The fragrance of rose has inspired poets and lovers throughout the ages. The Greek poetess Sappho christened it "queen of flowers" in 600 BC. Although originally distilled in Asia Minor, today Bulgaria is the world's largest producer, making the most valued rose oil. Turkey still produces a slightly less expensive oil, although all rose oil is costly, not just because so little is produced during distillation but because the bushes themselves need so much care. It is very nontoxic, and specific for women's problems.
Extraction: Distilled (rose otto) or solvent extracted (rose absolute) from blossoms. Unlike most essential oils, rose oil is difficult to separate from water because its constituents are very water-soluble, so it is distilled at least twice. The resulting rose otto congeals at cool room temperature because of its natural waxes. Rose water is a by-product of distillation. The fragrance of rose is wonderfully intense, sweet and floral, and it is easily recognized.
Medicinal Action: Rose treats asthma, hay fever, liver problems, nausea, most female disorders and impotency in men. Tests reveal that it increases the sperm count. "Honey of Red Rose" was recommended for sore mouths and throats in U.S. and British pharmacopoeias.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: A cell rejuvenator, rose soothes and heals burns and all skin complexion types. It is also strongly antiseptic and fights infection. Although it is nontoxic, strong solutions can irritate the face.
Emotional Attribute: Rose helps alleviate depression and lack of confidence. It has long inspired love and "opens" the heart. Employed for relationship conflicts, envy and intolerance, it is comforting, supportive during crisis and an aphrodisiac.
Cabbage Rose (R. centifolia) --Also called "rose de mai," this oil is less expensive than its Bulgarian counterpart. Once cultivated extensively in France, cabbage rose now comes mostly from Morocco.