It’s almost officially summer and that means you’re going to see a whole lot of flowers!
Of course, they’re beautiful, and we’re almost as obsessed with stopping to smell them as the bees, but there’s something else that makes us excited about the flowers – plant identification.
If you’re going to be using plants as medicine, properly identifying them is the most important first step. Please don’t use plants unless you are 100% sure
A good example? Hemlock (which will kill you) looks quite a bit like yarrow or wild yam (good medicines) in the early parts of the spring. SO BE CAREFUL.
Study the plants, do your research, and make monographs so you know the plant you’re working with intimately before you go making medicine Willy Nilly with it!
How to Make an Herbal Monograph
We teach this in depth within the first few classes of our Herbalist Training Programs because our students are required to create more than 100 of herbal monographs throughout the first part of their training.
What is a Herbal Monograph?
An herbal monograph is an easy guide to botanical and therapeutic information about a plant. You can buy books of monographs that are just lists of facts about individual plants.
We highly recommend finding herbal medicine books that you resonate with, that are written by trusted herbalist authors, and do your own research. This will help you connect with the plant more profoundly and you will learn more about the medicine that way.
What Information does a Monograph contain?
We encourage all of our students to find the setup and information that best supports their herbal path. You should include the most relevant information about the plant – its habitat and appearance is important along with the uses of the plant and its actions in the body. Here is a very common “shell” of an herbal monograph:
Other things you can add are things like planetary connections, how to grow the plant, recipes for eating them, other modalities like TCM or Ayurveda, folklore, flower essences, uses for pets – this is really up to you.
Since nothing is quite as identifiable as the rose, especially during this season we thought it would make a wonderful monograph to share with you.
This is a working herbal monograph from one of our students so you’ll see that it has everything from our shell plus a little bit more that suits her needs as a practitioner.
Rose, Rosa spp. Herbal Monograph
- There are 100s of cultivars but every rose is medicinally beneficial – wild roses do make the best medicine, so the rest of this description is of those.
- These can be white to pink in color (sometimes yellow, but not often)
- 5 petaled flowers (all roses family have 5 petaled flowers)
- Thorny stems
- Bright red fruits (hips)
- These guys are basically a weed that LOVE to grow! Once they’re established they are hard to get rid of.
- They are hardy perennials and you can find them almost anywhere now as a bush or a vine.
- Roses bloom best in sun to partial share
- They like well drained soil but it doesn’t need to be heavily fertilized – use tea!
- LOOVE to be watered when their soil is dry – but they don’t want to be water when their soil is wet – and they don’t want to sit in water. – like water this guy when you remember.
- They do like a lot of space, especially to grow downwards, so pot roses are the best options for these friends.
Energetics: cooling – drying – sweet and bitter
Actions: astringent, cardio tonic, antiscorbic, stomachic, diuretic, antidepressant,
Flower: essential oils, quercitrin, malic acid, tartaric acid
Hip: carotenes, Vit B1&2, C, K, E, flavonoids, calcium, iron, zinc, tannins, polyphenols, malic acid, pectin, vanillin, potassium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, selenium, silicon, sulfer
Tincture: 15-40 drops three times a day (standard tinctures making)
Infusion: 6oz three times a day (1 tsp to 8oz water steeped 10 minutes)
Infused Decoction: 4-6oz 1-2 times per day (3tsp hips to 8oz water, simmer 10 minutes, steep 8 hours)
Cold Infusion: 6oz 1 time per day between meals (2 tbsp crushed hips to 16oz water, 20 minutes)
Medicinal Uses of Rose
- To break up congestion/dry mucus
- Stop bleeding
- Clear Heat
- Helps to regulate menstrual cycles
- Promote bile
- Diarrhea (gentle)
- Honey of Rose (Modern Herbal) for sore throat and mouth ulcers
- Rose vinegar (Modern Herbal) for sun headaches – steeped and used topically
- Strengthens the heart and stomach
- Promotes digestion
- Eye bath for inflammation
- Super high in flavonoids
- Strengthen capillaries
- Improve vit C absorption
- Chronic bruising
- High cholesterol
- Night sweats
- Varicose veins
- Symbol of love
- Helps to open and feel less shame of the body – esp red rose
- White rose is quietly inspiring and renewing for energy
- Wild rose is a “remedy of independence” (McIntyre) helpful for closed, hard people – and good to help soften and warm them.
This is very safe for pets and can be used similarly to how we use it with humans.
- Rinse for dry skin
- Tea for mild colic/diarrhea
- Anti-inflammatory eye wash
- Leaves are stronger astringents and can be used for itchy skin and bites!
- Leaf decoction for cystitis secondary to infection – ½ tsp per 30 lbs 2x/day
- Decoct stem and bark for more serious urinary or digestive tract inflammation – ½ tsp per 30 lbs 2x/day – don’t use for more than 2 days.
- Rose hips make a great snack – 1 teaspoon ground per cup of food is great nutritional supplement.
History, Folklore, and Other Uses
- Roses have been cultivated for more than 3000 years and there are more than 10,000 cultivars.
- Universal symbol of love and beauty (and thus very popular)
- Rose hips can be used to dye things orange
- The distilled essential oil was brought to England by the Arabs. Rose EO is hella expensive, but very potent and is an important (oft-adultered) addition to perfumes.
- Rose Water and Rose seed oil are often used in beauty products
- The first perfumes were petals steeped in fats – not the oils
- Highly used and regarded by the Romans – feasts, weddings, celebrations – used as a sign of pleasure – but also used at funerals for uplifting.
- There are lots of myths. My favorite origin myth: Greek; Chloris. She finds body of a nymph, asked the three graces for joy, brightness, and charm. She asks Aphrodite for beauty, Dionysus for sweet perfume nectar, and Zephyr to blow the clouds so the flower could open to the sun. The rose was born.
- SECRET SOCIETY: Rosicrucians
- Yummy yummy rose hip jam!
- Rose petals are edible – a little bit sweet. To consider: sugared on cookies (aww yum)
- Young leaves are edible before they get hard – eat in spring
- Rosehips were a staple in WWII England and the tea is important in scandinavia
- Mostly safe but the bark and stems are high in tannins and should be avoided with pregnancy or kidney issues – and should be limited to acute issues.
- Be VERY careful where you find these because they’re likely to have pesticides. Recommended to grow your own or get them from someone known/trust.
- Bath herb
- I use petals in almost every tea blend that I make for people
- Added rosehips to a cleansing formula – Great success
- Use in herbal fertilizer for houseplants
Tilford, G., & Tilford, M. (2009). Herbs for pets: The natural way to enhance your pet’s life(2nd ed.). Laguna Hills, Calif.: BowTie Press.
Alfs, M. (2003). 300 Herbs Their Indications and Contraindications. New Brighton, MN: Old Theology Book House.
Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: The ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.
Grieve, M. (Maud). (1931) A Modern Herbal; the Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs, & Trees with All Their Modern Scientific Uses. New York :Harcourt, Brace & company.
Martin, L., (1987). Garden Flower Folklore. Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press.
McIntyre, A. (1996). Flower power: Flower remedies for healing body and soul through herbalism, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and flower essences. New York: Henry Holt and.
Image from Jeanne Blanche on unsplash