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Roses are Red by Jessica La Grassa

February is a conflicted month for me. Always has been. On the one hand, as it contains my birthday and Valentine’s Day I’m celebrating more than usual. But on the other hand, winter is never quite over and polar vortexes threaten at any moment. In addition, my vitamin D levels are particularly low this time of year and I desperately want to escape to warmer and sunnier places (please take me with you on your holiday down south!). However, one silver lining is that roses are everywhere (thank you to whoever equated roses with love) and they can help us get through this in-between month.

There are two types of roses, out of the many, that are usually used by the perfume and aromatherapy industries. The first being Rosa centifolia, also known as the cabbage rose as its petals look like a cabbage. It’s believed to have originated in Persia and is now cultivated in Morocco and France. Most know this version as rose de mail or Rose Maroc. The other, with the Latin name Rosa damascene and known as the damask rose, is probably native to China but is now primarily cultivated in Bulgaria. Otto of rose or Turkish rose are its common names. Both types of roses have similar therapeutic properties and are part of the Roseceae botantical family, but rose damascene is more widely used today.

The steam distillation process to create pure rose essential oil is one of the most expensive and labour-intensive. It takes between 50-100 blooms to create one drop. That’s right. ONE. DROP. Hence its price tag. Using rose absolute or pure rose essential oil diluted in jojoba oil (usually at 10% or less) is an affordable and effective alternative. To create the absolute, solvents are used to dissolve the aromatic compounds of the delicate petals, it’s then further refined to remove any remaining chemicals.

The pure essential oil is clear and pale yellow in colour while the absolute is a dark yellow or orange. Both have a deep rich and sweet smell of floral and are low in toxicity making it one of the safest essential oils to use. They blend well with bergamot, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, jasmine, lavender and patchouli.

Roses and their essential oils have been used medicinally since antiquity. In the 10th century the great Persian alchemist Avicenna discovered the method for distilling rose oil and it’s been used ever since. No wonder, as the effects are profound on the body and mind. It tones and rejuvenates all skin types, eases premenstrual and menopausal symptoms, is considered an aphrodisiac, is an antidepressant and helps release feelings of grief and separation.

After Valentine’s Day, when they won’t be as expensive, pick up a dozen or so roses and make yourself some rosewater. Rosewater makes a heavenly face toner that’s perfect for combating winter’s dry skin. Any rose type is fine; just make sure the bouquet is fresh and organic. Once you have them home, gently clean the roses and remove the petals, discarding the stem and leaves. Place the petals in a pot (enamel is best if you have it) and pour distilled water over them until they’re just covered. Turn on the heat and let the mixture simmer, not boil, for approx. an hour. Then strain and squeeze out any moisture from the petals into a spray bottle. You can use the rosewater alone or add 4 drops of frankincense and 4 drops of geranium for every 30 ml of rosewater. If you’ve added essential oils make sure to shake the bottle before applying it to your face. For best results, use it on a clean face and apply a face oil or moisturizer afterwards.

If you’re feeling a bit blue, try 2 drops of rose essential oil and 3 drops of orange essential oil in a bath with 1 cup of Epsom salt. If you’ve made the rosewater already you can use 2 tablespoons of that instead of the 2 drops of essential oil.

For premenstrual and menopausal symptoms add 4 drops of rose essential oil, 3 drops of neroli essential oil and 3 drops of mandarin essential oil to 20ml of carrier oil (any will do) in a bottle. Gently shake to blend the mixture then massage a small (pea size) amount onto your body, focusing on areas (such as the stomach or lower back) that hurt.

How do you use rose essential oil in your life? Share your experiences with us using #RitualFlowerPower

Jessica La Grassa is a transplant Hamiltonian and a certified Aromatologist who enjoys sharing her knowledge and green living recipes with others.

Have any questions about this article or an essential oil you’d like me to discuss? Email: or on social media @jessicalagrassa

Massage for IBS by Rowan Nancarrow, RMT

hamilton ibs massage

Trust Your Gut

It's an old proverb and most of us have heard it since we were children. But what do you do when your gut rebels in ways you don't understand? 

Many of us suffer from digestive issues in some shape or form. Whether it's food intolerance, stress-related sensitivities or inflammation, sometimes our guts work in ways that don't make sense to us. More and more people are being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, a "diagnosis of exclusion" that just means a collection of symptoms that affect the large intestine. Defined by symptoms like cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation, it is usually brought on by food sensitivities, stress and lifestyle factors such as lack of movement or postural issues.

So what do we do about this? It's hard enough just to find time to feed ourselves, let alone figure out what foods make us feel better and which exacerbate pain and digestion issues. 

What a great time to think about abdominal massage! Massage therapy is an amazing modality to treat many of the issues that can manifest in the abdomen, such as stress, constipation, metabolic function and emotional well-being, and isn't always considered as a first line therapy for digestive discomfort. Let me change your mind... 

Constipation & Bloating

Folks dealing with IBS symptoms are all too familiar with the feeling of uncomfortable, full bellies. Massage can help to directly move gas and waste through the digestive tract to relieve the discomfort associated with contripation and bloating. 

Improve Metabolism & Overall Digestive Function

By regularly treating this area, massage helps to bring blood flow and oxygen to the gastrointestinal tract, which over time leads to a healthier, more active metabolic function. This is especially helpful for individuals with slower metabolisms. 

Decrease Stress Levels

Massage therapy in the abdomen will actively release tension in the muscle, viscera and fascia of the area. This decrease in muscular tension can helps reduce cortisol levels, the "stress hormone" that, while necessary, can have adverse effects if it builds up in excess in the blood system.  

Increase Emotional Well-Being

The abdomen houses the enteric nervous system, an autonomous functioning system which connects to the central nervous system through the vagus nerve. This system releases up to 30 neurotransmitters and plays a key function in satiety and emotional fulfillment. Massage therapy can help increase the functioning of this nervous system by stimulating the diaphragm, decreasing our heart rates, stimulating the release of digestive enzymes and therefore stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to help up relax. 

Never had massage in your abdomen? You'll be shocked to find out that your low back pain may actually be referred pain from constipation, or that the tightness in your shoulders is your body's way of holding tension from gas and bloating. 

Whether you suffer directly from IBS or you're just not sure what's going on with your gut, try working with a registered massage therapist to traverse the unknown - our gut health- and to re-establish that age old trust in your gut. 

Get in touch to chat more about how massage could help your digestive troubles or book an appointment with Rowan Nancarrow, RMT by going here.