Beauty Medicine: Roses

My favourite medicine’s is Beauty Medicine. That is what

I call my high bred roses, beauty medicine.  I do not make

teas with their hips. Nor do I dig up their roots and

macerate them with water and grain alcohol. I do not even

use their petals for potpourris, preferring to let the wind

scatter the velvet petals across my husband’s manicured lawns.

Nature’s disorder never ceases to play with my eye and sends

my heart skipping with joy at its sudden beauty. Almost like a

Jackson Pollack painting.   

This morning, after a night of rain, Bubbaloo, my lab, and I wandered

in a small poplar stand. The fresh leaves sighed in the spring breeze.

The red rosehips from last fall leapt out of the flickering green.

The softness of the morning filled me with beauty medicine.

It is said that when one loves, one only sees beauty. I am reminded of the

first time I fell in love. He was beautiful. We spent long silent hours

listening to each other breath over the phone. We held hands

and sighed. Then my girlfriend pointed out his eyebrows. They grew

together into one long brow. I had not noticed. Being in love, I only saw

his beauty. Some say love is blind, but I say love is kind. Beauty medicine, brings one to love. It is my experience that healing only happens within love. Roses being the flower of love have strong medicine.

I like to think of the wild rose of Alberta as sustaining love! The wild rose is not the garden rose which fusses over fertilizer, is fickle about freezing temperatures and flamboyantly flaunts its beauty.

The wild rose blooms in ditches and barren lands. It sweetens the air beside land fills and rusted cars forgotten in fields gone to weed. The wild rose has a fearless love. Not one tempted by co-dependant relationships with gardeners. The wild rose prefers deer to pruning sheers. It withstands all extremes of temperature and moisture over being grafted, it beauty being manipulated like an actress under the plastic surgeons knife.

The staying power of the wild makes more than beauty medicine. First Nations say, “The harsher the environment, the stronger the medicine.” All parts of the wild rose are medicine.

There are two species of wild roses in Alberta. The dog rose (Rosa canina) and the field rose (Rosa arvensis). How the dog rose got its name is lost in history. However one poplar antidote tells of a dream an ancient Greek herbalist had. In the dream he was told the wild rose cured mad dog bites. Enjoying the metaphors dreams present, I can’t help but wonder if the herbalist was in the dog house and the dream was trying to tell him that the beauty of a rose calms a raging woman’s heart.

From a more practical point of view, the pretty pink petals of the rose are handy bandages when out on hike and a snag catches one skin.  They also make a tasty snack and make a colourful addition to salad.

The leaves, steeped as a tea, ease diarrhoea, a gentle remedy for both children and seniors. In a pinch they can also be chewed up into a spit poultice and laid over a gash to encourage formation of a scab. The roots and branches have a similar but stronger action than the leaves.

The strong medicine is in the hip. It is said that a ½ cup rose hip pulp has as much Vitamin C as 40 oranges. This is good news.

Unlike other mammals, small rodents and the human’s cannot make Vitamin C in their bodies. Vitamin C is considered an essential vitamin. Without Vitamin C and its companion bioflavonoids, the human body literally falls apart. Vitamin C participates in the maintenance of collagen. Collagen is the gelatinous substance which holds the trillions of cells of the human body together. Viruses and cancer eat through collagen in order to spread throughout the body. Collagens intergrity is essential for wellness. This is one of the roles of Vitamin C. Considering the ditches full of wild roses, we should be able to keep ourselves together.

Just as love binds us to each other, the rose hips will bind out cells together. And that is the medicine of the wild rose. 

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