Take a Scent Back in Time, the Old English Rose Garden Offers Fresh Inspiration
The power of scent is one of our most powerful and underrated senses. Most of us can our feel our body and mood affected by different scents around us, transporting us back to good times, special places and stand-out experiences. I know every time I catch a whiff of fresh pine, I’m instantly brought back to being eight or so, trekking through the snow with my sisters in search of the perfect Christmas tree. This amazing ability for simple scents to cause both a mind and body reaction is something we can use to our benefit in everyday life.
The rose holds a candle for no flower, recognized as one of the world’s most beautiful, the rose has also made its way into innumerable myths, stories and legends; it has become a symbol of intense love, desire, chastity, birth, rebirth and even death. Roses, though native to Asia, grow all over the world and in a rainbow of colors and range of size, from petite vines, to the towering bushy sort. In addition to smelling fabulous and being beautiful, roses been studied for their effects on the emotional and psychological state of mind, finding these flowers have incredible benefits that go beyond the bouquet.
Rose oil and rosewater have been used for centuries for their aromatic and therapeutic benefits, calming the nerves, easing worry and quelling depression. Greeks and Roman would add rose petals to their bathes for a relaxing touch, while women for centuries have taken advantage of the scent of rose oil to alleviate symptoms of menopause and menstruation cramps.
In the 2000s a variety of studies began showing the powerful scent of rose showed positive results in improving levels of general stress and anxiety, easing pain caused by menstrual cramps and has been shown to significantly improve the symptoms of menopause. In 2014, one study revealed how much aromatherapy could affect someone under some of the most severe physical and emotional constraints. While giving birth. Not surprisingly, anxiety is the most common emotional response during labor, and it can have adverse effects on both the mother and the baby. This study compared the effects of rose oil aromatherapy anxiety levels during labor. The group using rose oil had an overwhelming reduction in anxiety by 71%!
Topically, the rose has been a staple in the beauty industry for hundreds of years, blended into creams and salves not for its intoxicating scent, but for its ability to soothe and hydrate irritated, dry skin. Diluted rose oil or rose water is highly effective at promoting balance of the skin’s pH, leaving it clear and glowing. Natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory components make rose water a perfect treatment for skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, sunburns, and a fabulously gentle facial toner, astringent or daily hydrating spritzer to balance all skin types.
LINK: eczema, psoriasis
To really appreciate rose oil, you have to know what goes into it. Steam distillation is the most common method, taking 60,000 roses to make just one ounce of undiluted rose oil! Not surprisingly it’s one of the most expensive essential oils in the world. Luckily, rose water is also created in the process of steam distillation, and has become increasingly popular for its light, gentle aroma with many of the same properties at a lower cost.
LINK – steam distillation
So what is it about the rose that make it so special? It’s hard to say exactly, as more research done, it seems there’s more figure out. There are over 300 individual scent ingredients in an individual rose and there’s about 200 species of rose out there; to make even more complex, researchers say environmental factors, such as where the roses grow and the composition of the soil and water can also play a factor in the overall genetic make-up. In a typical gas chromatography analysis, rose oil exhibits over fifty individual compounds. So while we can’t quite pin down what makes it so special, who really needs an excuse to stop and smell the roses?
I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
More about rose varieties:
More information about roses in symbolism: