The moment I arrived in New Mexico, with its red volcanic rock faces and lush green river banks, I knew I was home. Here in the Gila, Wild Roses grow in thick protective hedges along the river, enticing with their scent and wondrous in their effects.
There are as many varieties of Rose as there are shades of green, and every kind holds some profound therapeutic value. My favorite variety is the New Mexico Wild Rose (R. neomexicana), the very same beauty that graces the river banks and cliff bottoms of this wild canyon sanctuary deep in the heart of the Gila, but any strongly scented, old-fashioned or wild Rose can be used medicinally. Here in the Southwest, Roses are close companions of rivers and streams. They ramble and spread across damp grassy banks in the dappled shadow of the Alders. My memories of every May harvesting the sweet petals of the Wild Rose are entwined with the sensations of standing calf deep in mossy pools and scrambling up the cool cliff wall to reach an almost out of reach blossom. When I dream of their flowers, I hear the water’s currents singing somewhere nearby.
If you currently drink a foreign tea like Green tea or Honeybush or Roobois for the anti-oxidants, well Rose/Rosehips pretty much meets or beats them in that department. Plus, they’re a local, sustainable source for most people in the US that can usually be gathered and processed absolutely free. The entire plant is incredibly anti-inflammatory, I have found all parts of the rose to be strongly anti-inflammatory, and have used a liniment of rose petals for traumatic injuries, sore muscles and chronic muscoskeletal pain in individual. A wonderful relaxant, Rose excels at moving stuck energy and relieving tension in the liver/gallbladder area. And of course, it makes a wonderful heart-settling nervine suitable for nearly anyone, gentle enough for a baby. I use Rose as a standard remedy for any cold or flu type illness, the hip is traditional for this but I often use both hip and petal in my preparations.
Rose oil can be used externally for menstrual cramps and Rose petal infused wine for uterine cramps and labor pains. I find that Rose works best internally for cramps when both hip and petal are used and are appropriately combined other herbs such as Mugwort or Peony root. Diluted Rose petal vinegar is amazing for sunburns, clearing the heat from the skin and relieving a great percentage of the pain. A universal remedy for sore, inflamed eyes and even cataracts. Petals are most often used, but many indigenous tribes used the roots. Rose leaf spit poultices are great for bug bites and cuts and scratches, Rose petals will work too, but it’s usually easier to get a leaf most times of the year.
Preparations & Dosage: Rose can be prepared just about any way you can think of. As a nervine or heart medicine I prefer a fresh plant tincture/elixir of the flowers, leaves or hips made with brandy, and perhaps 10-15% of honey or glycerine. The tincture will work great for mosquito bites, burns, sore throats and many other things as well. It also makes a fine liniment for nerve pain, muscle inflammation or similar issues. I use a dosage of anything from a drop or two as a nervine to a couple dropperfuls for a sore throat or upset belly. The infused vinegar is great for sunburns, salad dressing, headaches and sore muscles. and can be made with fresh or dried petals, it can be used diluted or straight, as needed. The oil of the petals is trickier, and usually requires a high volume of petals, freshly dried and twice infused in oil to make something that really smells like Rose. The hydrosol is great for SO many things, and the dried petal or petal and leaf makes a wonderful tea or infusion for either external or internal use. Fresh petals or leaves make a great poultice. Rose petal mead is something every person should try before they die, it’s amazing. Rose infused honey is delicious and a wonderful medicine. Dosage on all of these is pretty much to taste and as needed.
In a couple of weeks I will be leaving my Gila home to host the annual Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference in nearby Cloudcroft, and hope to meet many of you in person there. Until next time, enjoy the blessings and delights of New Mexico’s healthful plants!
Kiva Rose & Jesse Wolf Hardin are N.M. authors and artists, caring for a wilderness botanical sanctuary. Their many books on healing, herbs, nature wisdom and sense of place can be found on the Bookstore page of their Plant Healer website, where you can also subscribe to Plant Healer Magazine, and sign up for the free Herbaria ezine full of herbal info and tips: www.PlantHealer.org For more information on September’s Traditions In Western Herbalism Conference or to purchase tickets, go to: wwwPlantHealer.org/intro.html
by Kiva Rose Hardin
Plant Healer Magazine