp and 1 kg of sugar will make about 6 to 8 average sized jars.
  • Bring to a gentle boil for about 10 minutes or unti the jam has thickened to your desired consistency. Try to avoid boiling for too long though as you don’t want to destroy too much of the precious vitamin C that rosehips are so rich in.
  • Transfer the finished jam to sterilised jars and enjoy spread lavishly on your bread/ crackers of choice.

I hope you enjoy the last of the seasons wild fruits before winter tightens its grip. For more lovely jam making recipes and tips see this post on the Herbarium by Carol Church whose jams are the finest around, as I can attest from personal experience!

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June Is For Roses

June is almost behind us now but I couldn’t let it disappear completely without paying homage to the rose – for June is all about elderflowers and roses!

As anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows, I (like many others) am a sucker for roses. There is so much you can do with them at this time of year, for the kitchen, the bathroom or the medicine cabinet, and all will bring that gentle honeyed sweetness into your life, uplifting the spirit and gladdening the heart. In this post I wanted to share some pictures of a few of the roses currently in bloom along with some ideas about how you might want to use them.

Old favourite Margaret Merril has the most perfect blooms and a deliciously delicate scent.

Alex’s Red has suffered a bit with blackspot this year but the blooms are beautifully formed with a gorgeous deep burgundy hue. I have heard that you can treat blackspot with a spray made of a 50/50 mixture of milk and water but I haven’t tried it yet to confirm.

Below is a new addition, Cariad, which I bought last year as a bare root almost purely for the name which means ‘love’ in Welsh. It actually looks quite different from the photo I saw but I like it anyway and it looks lovely with red campion and vervain planted infront.

Scepter’d Isle is an even softer, warmer pink which is very relaxing to look upon. She can go a bit brown in heavy rains but now the weather is a clearer she is in finest of forms.

Warm Welcome is a miniature climber that was bred by my uncle. Both he and my great grandfather were rose breeders so I guess some degree of obsession must be in the blood! Both have also written books on the subject. A tipi support of hazel twigs lends this rose a fairytale charm.

Jude the Obscure is one of the most beautifully fragranced of all the roses. At this time of year I can hardly walk down the garden path without stopping to bury my nose in the blooms whilst my husband attempts to hurry me along calling ‘go, go, we’re going to miss the train!’

Goldfinch is a lovely small rambler that I bought to grow over the unsightly oil tank situated by our garden gate. The flowers are a soft apricot hue that fades to cream as they age.

The rose is the plant that is perhaps most closely associated with the heart and this summer I noticed an interesting connection between the two. The petals of the rose open in a spiral looking not dissimilar to the heart muscle itself which recent research has proven is actually one muscular band that pumps and suctions blood by opening in a spiral. You can see a video of this here, be sure to watch right to the end when you see how the heart actually pumps, it is quite amazing to behold and something of a revolution in the study of anatomy. Comparing the two put me in mind of the the doctrine of signatures, the idea that something in a plants aspect gives us clues as to what it can be used for.


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Along with the Apothecaries Rose and the local wild roses, Gertrude Jekyll is the rose I use most for medicine making. I wrote this post last year about using it in tinctures but it also makes the most fantastic infused vinegars, honeys and elixirs. It has a particularly high yield of essential oil so it imparts a beautifully sweet rose flavour to whatever menstruum it is infused in.

To make a rose infused vinegar or honey, all you need do is lightly pack a jar with any highly scented, unsprayed rose petals and cover with your liquid of choice. As the petals are so delicate they give up their flavour easily. If you leave the petals in the honey it can be used almost immediately but if you prefer to strain it then let it infuse for a couple of weeks first. A week is enough time for the vinegar. Remember to cap your vinegars with a plastic rather than metal lid to avoid corrosion.

