Roses are red, water is blue, and when you put them together you have a powerful natural healing product that’s been around for thousands of years called rose water.
While rose water has gained traction over the years for its beauty benefits, it’s also chock full of health benefits, making it an overall holistic must-have. It’s no wonder that Cleopatra herself is rumored to have been a big fan of the fragrant stuff.
Indigenous to Iran, rose water contains ten to fifty percent rose oil, says Dr. Ceppie Merry, FRCPI PhD, and “contains several components such as terpenes, glycosides, flavonoids, and anthocyanins that have beneficial effects on human health.”
According to Merry, rose water has been suggested to have hypnotic, analgesic, anticonvulsant, respiratory, cardiovascular, laxative, anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Phew!
Curious about how this potent plant can help your body? Read on to learn more of its rosy perks.
Soothes skin irritation and redness
Rose water is best used topically as a spray or in a moisturizer. Its inherent anti-inflammatory properties can reduce skin erythema and edema (puffiness), Dr. John Layke tells SheKnows.
“Topical application of rose water has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which can soothe eczema and rosacea-prone skin,” says Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, board-certified in both dermatology and dermatopathology. “Further, it can have anti-aging effects through its ability to prevent collagen breakdown.” While it’s best used topically as a spray or in a moisturizer, Mudgil reminds us that because some folks can be allergic and sensitive to rose water (usually from other ingredients mixed in), it’s important to be mindful of this before applying it.
“When you have sensitive skin, it’s more likely that you’ll mount a response to irritating/allergy causing chemicals,” Mudgil says. “Fragrances and essential oils contain a lot of allergens and can be very irritating, even in individuals who don’t have sensitive skin. The more sensitive your skin is the more likely it is that you won’t be able to tolerate very fragrant products or products that contain essential oils.”
Soothes stomach problems
If you suffer from indigestive issues, according to Dr. Payman Danielpour, rose water can help with gastrointestinal ailments when taken orally. “Rose water is thought to increase bile flow, which can help with bloating and discomfort,” he explains
Meghan Sedivy, MS, RD, LDN Registered Dietitian, agrees. “Rose water has been associated with helping to relieve unwanted bloating and symptoms of an upset stomach, and it may even help to keep digestion regulated” when used as a mild laxative.
Increases hair growth
Rose water is packed with vitamin C, says Sedivey, which helps boost immune function and aids in the production of collagen, a protein that is essential for healthy skin and hair growth.
Helps ease anxiety
Feeling anxious or a little down? Then you might want to try some rose water aromatherapy. “Properties found in rose water inhibit amyloid, which is an abnormal protein fragment that inhibits brain cell function,” says Danielpour. “Rose water has been shown to have anti-depressive and anti-anxiety properties via inhalation, creating a mood altering feeling.”
Boosts iron absorption
Another bonus? Sedivery says ingesting rose water increases iron absorption when paired with iron-rich foods, like lentils, tofu, baked potatoes, spinach, and shellfish.
Soothes sore throats
If you’re feeling a cold coming on, skip the aspirin and reach for rose water, says Layke. Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, as well as containing vitamins B,C,E and A, “rose water can be used to treat the symptoms of a common cold, such as sore throat.”
Mudgil adds, “drinking rose water is helpful for a sore throat due to its antimicrobial effect and the local effect of its potent antioxidants on the lining of the throat.”
Helps treat infections
“Rose petals, in addition to being rich in vitamin C, also contain polyphenols, which are plant-derived compounds with strong antioxidant properties that may help combat inflammation in the body,” says Sedivey.
One study found that when rose water was used in eye drops to treat conjunctivitis cases, its antiseptic and analgesic properties helped with treatment.
While it certainly seems like rose water is a cure-all, Dr. Merry warns that “we have no reliable scientific data on rose water because the only studies that we have are limited to pre-clinical studies or studies on fruit flies, mice, rats or guinea pigs.” That means when it comes to treating ailments with rose water, do so with an open mind and the knowledge that another treatment might be right for you. But no matter what, at least you’ll end up smelling like a rose.