Rose water is an aromatic, transparent liquid prepared by steeping rose petals in water. It can also be prepared by steam-distilling rose petals in water. Owing to its sweet aroma, rose water is often used as a perfume. However, rose water also possesses culinary as well as therapeutic values. In fact, rose water has been traditionally used in medicine in many parts of the world since the 7th century, especially in Iran and several regions of the Middle East.
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Since rose water is prepared from rose petals and water, either by steeping the petals in water or steam-distilling them, it is deemed to be a by-product of the process used to make rose essential oil. In fact, rose essential oil is made using the steam distillation process to isolate the volatile oils present in rose. The concentration of rose water is not as that of rose oil, but even rose water encloses the valuable compounds that are present in rose petals. In fact, rose water also contains very small amounts of rose oil.
Rose water is usually made with the petals of damask rose plants (scientific name Rosa damascena), but even cabbage rose petals (scientific name (Rosa centifolia) can also be used to make rose water. The formal name of distilled rose water according to the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) is Rosa damascena flower distillate.
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Rosa damascena or damask rose is a member of the Rosaceae family, which roughly includes about 200 types of rose species. It is worth mentioning here that all rose plants are loaded with antioxidants such as flavonoids and several types of vitamins. This is the reason why rose water is said to be mildly astringent, skin moisturizer and soother as well as an excellent cleanser. It also moisturizes and soothes the hair.
For the uninitiated, rose plants are believed to be "holy ancient herbs". According to a number of available records, there is a long history of using rose water. In fact, the use of rose water dates back to the ancient Romans. Much before commercial cleansers and perfumes were available in the market, people used rose water for its sweet floral aroma as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Many believe that even Cleopatra used rose essential oil and rose water to preserve the natural beauty of her skin. It is said she probably also used rose oil and rose water for their aphrodisiac properties.
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In ancient times, people in Babylonia used rose essential oil as well as rose water in various medicines and rituals. Traditionally, people in India and Iran also used rose water to enhance the flavour of their royal cuisines. They also used rose water for its therapeutic properties, which included its aptitude to alleviate pain, provide relief from abdominal pain, heal infections, and cure digestive problems. Rose water also helps to treat problems related to the heart and ease menstrual cramps.
Rose water possesses a number of therapeutic properties and, hence, offers several health benefits. Rose water possesses remarkable anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to alleviate skin irritation, lessen redness of the skin, provide relief from headache, delay the natural aging process, and shield us against various infections and so on.
In case you experience skin irritation too often, remember it could be an indication of chronic inflammation. Alternatively, regular skin irritation may also be a sign of eczema, psoriasis or even rosacea. Since rose water contains anti-inflammatory compounds, use of this aromatic, watery liquid may help to get rid of the discomfort and, at the same time, accelerate the healing process as it contains lots of antioxidant compounds.
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Our immune system works in all areas of our body. However, in some instances, you may want to suppress the activities of the immune system or make its actions further effective. Using rose water can be helpful in getting rid of redness and swelling associated with inflammation, thereby helping the facial skin, skin on the chest or neck to return to its normal color as this aromatic liquid possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties.
It is known that certain volatile compounds present in roses possess anti-bacterial properties. Hence, using this aromatic water is a wonderful way to protect our immune system and, at the same time, prevent the pathogens from attacking the largest organ of our body - the skin - and protect it from various infections.
Similarly, a number of active ingredients of rose water possess antioxidant properties. In other words, these ingredients are capable of tracking and counteracting the harmful free radicals even before they can cause any serious harm to our body. As far as rose water's anti-aging effects on our skin are concerned, using this aromatic water on a regular basis can be helpful in preventing age spots, wrinkles and blemishes from appearing on the skin.
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It has been found that several aromatic compounds present in rose water have some effect on the levels of our hormones, which include the neurotransmitters in our brain. The aroma of rose water, when used in any perfume or a cosmetic product, can be helpful in elevating our mood. At the same time, it can help to provide relief from symptoms related to depression. In addition, application of rose water can also be useful in treating headaches.
Several people also use rose water in hair masks and this can be helpful in soothing inflammation on their scalp. Often inflammation on the scalp can also lead to dandruff and hair loss. Therefore, applying rose water on the scalp helps to put off these problems. Moreover, rose water also makes the hair stronger, enhances the shine and texture of the hair and helps to get rid of split ends.
The pH of our skin is usually between 4.1 and 5.8. The pH of rose water is also somewhat similar - between 4.0 and 4.5. Findings of a study showed that skin care products containing rose water and having a pH between 4.0 and 5.0 can help to reduce irritation of skin and also preserve the natural pH levels of our skin.
In addition to the above mentioned health benefits of rose water, people also consider this aromatic water to be unbelievably calming and refreshing for our skin. At the same time, its regular application on the skin helps to inhibit the aging of the skin. Often, people use rose water as a toner with the view to minimize the puffiness of the eyes, keep the skin moisturized and soothe sunburns. If you wish to reduce the puffiness of your eyes, soak cotton pads with cold rose water and press them in the affected areas.
As discussed earlier, rose water possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which may prove to be helpful in easing respiratory problems by curing sore throats and alleviating the need to cough. In turn, these may help in healing the issues of the respiratory tract. At the same time, rose water also tracks the cause of the infection (if any).
Inhaling fumes of rose water helps to enhance mood and it is understood that this water also has de-stressing effects that, in turn, help in treating migraines and headaches. For some time now, people have been using rose water for aromatherapy and you can also apply rose water to a cloth and place the wet cloth on the forehead to experience similar results.
It has been found that ingesting rose water has beneficial consequences on our digestive system. Rose water helps to augment the flow of bile, which, in turn, helps to ease symptoms related to several common complaints related to the digestive tract, such as upset stomach and bloating.
Oral intake of rose water also serves the purpose of a laxative. This aromatic water is capable of enhancing the water content in feces and also the regularity of going to the toilet. In fact, consumption of rose water is an excellent cure for constipation.
Use of rose water does not produce any noteworthy side effects. Nevertheless, since rose water also contains very small amount of rose essential oil, which may result in allergic reactions in some people. Therefore, it is prudent to undertake a patch test prior to using rose water. People who are sensitive to rose water may experience conditions like burning, itching, rashes or redness and even a stinging sensation.
All the above mentioned conditions are indications of allergic reactions. In case you experience any of these after using rose water, it is advisable that you check with a dermatologist right away.