To make a rose elixir you follow the exact same process but fill the jar a third full of honey and two thirds of brandy or vodka to cover the petals. This is a nice mix of the deliciousness of a honey infusion with a stronger alcohol extraction which will result in a more potent medicinal effect. This can be strained after only a day or two as the volatile oils in the plant are easily extracted into the alcohol and the medicine will become more bitter and astringent as time progresses, something that may not be desirable if you want to maximise the flavour of the end product. Rose petals are also delicious in a salad and look beautiful with other edible flowers. Danielle at The Teacup Chronicles recently posted a recipe for a strawberry and rose petal salad which looked delectable.

At this time there are so many roses in bloom that I can’t resist picking a few for the kitchen windowsill. Gazing at them and smelling their sweet scent on the air helps to make doing the washing up a far more pleasurable task!

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Valentine’s Delights

Three of my all time favourite herbs are most definitely herbs of love and, with Valentine’s day just around the corner, I thought it an auspicious time to share a little more about them.

They are Avena, Rose and Cardamom, all famed for their aphrodisiac properties, but all quite different, though they do work in some similar ways.

Avena – Oats are one of the best remedies we have for building and restoring the nervous system and this makes them a wonderful love tonic as they strengthen our reserves helping to make us more resilient and energised. Although we tend to think of aphrodisiac herbs as stimulating rather than relaxing, these kind of nerve tonic herbs act to energise us in a more roundabout way, by releasing the stresses that caused our problems in the first place and getting us strong and vital once more. So many arguments are caused by being frazzled and over-sensitive, making regular doses of Avena a great relationship soother.

Rose – What need I say about the rose, the ultimate symbol of love? It is gently moving, gently stimulating, relaxing, aromatic and uplifting. It also opens the heart to allow greater self love and acceptance, something which enables us to partake more fully in any relationship, romantic or otherwise.

Cardamom – Cardamom is one of the most balanced of the spices and for me this makes it the true spice of love. It is both slightly stimulating, like most spices, as well as calming and centring. As I mentioned above, it is often a combination of stress and resulting fatigue that stops us from giving time and attention to our beloveds, so balancing herbs, like all those mentioned here, are exactly what the love doctor ordered.

All these herbs help us to feel loved in order to feel loving. They work at the meeting point of relaxation and stimulation, of uplifting and of soothing. Essentially they work from a place of balance from which all things can flower, not just love for a partner, but love for ourselves, for the wider context of people and other sentient beings and in the knowledge that there is no real difference anyway. After all, love is just love and when it is in our hearts, all will benefit from its radiance.

Here are just a few of the ways you can combine these herbs to make some deliciously delectable treats, for Valentine’s or any other day.

Tea – A simple tea of cardamom (gently crushed in a pestle and mortar), rose petals and oatstraw makes a lovely soothing and heart opening blend for drinking anytime. To make an extra special tea, add some Ashwagandha root which is a traditional adaptogen and aphrodisiac of Ayurvedic medicine. To make the tea gently simmer about half a tablespoon of ashwagandha root in a pan for about 15 mins. Turn off the heat and add the other 3 herbs leaving to steep for another 15 mins before straining and serving with a little honey. Ashwagandha can be a little bitter in flavour so the addition of the honey makes it more deliciously balanced.

Ashwagandha root and rose buds

Bath – A lovely romantic bath can be made by mixing rose petals and rolled oats with a drop or two of cardamom essential oil and tying up in a small square of muslin. Tie this around the taps as the bath is running, making sure you squeeze out all the creaminess of the oats as you go.

Honey – Infuse rose petals and cardamon seeds in honey for a delicious aromatic treat.

Massage Oil – Cardamom and rose are both divine as essential oils and a beautifully romantic massage oil can be made by combining them both with a base oil such as almond, olive or jojoba. To 50 ml base oil add 5 -10 drops each of rose and cardamom oils.

And last but not least…

The Flapjacks of Love – 
Combining oats, rose, cardamom and other delicious ingredients into a sticky sweet treat that is sure to delight anyone you serve them to.

