The obsession with roses is an old, old tradition. Some of the best things need no improvement.
Meet Queen Rose.
The Romans were obsessed with roses. They celebrated the rose in art, gardens, banquets, rituals, architecture, and daily life. This huge obsession came with a high demand. Most Roman roses were grown in Egypt, along the Nile, and in the Middle East.
The Roman Emperor Heliogabalus (c. 203-222 CE) threw a feast to commemorate the start of his reign. He wanted it to be memorable, so at the feast he locked his guests in the banquet room and showered them three times with rose petals. The quantities of petals used was so overpowering that several people actually suffocated under their weight!
Just like the Greeks, the Romans used rose oil for numerous medicinal uses. The Roman Pliny, in 77 CE, recorded thirty-two different medicinal uses for roses. All parts of the flower were used for headaches, earaches, and issues with the mouth, gums, tonsils, stomach, rectum, and uterus. Rose oil was an early cure for hangovers, as Pliny wrote that the crowns of roses would alleviate the "pain in the head" from wine with "very refreshing effect" (quoted in Potter, The Rose: A True History). Something to keep in mind the next time you have a party coming up!
The Romans weren't the only ones who used roses for medicinal purposes. Islamic medicine had also noted rose water and rose oil's benefits for the eyes, for relieving headaches, and for relieving diseases of the mouth and stomach. And the English botanist John Gerard wrote in his book; Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes, that rose water and rose oil could help with eye issues, stomach issues, and internal inflammation, specifically constipation and fevers.
The use of wild roses was confirmed by the medical treatises of the founders of Ayurveda (an Indian system of medicine). Different rose species held unique medicinal properties, and each was allocated an original Sanskrit name that suggested its curative properties.
Rose water has a long history of being distilled for medicinal purposes and beauty rituals. There is some evidence that the people of the ancient Indus valley were distilling floral waters in the fourth century BCE. Mesopotamian tablets reveal that the art of extracting perfume date from 3500 BCE. Boiling the petals in water was used to release the scent of the roses.