What is so special about Rose otto essential oil?

Following on from our popular Instagram post last week of a rose we captured and information on how to use Rose otto essential oil for hayfever, we have been asked for more information on rose oil, so we are very happy to oblige.

The Rose is the UK's favourite flower according to the BBC's cover of the Chelsea Flower Show and as stated in both the Daily Mail and the Telegraph newspapers in the past few years. In the English language, we have made many positive associations with the rose: coming up roses, seeing things through rose tinted glasses, everything is rosy and of course we give red roses to symbolise love, especially on Valentine's Day. Did you know that Roses have also been attributed with aphrodisiac properties? There appears to be quite a few religious connections with Rose oil too. The Roman God Venus and Greek God Aphrodite (thought to relate to the same deity) are linked to roses, as is the Virgin Mary (Davis P. (1991). Additionally, there is a legend told in the Koran that when Mohammed rose into Heaven, his sweat fell to earth and he said, “whosoever would smell my scent would smell the rose (Bensouilah J (1996). Rose is apparently the favourite perfume of Angels according to Davis (1991).

“Roses have been known throughout the northern hemisphere as far back as literature records” (Rochdale Press (1979). Considered a herb, 296 species have been classified. Of these, Rosa damascena is a principal ancestor of the many hybrids and Culpeper’s Herbal (1983) states that it is of obscure origin. Price (1993) informs the reader that Rosa damascena was probably a hybrid of Rosa gallica (the apothecary rose (Lawless J. (1994)) and Rosa callina and that it is native to Syria. Conversely, Reid (1995) states the rose “had its birthplace in Persia, known today as Iran”.

The name rose comes from the Greek word “rhoden” which means “red” (Reid S. (1995). The best oil is generally agreed to come from Bulgaria and called “Bulgarian Rose Otto”, specifically a special mountain district around the town of Kazanlik. Tisserand (1988), states that this particular damask rose can only be cultivated at high altitudes (1300 feet above sea level) in an area of only 240 square miles. Rose otto or attar actually comes from the Persian word “’atir”, meaning perfumed (Price S. (1993), so it may well be that Reid has it right it terms of its origin. You know when you have a true Rose otto essential oil because first of all it is very expensive and secondly, it should become solid when cold. You always need to buy essential oils from a reputable supplier and we always recommend that you purchase from a company that is registered with the Aromatherapy Trade Council (ATC), whose website is www.a-t-c.org.uk. I personally like the Rose otto from Absolute Aromas.

The essential oil is very complex chemically with between 2-300 constituents, which are mainly alcohols (60%) as confirmed by Price (1995) plus around a further 20% of monoterpenes and a sm