Ingredients:
250 g rolled oats
125 g coconut oil
75 g muscovado sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Small handful of broken up walnut or pecan pieces
1 tsp rose petals (dried is fine)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ashwagandha root (optional)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a baking tray ready. Mix all the ingredients well in a mixing bowl, I find it easier to melt the coconut oil first. Transfer to the baking tray and spread evenly. Cook for about 25 minutes until golden brown then remove from the oven and score into rectangles. Allow to cool thoroughly giving the coconut plenty of time to set. Enjoy with some cardamom, rose and avena tea and a small smile of satisfaction.

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An Abundance of Roses

For the most part I prefer plants as close to their natural state as possible and would always take a wildflower over a showy cultivar any day. Not only are they more beneficial for insects and other wildlife but are also much easier to look after, more robust and better suited to their environment.

So my obsession with big, beautiful, temperamental and highly scented roses is quite out of character. I don’t love the exquisite wild roses of our hedgerows any less because of it and from them I make a lovely cooling and astringent tincture as well as using the hips later in the year. Our wild roses are not that highly scented however so to make the delicious, sweet, aromatic rose tincture that makes even the iciest of hearts begin to thaw, I really need to use cultivated roses. That’s my excuse anyway.

Wild Rose - Rosa canina

Most people tend to use either Rosa damascena, The Damask Rose, or Rosa gallica, The Apothecary’s Rose, to make aromatic tinctures and both produce some lovely medicines.

 Apothecary’s Rose

I’ve been quizzing different herbalists for a while about which roses they prefer for tincture making but it was Stephen and Carol Church, whose rose tincture is the most divine I have yet to taste, whose advice and method I have stuck with. They recommended using ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ a lovely pink English rose with a beautiful, strong scent. It apparently has the highest yield of volatile oils of all roses. I bought one last year and have been experimenting this summer with their directions.

Gertrude Jekyll

They advise macerating the petals in the alcohol for no more than 24 hours, a much shorter amount of time than usually allowed for tinctures. What this achieves is extraction of the volatile oils but without all the tannins which make rose tincture quite drying. Part of the nature of rose as a medicine is that it is cooling and drying but there are plenty of times when I want to work with the aromatic healing qualities of rose without using a medicine that is overly astringent. Besides, it tastes so much more delicious this way and that, as you know, is a big part of the magic of Rose. In her first growing year, my plant has yet to produce the abundance of flowers that Stephen and Carol’s do so I have just been experimenting with small quantities this summer. To make a specific tincture, that is one from fresh petals, try using a 4o% vodka, 1:2, which means one part rose petals by weight to two parts vodka by volume. Remember that rose petals are very light however so you need to cram a lot in! I actually didn’t have enough flowers blooming all at once to get the right proportion so I double infused it instead and it has still come out nicely.

Here ends the informative part of this post, the rest is just gratuitous rose indulgence. You have been warned!

My husband’s favourite rose in the garden and possibly mine, were I to have favourites, is the floribunda Margaret Merril. She has it all, beauty, elegance, scent and attractiveness to insects. She starts as a perfect creamy bud with a blush of pink…

Margaret Merrill

…and opens to form a perfect, white, deliciously scented bloom.

Along with the Apothecary’s Rose and Gertrude Jekyll, I have one more pink rose, ‘Scepter’d Isle’. Though not as sweetly fragranced as some of the others, she has a delicacy of presence that is healing just to look upon. This picture, taken after a heavy rain, does not really do her justice.

Sceptr'd Isle

All three pink roses in a jar.

We have two miniature roses on the kitchen windowsill. The pink one I found in the middle of the road last year without a pot. I always wonder how it could have ended up there, victim of a lovers quarrel perhaps? I was quite happy to give it a home and it is much loved and admired now.

I have also found a passion for orange, yellow and apricot roses this year. I fell in love with ‘Graham Thomas’ during our trip to Mottisfont Abbey, home of the National Collection of Old Roses, and found it impossible to leave without one.

Graham Thomas

‘Lady Emma Hamilton,’ my most recent acquisition, has the cheeriest disposition and the sweetest of scents.

