Rose – the queen of essential oils

Some friends walk into our lives just when we most need them. They open our hearts to love and friendship, and restore our faith in ourselves.

These days when I hear the name ‘Rose’ my mind immediately makes the connection to Rose Tyler – fiesty, fearless and loyal companion of the Doctor. Rose walked into the Doctor’s life at a time when he had lost faith in the universe and in himself – and restored it, capturing the heart of the Time Lord in the process.

These are the qualities of rose essential oil. Often called the ‘queen of essential oils’ by aromatherapists, its fragrance is warm and nurturing. Rose is a ‘mothering’ oil. She opens our hearts to giving and receiving love, and allows us to believe in ourselves and others. She is also a luxurious and sensual oil – a flower of Aphrodite and Venus, her scent is thought to act as an aphrodisiac.

Otto or absolute?

In aromatherapy you can buy two types of rose essential oil – Rosa damascena (rose otto) and Rosa centifolia (rose absolute). The first is the only ‘true’ essential oil because it is extracted from rose petals by steam distillation. The second is extracted by solvent extraction and is an ‘absolute’. But both smell gorgeous and are delightful to use. The only real difference is to your purse – rose otto is significantly more expensive. The botany and actions of both are provided in the summary profile below.

Beautiful skin

Rose is one of the most luxurious oils you can add to your skincare routine. It has long been used to restore a youthful bloom to mature or prematurely aging skins. It hydrates, stimulates and softens the skin. It is also helpful for dry or sensitive skins, being anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent. Use rose oil in facial massage at 3% dilution for dry and itchy skin, skin rashes, eczema and even for broken capillaries, because it helps to reduce skin redness.

  • 5ml apricot or peach kernel oil
  • 3 drops rose oil (otto or absolute)

A personal favourite anti-aging and rejuvenating blend of mine is given below. Massage a teaspoon amount on your face, nightly for one month, to achieve best results.

  • 20ml jojoba oil
  • 10ml evening primrose oil
  • 6 drops rose otto oil
  • 4 drops lavender oil
  • 6 drops neroli oil
  • 2 drops frankincense oil

Women’s health

Rose is thought to be a feminine oil and is used in aromatherapy to treat gynaecological problems, particularly to regulate menstruation or to relieve menstrual cramps and excessive bleeding. To treat such conditions, it is usually massaged on the abdomen. However, I would offer a word of caution when using rose oil, or any other essential oil or natural remedy, for ‘women’s problems’. It can be helpful for women suffering mild irregularities, but for those who have a more serious condition, such as menorrhagia (excessive bleeding leading to haemorrhaging and clotting) medical advice from a GP should be sought to diagnose the underlying causes. The NHS website provides useful advice for women.

Digestive system

Surprisingly, rose oil is thought to be good for the digestive system. I remember my aromatherapy tutor told us that inhaling rose oil can help to regulate a poor appetite and that massaging the lower back with rose oil can help to alleviate constipation. I also remember she told us that, at around £50 per 5ml of pure rose otto, it would be cheaper to drink a cup of ginger or mint tea.

The oil for special occasions

If you are going to treat yourself to rose oil reserve its use for beauty care and relaxation – two uses in which it excels. If you can’t afford to buy the pure essential oil there are many aromatherapy suppliers that offer rose oil ready-blended for use in massage. Essentially Oils offer rose otto or absolute in 5% dilution in jojoba oil at very reasonable prices.

To burn rose oil you only need about three drops in a vaporiser to work its subtle magic. Rose oil is thought to relieve depression (mild), sedate the nervous system, release anger, despair and frustration, banish fear and bring comfort. It nurtures your emotional self.

If the fragrance is too subtle and you wish to enhance it, but not use up your oil too quickly, add one drop of geranium oil to your burner. Geranium enhances and complements the fragrance of rose.

Enjoy.

This post is dedicated to Marina, who walked into my life just when I needed her most and is a dear friend.

Profile of rose:

Latin name: Rosa damascena (rose otto) and Rosa centifolia (rose absolute)
Plant family: Rosaceae
Plant type: floral
Perfume note: middle
Botany and origins: Rosa damascena is a prickly shrub with fragrant pink blooms and whitish fuzzy leaves; Rosa centifolia is an oil extracted from a hybrid plant called rose de mai (Rosa centifolia (pink rose) and Rosa gallica (red rose)).
Extraction: the otto is extracted by steam distillation, the absolute from solvent extraction
Chemical properties/active components: where to begin – rose oil has more than 300 active chemical constituents which science has yet to crack and replicate in synthetic form. How d’ya like them apples, science boys!
Blends with: almost all essential oils, try it with lemongrass for a delicious, summer room fragrance
Key actions: antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, antiseptic, astringent, antispasmodic, antiviral, calming, circulatory stimulant, comforting, emollient, hydrating, laxative, loving, regulating, sedative, softening, stimulating, uplifting
Common conditions: primarily useful for skin care (mature, dry, sensitive, itchy, irritated, reddened, eczema, rashes and broken capillaries); and for its emotional effects (antidepressant, uplifting, refreshing, irritability, heart palpitations, insomnia, anger, dispair, frustration, fear); it is also thought to be useful for gynaelogical irregularities, and toning and stimulating to both the digestive and circulatory system
Contraindications: non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitising. However, it is advised to avoid during pregnancy. In my personal experience, I’ve found that rose oil can cause irritation for people with very sensitive skins or just as an idiosyncratic (individual) reaction. Therefore, as with all essential oils, it is advisable to patch test before general use.
Further reading: This profile is based on my own experience and knowledge of using this essential oil. Other aromatherapy texts will list a wider range of properties and uses. The most comprehensive essential oil profiles that I have read are given by Salvatore Battaglia’s The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, published by Perfect Potion, 2003, Australia. ISBN:  0-6464-2896-9

