A Rose is a Rose: How we use roses in Chinese Medicine

A Rose Is A Rose

Cara O. Frank, L.OM.

Valentine’s day has come and gone. But it got me thinking about the roses we use in Chinese herbal medicine.

There are 3 roses that are generally taught in Chinese herbal programs: Two are flowers and one is a rose hip.

Méi Gui Huā 玫瑰花 Flos Rosae Rugosae rose flower


Perhaps the most beautiful herb that we have in our dispensary. Mei Gui Hua regulates Qi

It’s sweet, slightly bitter, warm and it enters the Liver and Spleen channels. The suggested doses are on the lower end: Dose 1.5-6 gms. I was unable to determine where the herb was first recorded. If anyone has this information, I’d be grateful if you’d share it with me.

The Materia medica includes 2 citations, Harm and Benefit in Materia Medica (Bĕn Căo Hài Lì, 本草害利) by Ling Huan in 1893 and also Běn Cǎo Zhèng Yì Rectification of the Meaning of Materia Medica by 本草正義 Zhang Shan-Lei in 1914, but I am unsure of the when and where it was first recorded.

It gently regulates the qi and blood, harmonizes the Liver, Spleen and Stomach and regulates menses. It moves qi without being too dispersing, it regulates blood without being excessively dispersing. It’s just right.

We use it for symptoms of liver- stomach disharmony: belching, flank pain, poor appetite. For this purpose, it would pair well with Fo Shou-Finger Citron, which can be difficult to source, or yu jin- Radix Curcumae. An herbal comparison might be Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang, which is also used to treat Liver-Stomach Disharmony.

Similarly to Xiao Yao San- Free Wanderer Powder, Mei Gui Hua moves qi and blood to regulate the menses, and alleviate symptoms of breast distention, and cramping.

Years ago, Dr. Huang Huang suggested making a tea with Mei Gui Hua and lemon to replicate the actions of Xiao Yao San. We think adding a little honey enhances that effect. In my practice, I like to add mei gui hua to Xiao Yao San.

Dried buds of a pink tea rose closeup. Horizontal background.While no classic formulas include Mei Gui Hua, it’s a lovely herb to consider as a modifier to help manage a range of common gynecological complaints

Yuè Jì Huā 月季花  Flos Rosae Chinensis, Chinese rose flower

This flower looks almost identical to Mei Gui Hua. I have difficulty telling them apart!

Yue Ji Hua or Moon Season Flower is grouped with herbs that invigorate the blood. It is sweet and warm and enters the Liver channel. Its primary actions are to Invigorate blood, promotes the movement of Qi, reduce swelling, and resolve toxicity. The dose is also on the low-average side: 3-6 gms

The 3rd rose that we commonly use in Chinese Herbology is a rose hip:

Jīn Yīng Zĭ  金樱子 Fructus Rosae Laevigatae   Cherokee rose fruit

Jin Ying Zi is grouped with medicinals that stabilize and bind.

Its properties are sour and astringent and neutral. It enters the Bladder, Kidney and Large Intestine Channels.

The herb has a stabilizing effect on the lower burner. We use it to prevent leakages. Thus, it’s used to contain urine, slow diarrhea and secure essence.

Of the 3 roses we’re discussing, this is the only one that is featured in classical formulas.

To stabilize the kidneys and secure essence we might combine it with Qian Shi- Euryales Semen. This pair is used in Shui Lu Er Xian Dan- Land and Water Two Immortals Elixir, which is actually just a dui yao containing both these medicinals. Qian Shi grows in the water, Jin Ying Zi grows on land, hence the formula name.

Other examples of how we might use it include combining it with Sang Piao Xiao Mantidis Ootheca for leaky urine- incontinence, Nocturia or enuresis. We also might combine it with Shan Yao Dioscoreae Rhizoma to bind the stool in the case of chronic diarrhea

Jin Ying Zi can be combined with kidney tonics such as Tu Si Zi Cuscutae Semen and Bu Gu Zhi Psoraleae Fructus for sperm loss due to kidney yang vacuity.

While writing this, I learned about three other roses that are included in our materia medica. I don’t have personal clinical experience with these.

The first is the root of the Chinese rose:

Yuè Jì Huā Gēn, 月季花根, Radix Rosae Chinensis

Yue Ji hua gen is sweet and warm and enters the liver channel. Sweet, bitter, slightly astringent, warm.

It treats irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, blood clotting, bruises, spermatorrhea, and vaginal discharge.

For the treatment of menstrual pain: we combine it with Yi Mu Cao- Leonuri Herba Ji Guan Hua Celosiae Cristatae Flos and steams eggs.

The dosage is 9-30g.

The second is Qiáng Wēi Gēn, 蔷薇根, Rosae Multiflorae Radix

Qiang wei gen is Bitter, Astringent and cool. It enters the stomach and spleen channels. It clears heat, drains dampness, dispels wind, invigorates the blood and dispels toxins. It treats lung abscesses, dysentery, trauma, furuncles and enuresis.

Finally, there’s Yě Qiáng Wēi Gēn, 野蔷薇根, Rosae Multiflorae Radix. This is the uncultivated rosa Multiflora.

Ye qiang wei gen is Bitter, astringent and cool. It enters the Stomach and Large Intestine Channels. Its actions are to dispel wind and clear heat, kill parasites, promote tissue regeneration, astringe urine and disperse blood stagnation. It’s used in formulas for abdominal pain, diarrhea and bloody stool. It heals ulcers and treats infantile malnutrition due to parasites. It also treats scabies.

Ready to use roses to treat your patients? We stock them in raw and granule form. Hop online to our HerbScript Pro and build your custom formula today!

Cara Frank, L.OM. was raised in a health food store in Brooklyn NY. When she was 8 she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For over 35 years she has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17 she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20 she enrolled in acupuncture school. In 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with Chinese herbs. Since then, she has devoted her life to studying and teaching the topic.

Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Healing Arts and Six Fishes Neighborhood Acupuncture, both in Philadelphia where she maintains a busy acupuncture practice and acts as the head fish of two warm and lively offices. She is the president of China Herb Company, a Chinese Herb Dispensary that provides classical and custom formulas to acupuncturists across the US. She teaches Chinese Herbology at the Won Institute of Graduate Studies. You can read her full bio or schedule an appointment.