Lady Emma Hamilton

‘Wollerton Old Hall’ is another new addition, a very generous early birthday gift from my lovely colleague and fellow rose obsessor, Laura. Isn’t it just beautiful?

Wollerton Old Hall

And I have shown off my joyful little miniature climber ‘Warm Welcome’ before. Bred by my uncle and given to me by my Dad, its a firm favourite in my garden and is covered with small but wonderfully vibrant blooms.

Warm Welcome

My wish list is ever expanding and includes the gorgeous dark bloomed Rosa gallica ‘Tuscany’, a rambler to cover the ugly old tank by the gate and the lovely ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ which I have much admired at The London College of Physicians gardens. We are in the process of getting rid of our car parking space in order to accommodate them all!

What are your favourite roses? For medicine making or for pure enjoyment?

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This month our blog party is being hosted by the multi-talented Sarah over at Tales of a Kitchen Herbwife with the topic of Flower Remedies.

A flower remedy is a very subtle form of medicine that works on shifting mental and emotional patterns which may be the cause of unhappiness or physical ill health. The flower is infused in water, usually in bright sunlight, and the resulting remedy is thought to contain the beneficial qualities of that flower on an energetic level.

Flower remedies tend to divide herbalists into two camps as there is no accepted scientific rationale for how they work. It’s possible this may change at some point however as we discover more about such things as the memory of water and the effect that subtle energetic signatures can have on the healing process. In Masuru Emoto’s inspiring book, Messages from Water, he records images of the crystals formed from samples of water exposed to different words, images and music amongst other things. One of his experiments involved exposing water to chamomile and fennel and the resulting water crystals give us a fascinating insight into how flower remedies might possibly be working with us.

Crystals from water exposed to chamomile.

Crystals from water exposed to fennel.

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For now however I content myself with the fact that flower remedies seem to work well for many people and that I myself have experienced a huge amount of benefit from their use.

Flower remedies are a subject close to my heart as they are really where my journey into plant medicine began over a decade ago. I discovered the Bach flower remedies in my local health food shop and began reading and studying about them and slowly adding each remedy to my collection. I also began making my own remedies from flowers in my parents’ and neighbour’s gardens. I still have a bottle of the first essence I ever made, a spring daffodil remedy, though I have not used it in years. From the Bach remedies I went on to using the Bush remedies which I studied both here in the UK and in Australia when I was in my early 20’s. Nowadays I mostly use a series of essences I have made over the last 5 years or so from local wild flowers along with some Bach remedies from Healing Herbs and tree remedies from Green Man Essences.

We all know the joy of looking at a flower in bloom, it can dispel our feelings of gloom or despondency and make the world seem a brighter place. This is a subtle kind of healing, our presence and conscious awareness of the beauty around us in that moment  shifts us away from negative thought patterns. For me, flower remedies work in a similar way. When we take a few drops on our tongue, we are imbibing something of the beauty and unique qualities of that flower which can help replace the vibration of fear or anxiety with a moment of clarity and peace. This is why flower remedies are said to work better if you take small doses frequently rather than fewer, larger doses as each time we take a small amount we are shifting ourselves away from the negative state. If we continue to do this over a matter of weeks or months then the more positive state becomes habitual for our minds. The mind is a creature of habit and the more we replace a negative thought habit with a positive one, the more natural it will become for us.

Early in the year, whilst hanging out with my favourite Elder tree, I received a clear impression that this year I should focus on making moon remedies, that is flower remedies infused with moonlight rather than sunlight. I loved this idea and have been impatiently awaiting the few clear nights we’ve had around  the times of the full moons. This last fortnight has seen me make two new remedies, one by sun and one by moon.

First was a Wild Rose remedy. Roses are one of the most joyful sights of the English hedgerows, the ones around us have been spectacular this year, and roses are a flower I never tire of making essences from.