Image © 123RF

Lights! Camera! Action! It’s jasmine!

Jasmine was the girl at school ‘most likely to become a movie star’. She is confident, outgoing, sophisticated and glamorous. She has an inner luminosity that brings inspiration and courage to those that fall within her sphere.

Jasmine is a delicate and beautiful plant, reminiscent of warm and dusky summer evenings. It is an evergreen vine, or shrub, with small shiny green leaves and white star-shaped flowers, which release their most potent aroma at night.

Traditionally jasmine has been used as an aphrodisiac in perfume oils and as a tonic for women during menstruation and childbirth. It has many other uses such as relaxing tense muscles and spasms, and relieving catarrh and coughs (although there are cheaper oils that can do this just as effectively, eg lavender and myrtle oils respectively). Jasmine is also thought to be an antidepressant.

I have always found the fragrance of jasmine to be enchanting and spellbinding. Jasmine casts a spell that allows you to believe in yourself, it creates confidence and dispels lethargy and doubt. Jasmine is the friend who pushes you out of your comfort zone and encourages you to reach for your dreams.

Air of inspiration

In spring and summer months I like to burn jasmine oil in the early morning, just as the sun is waking up. The rich scent weaves its magic into the smells of dawn and dew, creating an inspiring air. It awakens the mind and a spark of creativity, dispelling lethargy or self doubt.

For inspiration pour four to five drops of jasmine oil into your oil burner. Light the candle and prepare to be spellbound!

Enchanting hair oil

Jasmine has been used for centuries in India to fragrance hair. To create an enchanting hair conditioning oil you’ll need:

  • medium-sized dark glass jar
  • 100ml coconut oil
  • 60 drops jasmine oil

Melt the coconut oil by putting it in a bowl and standing the bowl in boiling water. When the oil has melted to liquid form pour in your jasmine oil and stir. Quickly pour your blend into the dark glass jar before the coconut oil sets again.

To use, get a teaspoon amount of your jasmine-fragranced coconut oil and massage into your scalp, combing through the lengths of your hair. Cover with a warm towel and leave for 30 minutes. Then shampoo and rinse out. The coconut oil nourishes hair and jasmine leaves it subtly fragranced.

In summer, I also like to buy unscented shampoos and conditioners and create my own scent by adding jasmine oil. Use the same dilutions for jasmine coconut oil – 100ml unscented shampoo or conditioner to 60 drops jasmine oil. Always store your blend in dark glass, because essential oils can corrode plastic containers.

Romantic bathing oil

Jasmine is warming, comforting and soothing. Its fragrance calms nervous tension and anxiety, soothes feelings of restlessness and provides feelings of encouragement and self belief. Its aroma is also perfect for setting a romantic mood.

For a luxurious bath, run your bath water then pour in a blend of 20ml olive oil and 20 drops jasmine oil. This is a 5% dilution that may be used in baths. Enjoy.

This post is dedicated to Lisa, because, like jasmine, she’s a star!

Profile of jasmine:

Latin name: Jasminum officinale
Plant family: Oleaceae
Plant type: floral
Perfume note: middle
Botany and origins: originally native to China, west Asia and north India; also cultivated in the Mediterranean and France
Extraction: solvent extraction to produce jasmine absolute or steam distillation to produce jasmine essential oil
Chemical properties/active components: 54% esters including benzyl acetate and benzyl benzoate; its main volatile constituent is benzyl acetate
Blends with: rose, sandalwood, clary sage and all citrus oils
Key actions: aphrodisiac, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, analgesic, expectorant, stimulant, soothing
Common conditions: skin care for dry, irritated and sensitive skins, and for oily skins; depression, lethargy, nervous anxiety, restlessness and tension
Contraindications: non-toxic, non-sensitising and non-irritant. Avoid during pregnancy
Further reading: This profile is based on my own experience and knowledge of using this essential oil. Other aromatherapy texts will list a wider range of properties and uses. The most comprehensive essential oil profiles that I have read are given by Salvatore Battaglia’s The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, published by Perfect Potion, 2003, Australia. ISBN:  0-6464-2896-9

Image © 123RF