Plants from the Rosacea family are rich in natural molecules with beneficial biological properties, and they are widely appreciated and used in the food industry, perfumery, and cosmetics. In this review, we are considering Rosa damascena Mill., Rosa alba L., Rosa centifolia L., and Rosa gallica L. as raw materials important for producing commercial products, analyzing and comparing the main biological activities of their essential oils, hydrolates, and extracts. A literature search was performed to find materials describing (i) botanical characteristics; (ii) the phytochemical profile; and (iii) biological properties of the essential oil sand extracts of these so called "old roses" that are cultivated in Bulgaria, Turkey, India, and the Middle East. The information used is from databases PubMed, Science Direct, and Google Scholar. Roses have beneficial healing properties due to their richness of beneficial components, the secondary metabolites as flavonoids (e.g., flavones, flavonols, anthocyanins), fragrant components (essential oils, e.g., monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes), and hydrolysable and condensed tannins. Rose essential oils and extracts with their therapeutic properties-as respiratory antiseptics, anti-inflammatories, mucolytics, expectorants, decongestants, and antioxidants-are able to act as symptomatic prophylactics and drugs, and in this way alleviate dramatic sufferings during severe diseases.
Keywords: Rosa alba L.; Rosa centifolia L.; Rosa damascena Mill.; Rosa gallica L.; antimutagenic potential; antineoplastic effect; antioxidant properties; antiviral activity; essential oils; water and alcohol extracts.