Rose is of course the flower of love and all rose remedies will open and heal the heart in some way. I find the wild rose has all the simplicity, joy and innocence of youth and as such it helps to bring us back to a time when love was a more natural way of being, rather something we had to strive for. With all it’s prickles and tendency to ramble where it will over the hedgerows there is also much of the resilience and fearlessness of youth about this plant which is common as a weed but still carries a rare ethereal beauty. I also find it a very spiritual remedy, helping to clarify and lighten my awareness and facilitate meditation.

This remedy was made using the sun method which I have explained in detail here.

Valerian is the Queen of my garden at the moment and I’ve been enchanted by how she shimmers in the pale moonlight. So I wondered out a few nights ago, torch in hand, and set some flowers infusing

Valerian by day.

As I was working the next day I decided to leave it out all night, collecting it after three hours would have meant too little sleep for me to be able to function! So I gathered it up just as dawn had broken. I don’t think any of the neighbours spotted me at this early hour, rummaging about on my knees dressed in my husbands boxer shorts and T-shirt but, if they did, it will no doubt only confirm what they suspect already.

And by night.

The moon’s energy is so different from that of the sun that the resulting remedy, though similar in many ways, felt like it had a different mode of action. It felt more softly diffusive than the solar remedies, not so distinct in its properties but like it slowly seeped through onto the different levels of being.

The leaves of Valerian are dark, moist and dense yet the flower heads grow so tall and upright. They seem very strong and vital yet the individual flowers themselves are the softest and palest of pinks.

To me it seems like a remedy which helps us to rise above negativity and transform dark thoughts into clarity, understanding and love. One of the aspects attributed to the moon is that of seeing clearly during the confusion and darkness of the night which would contribute to this facet of it’s healing qualities.

The Valerian flowers grow tall on fairly fine stems and the pale flower heads open up to the sky. The leaves however grow close to the ground and the roots are strong. Reflecting these qualities I feel that Valerian flower remedy would be especially helpful to ground those who are spaced out or would benefit from being more rooted in the here and now.

Flower remedies are a wonderful addition to any medicine chest. they can help to calm and centre, to inspire and uplift and they can be made from any flower that calls you. Dr Bach’s vision was that his system was simple enough for us all to be able to use to treat ourselves and our families. Flower remedies can also be used with pets and with plants too,  watering well with rescue remedy is helpful for a plant that has been newly transplanted or is stressed for some reason.

Don’t forget to read all the rest of the entries for this months flower remedy inspired blog party, the links to which will be posted on Sarah’s blog on Monday.

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I’m not sure if the rose hips are particularly lovely this year, or if it’s just that we now live in an area so full of wild roses that I’m spoiled for choice, but I seem to find myself exclaiming over their beauty every time I leave the house.

Rose hips are sweetest after the first frost but I usually pick some as soon as they are bright red, with no orangey colour left, and continue picking in small batches until they are finished.

 

Beautiful Rose hips

 

I don’t do a huge amount with rose hips I must say. I’ve added them to my hawthorn vinegar and a tincture and made a couple of batches of syrup so far and I love to add a few to decoctions and nettle nourishing infusions. A nourishing infusion is like a really strong tea of a particularly nourishing herb which is full of vitamins and minerals. The inimitable Susan Weed has written a lot about them and you can see how she does it over at her website here. I just add a few rose hips to the nettle at this time of year as the high vitamin C content helps with absorption of the iron that nettle is so rich in.

I don’t tend to make jellies and such,  just because the high sugar levels don’t particularly agree with me, but I make my rosehip syrup with raw honey using much the same method that I used for my elderberry syrup which I described here. This basically involves simmering the roughly chopped hips in enough water to cover for about half an hour, then straining through a jelly bag to get rid of all the pesky and irritating hairs. You can return the hips to the pan with fresh water once or twice more and get a lot more juice from them so don’t throw them away after the first go. When the liquid is cool I mix in about half the quantity of raw honey. You can add more, up to equal amounts to make it last longer but this can over power the delightful sweet and sour taste of the rose hips.

