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Rose Oil

What Should You Know About Rose Oil?

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Updated August 13, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Is Rose Oil?

Rose oil is an essential oil commonly used in aromatherapy. It contains the rose plant's aromatic compounds, which are thought to possess certain healing properties.

How Does Rose Oil Work?

According to aromatherapy practitioners, inhaling essential oil molecules (or absorbing essential oils through the skin) transmits messages to the limbic system (a brain region responsible for controlling emotions and influencing the nervous system). These messages are believed to affect biological factors such as heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.

Benefits and Uses of Rose Oil

Although research on rose oil's health effects is limited, studies suggest that the essential oil may be useful for the following:

1) Stress and Anxiety Relief

In a 2009 study of 40 healthy volunteers, scientists found that those who took in rose oil through their skin felt more relaxed than those who were treated with a placebo. Study members who received rose oil also had a greater decrease in breathing rate and blood pressure than those who received the placebo.

In an earlier study, published in 2004, inhalation of rose oil was found to lower anxiety in a group of rats.

2) Menopausal Symptoms

For a 2008 study of 52 women undergoing menopause, researchers assigned 25 participants to weekly massages with several essential oils (including lavender and jasmine oils in addition to rose and rose geranium oils). After eight weeks, the study members who received massages reported a significantly greater improvement in menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes) than those who weren't massaged. However, the study authors were unable to attribute the positive effects to aromatherapy, massage, or the combination of the two therapies.

3) Menstrual Cramps

Topically applied rose oil (when combined with lavender and clary sage oils) may be effective in decreasing the severity of menstrual cramps, according to a 2006 study of 67 female college students. For the study, a blend containing one drop of rose, two drops of lavender, one drop of clary sage, and 5 cc of almond oil was applied in form of an abdominal massage.

How to Use Rose Oil

When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), rose oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths.

Rose oil also can be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue (or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer).

Rose oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional.

Rose Oil and Aromatherapy Massage

Because of the soothing effects and pleasant scent, rose oil is a popular component of aromatherapy massage.

Learn more about the benefits and safety concerns associated with aromatherapy massage.

Sources:

de Almeida RN, Motta SC, de Brito Faturi C, Catallani B, Leite JR. "Anxiolytic-like effects of rose oil inhalation on the elevated plus-maze test in rats." Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004 77(2):361-4.

Han SH, Hur MH, Buckle J, Choi J, Lee MS. "Effect of aromatherapy on symptoms of dysmenorrhea in college students: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial." J Altern Complement Med. 2006 12(6):535-41.

Hongratanaworakit T. "Relaxing effect of rose oil on humans." Nat Prod Commun. 2009 4(2):291-6.

Hur MH, Yang YS, Lee MS. "Aromatherapy massage affects menopausal symptoms in korean climacteric women: a pilot-controlled clinical trial." Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008 5(3):325-8.

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