When most of us think about roses, we think about romance. Love stories, intimate moments, weddings and other joyful unions are key images. As mentioned in a previous blog post entry, olfactory memory is one of our most powerful senses. It is the first to develop in utero and serves as a vast database for our likes, dislikes, and magical moments. 

While the connection to memories and feelings is governed by our limbic system and is certainly stimulated by the fresh scent of rose, did you know that the smell of this classic flower has other purported health benefits? Let’s start with pain. Yes, pain. We certainly don’t tend to think of the “ouchies” when we envision a bouquet of roses and research suggests that they two are kept separate in our minds for good reason! A 2013 study found that women experiencing menstrual cramping and discomfort reported a reduction in pain when they received tummy massages using rose oil versus an unscented carrier oil massage. A 2016 trial similarly found that rose essential oil was an effective complement to traditional medical management of menstrual cramping and pain. Another study of postoperative pediatric patients found that those who inhaled rose oil reported significant decreases in their pain levels. Researchers hypothesized that the scent may have stimulated the release of endorphins, the “feel good” natural hormones that are also released after a workout.

Then there are the mood management benefits of rose oil. A number of studies, including one with postpartum patients, have shown that the scent of rose oil is beneficial in terms of reducing depressive symptoms. This effect is thought to be the result of increased dopamine secretion. A variety of patient reports and further research studies also indicated that rose oil and its potent, heady fragrance, can be a helpful stress reliever and reduce symptoms of anxiety. 

Let’s circle back to what most of us think of when we see rose petals… love and intimacy. You’ll be thrilled to know that it is not just societal programming and media depictions that keep this association alive. Researchers have found that inhaling rose scent stimulates libido and increases sexual satisfaction! These results have been found in both male and female participants with clinical depression. Rose oil is particularly helpful for patients struggling with reduced sex drive secondary to antidepressant medication.

All told, this timeless and familiar fragrance has been a staple of our lives for ages. It is easy to see why! If you want to indulge in the experience of a French rose garden, complemented by sandalwood and sweet bourbon, check out Romance in our Nature Collection.

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