Why would you want to drink rose water? Besides the pretty name, it has some surprising benefits. But first, a little background.
Rose water comes from the Rosa damascene, a species of the Rosaceae plant, a well-known ornamental plant that's called the king of flowers. The extract of the damask rose isn't just for perfuming. The plant contains several components such as terpenes, glycosides, flavonoids and anthocyanins that have beneficial effects on health.
Rose water was traditionally scattered at weddings to ensure a happy marriage and as a symbol of love and purity used in meditation and prayer.
Cultivated in Iran with more than 18,000 cultivars, Iranians call the plant the "flower of prophet Muhammad" because they believe the scent reminds them of him.
Rosa damascene is used for rose water and rose essential oil. It's believed to have numerous medicinal benefits and has been used as an analgesic, bronchodilator, anti-convulsive, anti-microbial and as an anti-inflammatory.
It’s also been used as cough syrup, to treat reflux, as a laxative, and to reduce blood sugar. The oil is said to treat depression, grief and stress. It also may have benefits for wound healing, allergies, skin conditions and headaches.
While clinical studies are neutral, rose water has been used for centuries since the time of Cleopatra. Because the water is soothing, spraying the face with rosewater or using it during facials is quite popular says Denise Baron, a wellness and lifestyle expert with a background in ayurveda and Chinese medicine.
"Rose water also contains various vitamins: A, C, E, and B and it's especially great for depression as well as for those with sore throats."
"Sometimes gargling or holding rose water in the back of the mouth will help inflamed sore throats," says Baron. Digesting it by sipping rose water tea is also hydrating and cooling.
Many cultures today still use rose water-infused food and drink to sooth and cool down a cranky toddler or anyone uncomfortable in the summer heat.
You can make rose water at home by storing rose petals in a jar filled with distilled water and steeping in the sun for 2 days. (We have a full how-to linked below.) To make rose water tea, steep a handful of rose petals in boiling water for 10 minutes and strain. Pink and red petals make the most fragrant tea. You can also buy commercially prepared rose water. Drink up to two cups daily.
So why should you drink it?
Though there's not a lot of research behind the beneficial claims, here's why proponents of rose water believe you should drink up.
- Drink rose water to hydrate the skin from the inside. Well-hydrated skin looks and feels plump and healthy.
- Drink rose water, said to have anti-aging properties, to help with skin aging by reducing wrinkles, lightening dark spots and tightening pores.
- Drink rose water as a mood enhancer, to relieve depression or stress and improve mood.
- Drink rose water to relieve digestion troubles like bloating, upset tummy and constipation.
- Drink rose water to help heal from colds, flu and sore throats. It may have a bronchodilator effect and help with respiratory illness.
- Drink rose water to calm nerves when feeling frazzled.
- Drink rose water to relieve fluid retention and inflammation.