Backyard Medicine: ROSE

Botanical name : Rosa spp.

Family: Rosaceae

Parts used : petals, leaves, fruit (rose hips)

 It is a wonderful year for the wild roses in our little corner of the world. The long winter and the summer rains provided enough moisture for them to grow green and lush. Pink blossoms in all shades,from dark magenta to pale pink, are everywhere. They feel the air with a dreamy fragrance. The scent of roses, mixed with the smell of moist earth and pine resin, brings my senses into a sort of trance. It is a soul medicine on its own.
 I often use wild roses in my remedies, but I was kind of stuck in this habit of just using the fruit , the rose hips. I put them in my teas and tinctures, and I was praising their great antioxidant qualities. Rose hips are full of vitamin C and are a great part of our winter routine, for keeping our family healthy.
 When I was little, we used to love eating rose hip jam, smeared over butter on a thick slice of sourdough bread. I still dream of making my own jam one day, but I have not gathered the patience to go through hours of removing all the tiny seeds .
 This year I discovered another side of the wild rose. I wanted to connect with this plant at its most bold state. The fragrant petals and the luscious leaves in various shades of pink and green. I've been reading more and more about their uses. The wild energy that they bring, the gentleness of a blossom and the fierceness of the thorns.
 Roses are more often associated with fragrance than herbal healing.But it turns out that wild roses have been part of our craft for thousands of years. They are from the same plant family as hawthorn, apples, almonds, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries ( to mention a few) - Rosaceae, the Rose family. Roses carry a lot of the properties of their brothers and sisters. Like hawthorn, The wild rose will strengthen the heart and will improve blood flow and circulation. It is a great antioxidant . Like raspberry, it will help with feminine problems and will strengthen the uterus. Some herbalists recommend taking rose elixir to help ease cramps and other PMS symptoms. A tincture from the rose petals and young leaves has a very relaxing effect on the body. It will ease the mind and promote healthy sleep.
 I use rose petals in my Blossom Beauty facial mask and in a wonderful tincture I call Brain Tonic. I love to make creams and lotions with the essential oil and I grew up using rose water as part of my beauty routine.
 While I am writing all this, I am looking at the jar of Wild Rose Elixir brewing on my counter and I can't wait to try it. I feel inspired and excited, as if I have found a long lost friend, with many stories to tell and a vast knowledge to share.

 I hope you too feel inspired to discover yet another plant ally with me. And I am sure that a lot of you have already experienced the healing power of the rose.
 The last thing I want to share with you is a very simple and easy recipe for a rose elixir. It is also beautiful and delicious. You will need a mason jar in a size of your choice. I prefer a quart wide mouth jar when I make remedies for myself, as I feel it provides me with enough to enjoy until next season and share with friends. Fill the jar of your choice with rose petals. If you prefer a more medicinal and stronger elixir, use both petals and young green leaves. When you are done playing outside, and your jar is full of fragrant roses, fill it a quarter of the way with raw local honey or vegetable glycerin, and the rest with alcohol of you choice. I used raw honey and 80 proof vodka in mine, as I did not want a high alcohol content for this elixir. Leave it on the counter and admire the color changes for a few weeks. When you are ready, strain it and keep it in a cool dark place. Enjoy it in your tea at night or as part of your moon time routine, or simply when you need to add a little beauty to your being.

 Summer is the time of discovery for us herbalists. Play outside and be adventurous!