By Amy Jirsa
In “Herbal Goddess,” herbalist and yoga teacher Amy Jirsa introduces unique, practical ways to include herbs in your daily life, including medicinal healing, food and lifestyle practices.
Cover courtesy Storey Publishing
Herbal Goddess (Storey Publishing, 2015) is herbalist and yoga teacher Amy Jirsa’s guide to the restorative powers of herbs, including recipes and ideas for healing teas, nourishing foods, and beauty and health treatments. This excerpt introduces the benefits of roses, and how to use the plant for teas and healing properties.
You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Herbal Goddess.
Rediscovering the Most Romantic Bloom
Ah, roses; ah, love. Enter a beautiful medicinal with the most romantic history (and associations). No matter where you fall on the love it/hate it rose-love symbolism spectrum, you have to admit that there’s nothing like the jolt from the sight and smell of a rose (a species of the Rosa genus). Casting love and its myriad consequences aside, roses (as herbs) are soothing and therapeutic to the body, mind, and spirit.
Now, we’re not talking the seriously sexy, long-stemmed, perfectly velvet-red roses you find for a zillion dollars a dozen in any florist’s Valentine window display. We’re talking the untamed, undomesticated, uncultivated, wily, wanton, and wild rose (my favorite varietal is Rosa rugosa, or the rugosa rose). As you develop your relationship with these medicinal herbs, you’ll find that, just like people, you get better results when you just let them live the way they want to live.
For the Body
In herbal medicine, we use the petals and fruit (rosehips) of the rose. Rose petals are mildly sedative, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-parasitic. They’re also mild laxatives, a good supportive tonic for the heart, and great for lowering cholesterol (romantic, right?). The antiseptic nature of rose petals makes them a wonderful treatment for wounds, bruises, rashes, and incisions. Taken internally, their anti-inflammatory properties make them a wonderful treatment for sore throats or ulcers. They can stimulate the liver and increase appetite and circulation.
Got flu? Rose can also lower your body temperature and help bring down a fever or cool you off in the summer. As an anti-spasmodic, it helps relieve spasms in the respiratory system (asthma and coughs), in the intestinal tract (cramping, constipation), and in the muscles (cramps and sports injuries). Adding its antiviral qualities, you’ve got an entire winter’s medicine chest in one herb.
The benefits don’t stop there, however! Rose petals (and we’re just talking the petals here, not the leaves) are an emmenagogue, which means this herb can help regulate and bring on delayed menstrual cycles (as a caution, avoid taking this herb internally if you are pregnant). They’re also a uterine tonic — healing cysts, infections, and bleeding. And, just like the essential oil, rose petals are a nervine; they help soothe and calm the nervous system, easing tension and pain.
Okay, so that’s just the flower. (What?! There’s more?!) Once the flower has run its course, we’re left with rosehips, or the fruit of the rose. Rosehips are wonderful little packages that are delicious in teas or even substituted for your favorite fruit in recipes for preserves. High in vitamin C, especially, but also containing vitamins A, B3, D, and E, rosehips are an effective nutritive — especially helpful during the long cold and flu season. Rosehips are also a strong antioxidant, protecting you from the ravaging effects of the free radicals that are a part of any urban lifestyle.
Rosehips also contain iron, which is therapeutic for anemia as well as for easing pain and discomfort during one’s monthly cycle. Their flavonoid content makes rosehips strong antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals (read: anti-aging tonic for inner and outer beauty). Their anti-inflammatory nature helps soothe all kinds of pain, including arthritis, gout, and sore muscles.
One batch of rose petal tea can have many uses. For your base infusion, pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 to 4 teaspoons of dried rose petals. Cover and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Apply that base tea to any of the following:
Cough and cold remedy
Blend the base tea with 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey (a natural sore-throat soother and cough suppressant), plus a dash of lemon and/or brandy to taste. Both the lemon and the brandy are optional, but they do wonders for a stubborn cough, especially one that’s kept you up for a few nights.
When you’re under the weather (you know, below the belt), a strong tea full of tannins is helpful in treating diarrhea and bladder infections. Use a teaspoon more of the dried herb than usual and drink a cup without milk or sweetener. Repeat every 45 minutes to an hour, as needed. If the diarrhea is especially uncomfortable, you may bring on faster relief by adding a dash of black tea to the rose petals.
Use 4 teaspoons dried hips or 4 tablespoons fresh per cup of water and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. This makes a tangy, sour tea loaded with vitamin C. For a little variation, pour this hot infusion over 1 teaspoon spearmint leaves or toss a little ginger in with the hips while simmering. This tea is great chilled or heated, depending on how you feel. But let me tell you, there’s nothing like rosehip and ginger tea laced with stevia and a splash of vanilla almond milk in the midst of a snowstorm . . . bliss!
Rose Recipes from Herbal Goddess
Excerpted from: Herbal Goddess (c) Amy Jirsa. Photography by (c) Winnie Au. Used with permission of Storey Publishing. Buy this book from our store: Herbal Goddess.