Wild Rose (Rosa canina)
Wild Rose, the remedy for those who are apathetic, is made by the boiling method.
Rosa canina, or dog rose, is usually found growing in hedgerows. The leaves were traditionally used as a laxative and the seeds as a diuretic. Use of the dog rose to treat bites from rabid dogs may have led to its common name. Alternatively, this may have been a corruption of ‘dag rose’ referring to the sharp thorns, like daggers.
The fruits, known as rosehips, are a good source of vitamin C as well as other vitamins and flavonoids. According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, rosehips contain 426 mg of vitamin C/100 g fruit, compared to 50–60 for oranges or their juice and 29.1 for limes. During World War II, British schoolchildren gathered the hips and these were usually made into a syrup, used to ensure sufficient vitamin C was consumed.
Rosehip syrup is still taken today as a tonic and to reduce tiredness. Rosehips are also used to treat conditions of the bladder and kidneys and to reduce pain in osteoarthritis sufferers. The hairs around the seeds cause itching and ground rosehips are used in some commercial itching powders.
Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, is needed in the body to protect cells and keep them healthy; to maintain healthy connective tissue and to heal wounds. In the UK, the recommended daily amount required by an adult is 40 mg. A lack of vitamin C can cause scurvy but the body can’t store the vitamin and sufficient can usually obtained from the diet.
Some people advocate supplements giving doses of 1,000 mg or higher but these can cause stomach problems. Most famously, in 1971, eminent chemist Linus Pauling published claims that high doses of vitamin C could prevent the common cold and cancer. The winner of two Nobel prizes, Pauling was also a leading peace campaigner and anti-nuclear activist. However, to date there is insufficient evidence to support his ideas.
Hanging a rose over the dinner table symbolised that all confidences would be held sacred and today, the plaster ornament at the centre of a ceiling is still known as the rose. This is the origin of the phrase sub rosa, meaning in confidence or in secret.
Rose essential oil comes mainly from the damask rose (Rosa damascena) or cabbage rose (Rosa centrifolia), grown in Bulgaria and France. It takes around 10,000 flowers to produce 25 ml of oil. The oil contains a large number of chemical compounds including citronellol, geraniol, rose oxide and β-ionone. However, the compound β-damascenone is the most significant contributor to the fragrance. The quantity of β-damascenone in rose oil is used as a determinant of quality.
Damask rose was traditionally used to treat coughs, colds and eye infections and to staunch bleeding. Rose oil is used in aromatherapy for stress and grief to nurture the body and in cosmetics for mature skin.
Apothecary rose (Rosa gallica officinalis) has sedative and antidepressant properties, is an astringent and can lower cholesterol. Traditionally, petals were dried and rolled into beads which were strung into chains for religious use as a rosary. Flowers are used in pot pourri and petals sometimes used as confetti.