Rose Essential Oil
The name rose applies to approximately 150-200 different species of plants belonging to the Rosaceae family. Within it, scientists estimate that around 1,800 different cultivars exist. Despite this phenomenal variety, the most prominent species is Rosa damascena, more commonly known as Damask Rose.1
Believed to originate from China, roses are extremely popular in the Middle East where they have been cultivated for centuries.2 These plants are mainly prized for their flowers, and the pleasant fragrance they produce. Today, roses are globally cultivated for their high value in the perfume industry. However, the two main products obtained from them, rose water and rose essential oil, have many other applications, including therapeutic ones.
In particular, rose essential oil has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anticonvulsant, antispasmodic and hepaprotective properties.4,5
Given the potent effect on the cognitive and psychological aspects of human health, an interesting application is in aromatherapy during times of grief or severe depression.1
Uses for Rose Essential Oil
Like the majority of essential oils, the preferred method of extraction is through steam distillation.1,5 As the Damask Rose has a naturally low oil content, large quantities of rose petals are required to produce to the highly-coveted, pale-yellow oil.1 From cosmetics to meditation, rose essential oil has a variety of uses around the world and has been noted for soothing effects.
The soothing effect of rose essential oil, combined with its attractive odor makes it perfect for revitalizing the skin. Apply 1 to 2 drops of diluted rose essential oil onto the neck and face and gently message to help skin absorb it.
Simultaneously, the astringent effect of the oil may contribute to improving the firmness of aging skin.3
For an enhanced skin moisturizer, combine 1 drop of rose essential oil with 2 drops each of sandalwood and frankincense essential oil. Add the mixture to 1 fluid ounce of carrier oil (coconut, jojoba or almond). This can be applied after cleansing the skin at night.3
When used in a diffuser or into warm water, rose essential oil can provide a calming and relaxing sensation. For people fighting depression or grieving-associated ailments such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, inhalation may positively influence syptoms.3
High quality rose essential oil can have a very intense fragrance and should be used sparingly. Place 1 to 2 drops of pure essential oil to a diffuser and let the fragrance spread throughout open spaces.
Rose essential oil may have potent effects on lymph inflammation. Mix 1 to 2 drops of rose essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba. Massaging this mixture over swollen lymph vessels may provide a soothing or healing effect.3
The calming power of rose can be used in the bathtub as well. To make your own soothing bath salt mixture, combine 1½ cups of Epsom salts, ½ cup of Pink Himalayan salt, ¼ cup of baking soda, and 10 drops of rose essential oil.3 A few scoops of this mixture can be dissolved in the hot bath water before you step in.
Enhance Beauty Products
The most common industrial use of rose essential oil is in the making of perfumes. The strong and persistent notes of the rose oil make it a preferred choice for perfumers all around the world.
As well, rose essential oils are often used to enhance the fragrance of personal care products. This is why we find this oil as an ingredient for creams, soaps, lip balms, deodorants, among others. Rose essential oil can be easily added to unscented lotions, soaps, and to homemade lip balms and deodorants.
Rose Essential Oil Benefits
As one of the most sophisticated and expensive oils that exist, rose essential oil boasts many impressive benefits, the most important of which can be found below.
The power of rose essential oil as a relaxing agent has been widely observed in scientific literature.1,4 The use of this oil in aromatherapy can induce deep feelings of quietness, sedation, and calmness. Proper diffusion of rose essential oil in stressful environments may help reduce tension.
Rose essential oil’s components are known for having a very powerful impact as a neuropharmacological substance. In one study, the application of chloroformic extract (an organic solvent which extracts oils) of roses was shown to induce the growth of neurons, and prevent the formation of b-amyloid plaques.3
Since these plaques are responsible for the initiation of Alzheimer’s symptoms, this preliminary research suggests that rose essential oil may be a good candidate for natural prevention of Alzheimer’s.
In a 2008 study, the use of rose essential oil as an anti-seizure agent was evaluated and confirmed.4 This in vivo experiment showed that the neurological protective effect of the oil was present even at the highest level of convulsions.
Such promising results could shine a light on potential alternative treatments for epileptic patients.
