Rose Tea Relieves Menstrual Pain

Healthnotes Newswire (December 1, 2005)—Drinking rose tea can reduce the symptoms associated with painful menstrual periods in adolescent girls, according to a study published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health (2005;50:e51–7).

Dysmenorrhea, or painful periods (menses), occurs in as many as half of all adolescent girls and is usually not linked to any underlying health problem. Cramping and back pain are characteristic of dysmenorrhea, and these can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, fatigue, and mood changes. Dysmenorrhea rarely persists for more than the first two to three days of a menstrual period. Pain-relieving medicines and birth control pills are used to treat symptoms. Nonetheless, nearly one-quarter of women with dysmenorrhea do not find these treatments effective.

Nutritional supplements, including calcium, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B3 (niacin), and essential fatty acids like those found in fish oil, evening primrose oil, and borage oil, are sometimes recommended to relieve dysmenorrhea. In addition, acupuncture, acupressure, spinal manipulation, exercise, relaxation, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS, a microcurrent applied through small electrodes placed on the skin) have all been shown to reduce the symptoms of dysmenorrhea.

A number of herbal medicines are popular for treating dysmenorrhea. These include chamomile, cramp bark, passionflower, black cohosh, dong quai, and others. A tea made from the flower buds and leaves of the rose (Rosa gallica) have been used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine to treat conditions influenced by female hormones, including menopause and dysmenorrhea. No clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of rose tea have been done previously.

In the current study, 109 adolescent girls between 15 and 18 years old with dysmenorrhea were randomly assigned to either a drink rose tea or not (control group). None of the girls had underlying health problems that would account for their dysmenorrhea.

The girls in the tea group were instructed to drink 2 cups of rose tea every day from one week before the onset of their menses until the fifth day of their menses, a total of about 12 days per month, for six cycles. A cup of tea was prepared by steeping 6 dried rosebuds in 10 ounces of hot water for 10 minutes. Pain, distress, anxiety, perceived stress, and well-being were assessed using questionnaires given to all of the girls at the beginning of the study, and after one month, three months, and six months of treatment.

Those drinking rose tea had significantly lower levels of menstrual pain, distress, anxiety, and perceived stress and higher sense of well-being than the control group after one month of treatment; well-being, pain, distress, and anxiety, continued to improve during the course of the study and were at their best after six months.

These findings suggest that rose tea can be effective for relief of dysmenorrhea in adolescent girls. In this study, it specifically reduced pain and emotional symptoms and increased well-being. The benefits of drinking rose tea appear to be both immediate and cumulative, though how it works is still unknown. Further research is needed to confirm the results of this study and to determine the properties of rose that might account for its beneficial effects.

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

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