Rose Oil is a wonderfully fragrant essential oil that is extracted from the Rosa Damascena species. This essential oil provides not only a lovely fragrance but also a wealth of therapeutic benefits. However, there are only two countries in the world with the right conditions to grow sufficient quantities of this flower to produce the essential oil. This includes the Bulgarian Valley of the Roses and other locations in Turkey.

The Medicinal Use of Rose Oil Throughout History

The medicinal use of rose oil is well known throughout history. In addition to being a major ingredient in perfumes, the use of rose oil dates back thousands of years. Hippocrates advocated using rose oil products in vapor baths and incense therapy. It was also used as a cure for “miasmas”.

Egyptian papyruses show that rose oil was considered a universal medicine in ancient Egypt where rose products were used in balms and preparations.

Today, rose products are used to treat a variety of health issues. There are a number of therapeutic effects including antispasmodic, hypnotic and even to treat abdominal pain. Rose oil is also used in skincare products. While it is suitable for all skin types, it is particularly useful with sensitive, dry or aging skin. The astringent effects work just below the skin surface to diminish the redness associated with enlarged capillaries. It can also soothe irritated skin as it has antiseptic qualities.

However, it is important to use a product that contains good quality, natural rose oil, as synthetics have no therapeutic value.

The Origins of the Rosa Damascena Rose

This specific variety of rose to produce the essential oil has a debated parentage. At one time it was thought to be a hybrid of Rosa canina and Rosa gallica, but the recent plant genetic identification advances have led to the belief that it is more likely to be a Rosa gallica and Rosa phoenicia hybrid.

The Bulgarian Rosa Damascena has been cultivated for hundreds of years and it is considered to be the best oil producing rose in the world. The cultivation began in the 16th century, but producers found the rose was very sensitive to climate and soil conditions. It was found that the best area for growing the flower was in the Kazanlak area of Bulgaria, which is now known as the Valley of the Roses. This valley is shaded by both the Balkan Mountain and Sredna Gora, which creates favourable climate and geographical conditions for growing and harvesting this rose variety.

How the Rose Oil is Produced

The rose oil is extracted from the flower blossoms through water distillation, which creates an extremely potent fragrance. The fresh flowers are picked early in the morning and with steam distillation, they produce a yield of up to 0.05%. As the heat used during distillation is carefully controlled, so there is no damage to the aroma.

This produces a rose oil with over 275 macro and micro components. The primary chemical components are geraniol, citronellol and nerol. However, one of the most important trace components is β-damascenone. Despite having a low concentration of 0.01%, it has an influence on the overall quality of the oil.

Creating rose oil is quite an intensive process. It takes over 10,000 of the freshly picked rose blossoms to create 5 millilitres of essential oil. Since the petals are delicate, the distillation process needs to happen on the same day as the flower harvesting.

This means that before the sun has crested the Bulgarian horizon, the rose blooms are picked and ready to produce this sweet and floral essential oil.

Potential Benefits of Rose Oil

As we touched on above, today rose oil is considered to offer numerous potential benefits. Even at a 10% dilution, it is still a very potent oil that could help you.

Alleviate Pain:

Rose oil is thought to stimulate the brain to release the “feel good” hormone endorphins. A research study found that a group of patients who inhaled rose oil before an operation reported a decrease in their pain levels. This suggests that using rose oil during aromatherapy could provide an effective way to alleviate pain.

Relief from Discomfort:

Rose oil could also provide relief from discomfort for those struggling with menstrual pain. Massaging rose oil mixed into a carrier oil on to the abdomen could relieve cramping.

Reduce Anxiety:

Rose oil can provide a relaxing effect for many people. Applying rose oil to the skin can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and can encourage a feeling of relaxation and calm. Whether you’re prone to feeling overwhelmed, or you are anticipating a period of stress, you may find that using rose oil can reduce your feelings of anxiety.

Lifts Mood:

Clinical studies suggest that rose oil may also lift depressive symptoms and lift the mood. Aromatherapy with rose oil could significantly lift your mood, as it can stimulate the brain chemical dopamine.

Stimulates the Libido:

Inhaling rose oil could also stimulate the libido if you’re feeling a little lacklustre in the bedroom. As we touched on above, rose oil can encourage the release of dopamine, which not only lifts the mood but may increase sexual desire.

Antifungal and Antibacterial Properties:

Rose oil also has antifungal and antibacterial properties that could be effective against infection causing microbes. This means that it may provide some protection against seasonal illnesses.

How to Use Rose Oil

Rose oil is highly potent, so whether you plan on using it on your skin or inhaling it, you should dilute it with a carrier oil. There are a number of ways that you can use your rose oil including:

  • Inhalation: You can either put a few drops in your diffuser or dab a little on your wrists, neck and chest. If you have skin sensitivity issues, you may want to make sure that you dilute it to a lower concentration with your carrier oil.
  • Add to your bath: If you want to relax, add approximately 10 drops of your rose oil to a carrier oil and add the mixture to a warm bath. You could also add a few drops of your diluted rose oil into a foot bath to soak your feet for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Use in an oil blend: Rose essential oil blends well with citrus, floral and resin oils. It can complement lavender, bergamot, ginger, lemon, cardamom and chamomile if you want to create a unique oil blend to use in your beauty regime or around your home.

Potential Side Effects of Rose Oil

There are currently no known side effects associated with rose oil. However, it is a good idea to perform a skin patch test before your first use to ensure there is no irritation or itching.

You should also avoid inhaling undiluted rose oil, as it may cause a headache. Bear in mind that due to its potency, rose oil is not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Be sure to avoid contact with your eyes, or other sensitive areas of the body.

Is There A Difference Between Rose Oil and Rosehip Seed Oil?

Since rose oil is one of the more costly essential oils, you may wonder if you could enjoy similar benefits with rosehip seed oil.

However, there is a key difference that affects how the oil is used and the potential benefits. While rose oil is made using the petals of Rosa Damascena flowers, the rosehip seed oil is made from the seeds and fruit beneath the rose bloom. This is the part of the rose that you see when the petals wilt and drop off the flower. This means that rosehip seed oil is not as concentrated and it doesn’t have the same potent characteristics as rose oil.

Typically, rosehip oil is used as a carrier oil rather than for use as an essential oil.

Bulgarian Rosa Damascena 


Tips for Purchasing Rose Oil

As we have mentioned, if you want to explore the potential of rose oil, it is important to choose a good quality oil. Essential oil sourced from Rosa Damascena has a higher oil content compared to the Rosa Centifolia varieties. So, it is important to check the plant’s Latin name to discover the oil source and country of origin.

Bear in mind that light can damage essential oils, so look for oil in darker coloured bottles.

Rose oil is a versatile essential oil that can be used topically, inhaled, or added to beauty products. It offers a number of benefits and can impart a sweet and romantic scent to your skin or room. While this oil is one of the more costly essential oils, remember that it is very potent and even a 0.10% dilution can offer some great benefits.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.