Herb of the month - Rose
Ever since I was a child playing in my grandparents' garden, I have loved the smell of rose. I would pick the petals and try to made "rose water." It always turned out terribly but it sparked such a love of this humble flower.
Little did I know that years later I would fall in love with Rose all over again, this time for its medicinal properties.
It is thought that the birth place of the rose is Persia and traditional Iranian medicine made use of it for treatment of chest and abdominal pains, menstrual bleeding and digestive ailments.
It was spread by the ancient Greeks and Romans who made lavish use of its blossoms both for its beauty and as an antiseptic for eye-washing and mouth disinfecting.
It was once the custom to suspend a rose over the dinner-table as a sign that all confidences were to be held sacred. Even now the plaster ornament in the centre of a ceiling is known as 'the rose.'
Modern medicinal uses
Rose is one of my favourite herbs for low mood and anxiety. Even its scent is uplifting. It has long been believed that rose essential oil and rose water bring happiness, self-confidence and are known as sensual and aphrodisiac agents. And research is now backing this up.
The anti-depressant activity exhibited by rose has been shown to be due to decreasing the lipid peroxidation and increasing the antioxidants in cerebral cortex (a part of the brain). Research has also shown that it stimulates β-adrenergic receptors therefore having a relaxing action. Clinical trials have also shown that it reduces the symptoms of depression.
Other trials have found that it helps infertility and libido by increasing the diameters of seminipherous tubules, sperm count and motility and enhancing the testosterone production. And again, in patients suffering with depression, it has shown to improve libido.
As for its antiseptic properties, in vitro studies have found rose extracts to be effective against a range of bacteria and viruses, including HIV. This has been backed up by clinical trials on recurrent aphtous stomatitis and conjunctivitis.
Rose mouthwash anyone?
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Nazıroğlu M., Kozlu S., Yorgancıgil E., Uğuz A.C., Karakuş K. Rose oil (from Rosa× damascena Mill.) vapor attenuates depression-induced oxidative toxicity in rat brain. J Nat Med. 2013;67:152–158.
Farnia V., Shirzadifar M., Shakeri J. Rosa damascena oil improves SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction in male patients suffering from major depressive disorders: results from a double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled clinical trial. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2015;11:625–635.
Mahmood N., Piacente S., Pizza C., Burke A., Khan A.I., Hay A.J. The anti-HIV activity and mechanisms of action of pure compounds isolated from Rosa damascena. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1996;229:73–79
Hoseinpour H., Peel S.A., Rakhshandeh H. Evaluation of Rosa damascena mouthwash in the treatment of recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Quintessence Int. 2011;42:483–491.