 

Plump and ripe

 

Another syrup I made this year used dates and a couple of fresh chillis from a plant on my windowsill to make a lovely warming, earthy and sweet treat that hasn’t lasted long at all in our house! I made it by simmering and straining the rose hips with the chillis as above, then making a paste from several fresh dates and a little of the rose hip juice over a low heat adding a little more juice at a time until it is all well mixed. At the end I added a little brandy to help preserve it as it wouldn’t keep long otherwise. This has definitely been my favourite rose hip recipe of the season!

 

Rose hips in late afternoon autumn sun

 

Rose hips are rich in Vitamin C and other antioxidants including flavonoids which have been shown in some studies to have anti-inflammatory properties. The flower of the rose is also known for its cooling and soothing properties when dealing with inflammatory conditions. These properties and other constituents like plant sterols also make rose hips beneficial for protecting the cardiovascular system.

All the more reason to enjoy some lovely rose hip syrup in our tea or any other way that takes your fancy.

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How did the rose ever open its heart
And give to the world all of its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being,
Otherwise we all remain too frightened.
Hafiz

Rose Bathed in Light

The subtleties of Rose as a medicine are one of the divine mysteries of herbalism. I’ve been noticing for a while that nary a patient escapes one of our clinics without a glug of Rose tincture added to their formula. My aromatherapy friends also seem to be in a Rose induced reverie at present and it appears to be a common acknowledgement for just about everyone that, ‘they need some Rose.’ When a herbalist told me recently that she’d ripped up her herb garden (oh the horror!) and now grows only roses, I knew there must be something in the air.

Most modern herbalists think of Rose in terms of a cooling astringent and use it appropriately, to dry congestion, tone tissues and calm inflammation. However it has many other properties, being anti-viral, aromatic, cardiotonic and hepatic, which make it a valuable medicine. It promotes bile flow and is a decongestant and protective of the liver and is great for calming allergies. Matthew Wood writes, “The rosaceae are primary remedies for reducing autoimmune heat and irritation.” It is also of particular benefit in regulating the menstrual cycle. The Rose hip also has many uses but I’ll save those for another post when they are in season.

Most of us agree on the fact that the medicine of Rose is a subtle one, about more than its actions and physiological effects. Though it is an antidepressant and mild sedative, it’s effects on the emotions are more whole, more multi-faceted, than either of these terms imply. In The Yoga of Herbs it states, ‘Rose is a well known flower of love and devotion… The lotus of the heart is a rose.’ The Rose has been exhalted throughout human history in many cultures for it’s beauty, exquisite perfume and the symbolism of it’s petals and thorns which refelect the tenderness and pain of earthly experience. It’s as though something of this tradition has leaked into our collective unconscious and continues to grow there, imbuing the Rose with even more grace and power.

I decided to ask some of my clinic supervisors their thoughts on the benefits of Rose and I got some interesting responses. Ed Berger put it nicely when he said, ‘The use of rose in a herbal mixture imparts a quality of the heart that cannot be explained by its constituents alone, the effect is aromatic, subtle and energetic, requiring minimal dosage for great effect.’

Sarah Furey makes a beautiful Rose flower remedy as well as using the tincture. She says, ‘ Rose is known to work on the heart and the heart chakra. I see its healing properties as giving peace at a time of grieving – with love and strength throughout the whole body. It will help heal a broken heart and allow one to explore these emotions of sadness with strength. It is also a valuable nerve relaxant and will reduce anxiety and lift the spirits.’

Another of my teachers said that, ‘every woman needs a little Rose.’ Whilst I think this is beautiful, I have to say that I believe men can benefit from taking Rose just as much as women, and the fact that we think they don’t, is part of the problem. Perhaps they need a different facet of it’s healing energies, but who among us would not benefit from nurturing, from care, from softening our world weary hearts?

Rosa Canina - The Wild Dog Rose. Helping to open the heart to the Divine in all things.

