Among of the most magnificent plant lifeforms are roses. Romantic, practical, historical, wild, thorny, aromatic, and healing. Roses are numerous, yet in Greece we have extraordinary native wild species.
Nineteen different native species of ‘Rosa’ live on this wild rock called Greece. ‘Pas mal – not bad’ for a small piece of land as the French say.
In Greek mythology, you can find stories that roses sprouted from the nectar of Olympus Gods, spit by mistake on land by the little god Pothos while he was dancing! Pothos was the god of erotic desires beyond our possibilities. Christianity, on the other hand, has used the rose as a symbol of purity for Mary, while Turks say that roses were born of the sweat of Muhammad.
Each species has its specialty for sure, but not every species has been deeply studied regarding its properties or possible uses. The most popular one is Rosa canina. Over the last two decades, many efforts have been made in pursuit of sustainable exploitation and cultivation of the species, supported by appropriate research.
Traditionally, wild roses or Kynoroda (rosehips) in Greek have been used for thrush, amygdalitis, insomnia, diarrhea, and constipation. Globally, there are different uses in each country: as food, aromatics, or herbs.
Rosehips, the fruit of wild roses, have immense quantities of vitamin C. Fresh rosehips and rose petals (hard to find) have vitamins, tannins, essential oils, and many substances which can work as antibiotics. Fresh rose petals are astringent, helpful for purulent tonsillitis or thrush in the mouth. You can use rose petals for gargling, and it is safe also for children. Rose petal tea has healing properties – fresh petals with honey can help constipation. On the other hand, dried rose petals have been used traditionally for headaches and insomnia. You can add some orange flowers and sprigs of basil and drink it as a tea.
Rosewater is produced by a special procedure, different from distillation for essential oils. Nowadays, Greeks are proud to sell their own rosewater and essential oils, in some cases with higher quality than the Bulgaria’s, which is one of the top producers of good rosewater and essential oils. Rosewater is use both in food and cosmetics and many Greek traditional recipes for sweets have rosewater instead of water, for the aroma and sweetness.
You can use rosewater directly on your eyelids if there are irritated. Personally, when I have a ‘long onscreen working day’, I calm my eyes with rosewater spray. We are not ‘made’ to look at a screen all day, but grandma’s old trick can save the day! But be careful! The above derives from wild roses like Rosa canina, not from the ornamental, cultivated ones!
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.