The relaxing effect of rose essential oil was tested in laboratory experiments over muscle tissue. The study showed that when essential oil was applied to muscle cells, it helped reduce the contractibility effect to levels similar to synthetic substances.1
While the mechanism behind this relaxing effect is not yet completely understood, the inhalation of the volatile active ingredients may lead to muscle distention, and explain the calmness patients experience during aromatherapy.
Rose essential oil demonstrates a potent antimicrobial activity for a wide range of bacterial and fungal species. Topical application of low concentrations of the oil has shown impressive anti-bacterial effects on common infectious species like E. choli, P. aeruginosa and S. aureus.
In a 2011 laboratory experiment, research revealed that the action of rose essential oil’s active ingredients on the microbes was remarkably high. It was also demonstrated that essential oil derived from fresh petals provided better results compared to oils derived from dried roses.1
The antimicrobial action was also tested on the fungal species Candida albicans, as well as on multi-drug resistant strains of S. aureus. Even when higher concentrations of essential oil were necessary to render same results, the antiseptic activity remained.1
Rose essential oil has strong activity for scavenging free radicals responsible for dangerous cell oxidation and aging. In particular, oils extracted from fresh flowers showed a potent free radical elimination potential when compared against common chemical oxidants.
Further, an in vivo study showed that the inhibition of oxidation goes beyond the neutralization of free radical species, but also extends to the oxidation of fat components of the cell.1 Given the importance of fat in many cellular processes, this suggests that rose essential oil has a definite advantage against aging and the diseases derived from it.
A 2011 animal study showed that when rose extract is ingested, it may have a positive impact on intestine health, inducing a laxative effect by improving water absorption in feces and more frequent defecation. Its effect comes from promoting greater water intake by the intestine membrane.1,6
Note: Ingesting essential oils is not recommended unless done so under the direct supervision of a qualified professional.
Promising results obtained on insects shed light on what could be a great potential role of rose essential oil in human anti-aging. The presence of oil in the growing environment of fruit flies showed they had less mortality rates, without compromising reproduction or metabolic rate.1
Whether this same effect can be harnessed in humans remains unknown; although this study has triggered questions that future research may be able to answer. Combined with its antioxidant effects, the anti-aging potential of rose essential oil could prove beneficial for cosmetics or topical applications.
Side Effects of Rose Essential Oil
Rose essential oil is an extremely potent essential oil. While there are many positive and beneficial effects of rose essential oil, it can become harmful and counterproductive when used in very high concentrations. Always dilute rose essential oil before topical application.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be harmful or toxic if swallowed. Never ingest rose essential oil unless under the direct supervision of a health care provider.
Rose essential oil should be avoided during pregnancy as there is very little knowledge of the effects on the fetus when active compounds enter the bloodstream. For this same reason, this oil should not be applied on children, as their developing bodies could suffer unwanted effects.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Boskabady, M.H., Shafei, M.N., Saberi, S. & Amini, S. (2011) Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena. Iran J Basic Med Sci, 14(4). 295–307. http://bit.ly/2kfEXrq
- Our Rose Garden. The University of Illinois Extension. The History of Roses. Retrieved on February 9, 2017. http://bit.ly/2kZlUWC
- Awale, S., Tohda, C., Tezuka, Y., Miyazaki, M. and Kadota, S. (2011) Protective Effects of Rosa damascena and Its Active Constituent on Aβ(25–35)-Induced Neuritic Atrophy. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011: 131042. doi: 1093/ecam/nep149
- Kheirabadi, M., Moghimi, A., Rakhshande, H. & Behnam Rassouli, M. (2008) Evaluation of the Anticonvulsant Activities of Rosa damascena on the PTZ Induced Seizures in Wistar Rats. Journal of Biological Sciences, 8: 426-430. doi: 3923/jbs.2008.426.430
- Ulusoy, S., Boşgelmez-Tinaz, G., & Seçilmiş-Canbay, H. (2009). Tocopherol, carotene, phenolic contents and antibacterial properties of rose essential oil, hydrosol and absolute. Current Microbiology, 59(5), 554-558. doi:1007/s00284-009-9475-y
- Arezoomandan, R., Kazerani, H.R., Behnam-Rasooli, M. (2011). The Laxative and prokinetic effects of Rosa damascena mill in rats. Iran J Basic Med Sci,14.9–16. Retrieved March 9, 2017 from http://profdoc.um.ac.ir/articles/a/1019105.pdf