The fragrance of rose has long inspired poets and lovers. One legend says the red rose came from the blood of the Greek love goddess Aphrodite. The name of Aphrodite’s son Eros, god of love, is an anagram for rose. Folktales that come from China to Europe tell similar stories about the rose’s symbolism as the unfolding of both spiritual and physical love and perfection.
Originally from Asia Minor, the plant was brought by Turkish merchants to Bulgaria, where the most valued essential oil is now produced. It is gentle and nontoxic but costly, because so little can be made during distillation and because the bushes need so much care.
The oil is distilled or solvent-extracted from blossoms; but, as it is difficult to separate from water, the oil must be distilled at least twice, resulting in two products. The first is called attar of roses; the by-product is called rose water. The unadulterated oil congeals when it cools, but can be liquefied again by the warmth of the hand. It has been an age-old favorite essential oil in facial creams because, in addition to its incredible fragrance, it is reputed to fend off aging. It is also used in aromatherapy preparations and costly perfumes.
Principal constituents of rose: Geraniol (up to 75 percent), citronellol, nerol, stearopten, phenyl ethanol, farnesol, and others
Scent of rose: Wonderfully intense, the fragrance is sweet and floral.
Therapeutic properties of rose: Antidepressant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, antibacterial, and antiviral; increases menstruation, calms nervous tension
Uses for rose: A cell rejuvenator and powerful antiseptic, rose essential oil soothes and heals skin conditions, including cuts and burns. Rose treats asthma and can be used as an inhalant, albeit an expensive one. Instead, most people reserve it for skin creams and lotions; it is suitable for all complexion types. It helps a variety of female disorders, possibly by balancing hormones.
A massage oil helps various types of female problems, including menstrual cramps, PMS symptoms, and moodiness during menopause. Many women report that simply smelling rose’s fragrance is enough to do the trick. Sniffing the oil or using a massage oil containing rose has even been suggested to help reverse impotency.