Does Rose Water Relieve Headaches?

Polygonal art of Rosa damascena, or the Damask rose

Rose water, derived from the delicate petals of the Rosa damascena, is a fragrant product that has been heralded for its potential therapeutic properties for centuries. From the bustling markets of Iran to the sacred ceremonies of mosques, rose water has undeniably etched its mark in history. But, when it comes to its efficacy in relieving headaches, what does the science and history say?

Historical Perspective on Rose Water

Rosa damascena, commonly known as Damask rose, has deep roots in cultural and medicinal traditions. The bond between Iranians and this flower extends beyond its therapeutic effects; its enchanting aroma evokes memories of the Prophet Mohammad, which is why it’s often termed “Flower of Prophet Mohammed” or “Gole Mohammadi”.

Traditionally, various parts of the Damask rose were employed to treat an array of ailments ranging from abdominal and chest pains to menstrual bleeding and digestive problems. A notable mention is the use of rose oil in vapor therapy for alleviating certain allergies, migraines, and headaches.

Chemical Constituents and Their Possible Benefits

Rosa damascena is rich in phenolic compounds. These compounds are renowned for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant properties. Given the anti-inflammatory aspect, it’s plausible to infer that rose products, including rose water, could potentially provide relief from headaches, which are often linked to inflammation.

Products Derived from Rosa Damascena

  • Rose Water: A key product containing 10-50% rose oil, rose water finds its prime use in religious ceremonies. In the food industry, its aromatic presence is cherished. The rose water produced in Kashan, Iran, holds particular reverence and is even used to ceremonially cleanse the Kaaba.
  • Rose Oil: Distilled from fresh R. damascena flowers, rose oil is an aromatic essence. Due to its low yield from the flower and its unmatched fragrance, it is among the priciest oils on the market. This oil has been associated with healing properties, especially in treating depression, grief, and tension.
  • Dried Flowers: These come in two variants – dried buds primarily for export and dried petals consumed for their potential digestive benefits.
  • Hips: Both dried and fresh hips of R. damascena have uses in Iranian culture.
  • Other Products: Apart from the mainstays, other products like hydrosol, absolute, and various extractions serve both commercial and research purposes.

Does It Relieve Headaches?

Given the historical backdrop and the chemical profile of the Damask rose, it’s tempting to draw a direct connection between rose water and headache relief. While its chemical constituents, particularly its anti-inflammatory properties, suggest potential benefits, there’s yet to be conclusive scientific evidence that directly links rose water consumption or topical application to headache relief.

However, the holistic experience of using rose products, with their soothing aroma and the potential stress-relieving properties, might provide some individuals with a sense of relaxation and relief from tension headaches.


While the enchanting fragrance and historical anecdotes around Rosa damascena suggest potential therapeutic benefits, more rigorous research is required to definitively say whether rose water can relieve headaches. Until then, if you find solace in its scent and the calm it brings, it might be worth incorporating it into your relaxation routine. As always, for chronic or severe headaches, it’s essential to seek medical advice.

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