Kiva Rose’s wonderful insights into the properties and healing actions of her namesake have helped me to appreciate whole new dimensions to this subtle yet powerful medicine. She writes, ‘The underlying property of Rose is one of fluids/energy/blood movement and regulation, which explains many of seemingly disparate effects on the different organs and tissues of the body. It has an innate intelligence that gives it the ability to adjust the flow of the body’s varying energies and substances. It can calm heart palpitations, eliminate liver pains, reduce nervous tension or lessen menstrual cramps all depending on what the body needs. Traditional Western Herbalism and Ayurveda generally see the Rose as cooling while TCM usually describes it as warming, and I think this has much to do with what properties the varying traditions ascribe to hot or cold. The reduction in inflammation is certainly part of the reason is is thought of as cooling, and the moving properties have to do with the warming aspect.’

The energetics of rose may seem confusing at first because, as Kiva explains above, it been considered both cooling and warming in different traditions. She, and many other other herbalists, consider it to be drying but in my own experience I have found it to have the potential to be both drying and moistening. The difference will depend on what type of roses are used and how long they are macerated in alcohol for. A tincture macerated for the usual two to four weeks will be quite astringent and drying as the tannins have all been extracted from the petals. However a tincture made from highly aromatic roses and left to macerate in the alcohol for only a day, will capture the delicious taste of the volatile oils but not the tannins and will therefore be much more moistening.

Regular use of the tincture of Rose is highly recommended for those who are grieving, distraught or recovering from abuse. I am now using it for people who have experienced deep trauma sometime in the past which hasn’t properly healed yet.

One of my favourite ways to take Rose is in teas and I’ve written before about my adoration of Rose and cardamom tea. Some other lovely combinations are:

Hug in a Mug: For when you need a bit of nurturing. Equal parts Rose, Avena and Linden blossom with half a teaspoon of honey.
Aphrodisiac Blend: For when you need a bit of spice. 1 part Rose to 1/2 part each Cardamom and Cinnamon.
Tea for a Broken Heart: Equal parts Rose, Hawthorn Blossom and Heartsease (Viola tricolour).
Turkish Delight Tea: Yummy and heart warming. 1 part Rose to 2 parts Orange peel.
Cup o’ love: 1 part Rose to 1/2 part each Cardamon and Cacao powder, sweetened with honey or agave.

Time for Tea

Rose is also wonderful as an infused honey, especially made with fresh petals as you don’t have to strain them out and can just eat the whole thing as it is. This also makes a lovely soothing remedy for sore throats. Kiva Rose recommends a diluted Rose infused vinegar for treating sunburn as it’s cooling, soothing and astringent. I also love rose infused vinegar in a simple salad dressing as it transforms a few veggies into something decadent and delicious. Debs did a lovely post on making rose infused vinegar which you can read here.

I think Rose is of particular benefit to us in the West at this time because so many people feel alienated, lonely, rushed and lacking in direction. In our society, where acquisition is seen as the bench mark for a successful life, the benefits of learning to stop, open our hearts and see the divine in all things are immeasurable.

In opening the heart, Rose allows for greater compassion and love for others but, in doing so, helps us be gentler with ourselves too. Learning to love cannot exclude ourself and must, in fact, begin with ourself every time. That doesn’t mean it is self-indulgence, it cannot exclude others either, but until we love ourselves, the love we give and receive will always be conditional, it will always need something from the other to fill the void that we have refused to fill ourselves. We think we need to be worthy, to pass some kind of test to deserve love but that is a fundamental misunderstanding of what love is.

Somewhere beyond the the interplay of the experience of pleasure and pain lies true freedom, and the deepest experience of love. A love that cannot be given or received, but one that resides within us throughout the inevitably shifting conditions of our lives. In allowing the heart to open to all its experiences we can become servants to love and living testimonies to its power in our lives.

As only Rumi can say it;
Love is an ocean without shores, you have to learn to bear it.

References:
The Yoga of Herbs – Drs David Frawley and Vasant Lad
The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism – Matthew Wood
Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine – Thomas Bartram
The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine – Brigitte Mars
Articles by Kiva Rose available on herbmentor.com

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