Rose water is a liquid distilled from petals of flowering plants in the Rosaceae rose family. For hundreds of years, this distillation has been used for ceremonial, cosmetic, and medicinal purposes. There are more than 18,000 cultivars or strains of Rosaceae roses. The original cultivars came from ancient Greece and Persia, and the most well-known is Rosa damascena, also known as the Damask rose, the rose of Castile, and the "king of flowers."
Perfumes and skincare products contain rose water extract or essential oils that provide light, long-lasting floral scents. Rose water has moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial effects that can soothe rosacea, acne, and other skin conditions. It also contains antioxidants that protect skin from UV radiation and pollutants. Work rose water into a regular skincare routine by choosing products that use it as an ingredient, or simply adding essential oils to baths or spritzing pure rose water.
Rose water is a traditional remedy for soothing sore throats and relieving symptoms of respiratory illness. It contains ethanolic and aqueous extracts with antitussive properties that relax muscles in the throat and chest to ease coughing. It also contains ethanolic essential oils that act as bronchodilators to expand airways and reduce congestion. Rose water vapors ease the effects of chronic inflammatory respiratory illnesses such as COPD and emphysema.
Rose water essential oils and fresh flowers have been used to treat wounds for over 300 years. The plant contains citrenellol, geraniol, and nero, three compounds with bactericidal effects against 15 strains of bacteria, including E. coli and S. aureus. Rose water also has mild antifungal properties and extracts often contain high levels of phenylethyl alcohol, which prevents and treats infection in superficial wounds.
Rose water contains ethanolic extracts with positive effects on the central nervous system. People inhale rose water vapors or drink the liquid to improve mood and treat depression, grief, stress, and tension. Rose water may help treat conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia because it can help inhibit the production of amyloid proteins associated with cognitive decline.
Rose water first arrived in Europe during the Middle Ages in candies such as marzipan and Turkish delight. It was one of the most common flavorings in America until vanilla became widely available in the late 1800s. Rose water infuses baked and roasted foods with hints of vanilla, nut, and fruit, and it adds an aromatic, floral flavor to sweet and savory dishes. It acts as a digestive aid by increasing bile flow, reducing bloating and indigestion. Rose water also helps relieve acid reflux, and it acts as a mild laxative by increasing water content in the stool.
Studies show the methanol extracts and nine other compounds in rose water extracts and distilled oils have anti-HIV effects. The compounds act on different stages of the virus and inhibit replication in certain cells. Despite this, rose water extract should never be relied on to treat an infection. HIV must be managed with medications and treatments prescribed by qualified medical professionals. However, some people could benefit from rose water supplements as part of a medically approved treatment plan.
Rose water extract mixed into juice is a traditional remedy for numerous illnesses. It is also popular in aromatherapy because it contains compounds that act against bacteria, viruses, and fungus. Aldehydes in rose water tonics reduce fever and have antiseptic properties. Rose water also contains methanol compounds that increase insulin efficiency and help stabilize glucose levels to manage diabetes or pre-diabetes. Tonics and distilled oils are herbal remedies for yeast infections, and the anti-inflammatory effects can help relieve menstrual cramps.
Rose water extracts enhance and strengthen the immune system. High levels of natural antioxidants in phenolic compounds are present in the fruits, leaves, roots, and bark of plants in the Rosaceae family. Extracts of the fresh or dried flowers are packed with antioxidants and flavonoids that protect the body from damaging free radicals. Rose water tea is refreshing and an easy way to consume antioxidants and other beneficial components.
Rose water extract contains polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamins A, B, C, D, and E. These nutrients strengthen hair and increase blood flow to the scalp, helping reduce dandruff. Antioxidants protect hair from UV radiation. Rose water also contains naturally occurring paraffin that reduces frizziness by smoothing the hair shaft and locking in moisture. A mixture of three or four drops of rose water essential oil with a half-gallon of water makes a great rinse after shampooing.
Rose water essential oil contains geraniol, eugenol, and flavonoids. These substances influence neurotransmitters and cause mild hypnotic effects. The flavonoids have anti-convulsive properties, while geraniol and eugenol may enhance the effects of anti-seizure medications. Some medical practitioners recommend rose water essential oil in conjunction with seizure medication to reduce the frequency and duration of seizures in children.
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