Made popular during WWII due to their high vitamin C content, rose hips are packed with healthy phytochemicals, nutrients, can be used for several health conditions and are delicious in certain recipes. When a rose flower is bloomed and the flower petals fall off, the rose “fruit” or hip is left behind. This is called a rose hip.
The Health Benefits of Rose Hips
Rose hips are best known for their high content of vitamin C. In fact, they contain around 30-50% more vitamin C than most organges. They are also rich in vitamins E and K.
Rose hips also contain health-boosting substances such as pectin, tannins, flavonoids, and carotenoids.
Pectin is a soluble plant fiber that has been shown to provide several health benefits. In its raw form, it is sometimes used to lower (LDL) cholesterol. Pectin can also potentially lower your risk for colon cancer and help manage diabetes . So eating foods with pectin will certainly never hurt!
You may commonly hear tannins in the same breath as tea, coffee or wine. But what are they? Simply put, they are substances located in many plants. Probably the most valuable tid bit to know about tannins is that they protect cells from oxidative damage and can prevent cells from mutating into cancer cells. anti-mutagenic. Furthermore, tannins have components that naturally fight off microbial infections and reduce blood pressure. .
Flavonoids are a large class of compounds that are produced and reside within plants. Since there are so many different subclasses of flavonoids, it would be too much to explain here. But in general, flavonoids have been shown to promote general health and prevent disease .
Lastly, carotenoids are pigments, or colors, that give plants their color. Any plants
that have yellow, orange, or red, have carotenoids in them. Carotenoids have been found to prevent cardiovascular disease, decrease the risk of eye-related complications such as macular degenration or cataracts. Rose hips specifically have lycopene (a type of carotenoid).
Medicinal Uses of Rose Hip
Rose hips have quite a few medicinal uses. In order to take rose hips in a “supplement” form, they are ususally dried and then made into a “powder” where they can be used to make an herbal tea or taken in a capsule.
1. Ibuprofen (NSAID) Substitute
It is important to find alternatives to NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as Ibuprofen because the prolonged use of standard NSAIDs often has undesirable side effects.
With that said, rose-hip powder is a fantastic alternative–even the evidence says so. I am trying my best not to get too nerdy on you here, so I will be brief (despite my urge to explain it all). Scientists have identified the primary compound in rose hips that fights inflammation: petroleum ether fraction (PEF). PEF was found to down-regulate COX-2 which is an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain .
Ok no more jargon in this section, I promise.
So what does that all mean? In essence, it is proof that rose hips have a component that produce anti-inflammatory effects. As you will see in #2 below, rose hip powder is useful for conditions where standard NSAIDs are used.
What makes rose-hip powder an even better NSAID alternative is that it has virtually no recorded side effects.
If you want to try out rose-hip powder for yourself, pick it up on Amazon loose to make tea (instructions provided below) or in capsules for convenience. Buying through these links helps articles like this become possible (and pay my massive college loans :P)
The capsules would be great to have on hand to use instead of Ibuprofen or Aleve.
2. Osteoarthritis & Joint Pain
There is a growing body of evidence that shows rose-hip powder is effective for the treatment of joint pain , osteoarthritis [2, 3], and potentially rheumatoid arthritis .
It is thought that rose-hip powder is effective for these conditions / complications because rose-hip powder reduces joint inflammation.
3. Make the Common Cold More Manageable
Although the evidence isn’t strong, it is reasonable to conclude that rose-hips can be useful to fight off colds during the winter months due to their high vitamin C content.
The common belief that vitamin C prevents or treats colds, however, has never been proven .
The good news is that vitamin C can reduce the severity and duration of a cold. The catch is that the vitamin C needs to be in the diet or taken consistently before a cold is contracted. Vitamin C does not do much for your cold if you take it after you realize you have a cold.
So you may want to consider adding a consistent source of vitamin C to your diet or as a supplement to reduce cold duration and severity if you happen to catch one. It is also wise to get enough vitamin C anyways because it maintains your bone, muscle, and blood vessel health and helps your body absorb iron.
4. Diuretic–Kidney Cleansing and Helps UTIs
Much like coffee, rose-hips are a diruetic, meaning they make you pee more by increasing your body’s release of water and salts.
Well why would I want to pee more you may ask?
Believe it or not, there are benefits to diuretics. For example, when your body retains water, much of that water resides in the blood stream. This causes your blood pressure to rise. Diuretics can be helpful for people who have a high blood pressure (hypertension) because it promotes the excretion of fluids and salts.
Durietics can also be used to give your kidneys a nice cleanse by “flushing them out.” Be aware that whenever your urine output is increased, you are losing essential electrolytes that need to be replenished. Please do your body a favor and do not drink “sports” drinks that are filled with harmful ingredients. Instead, elect to naturally restore your electrolytes with coconut water or these home-made electrolyte drinks.
5. Blood Pressure Regulation and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
As explained above, rose hips can effectively reduce one’s blood pressure due to its diuretic effects. In addition to the ability to manage blood pressure, rose hips can reduce LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). Between these two actions, it is thought that rose hips can prevent cardiovascular disease .
6. Complexion Enhancement (Skin Health)
Although there are no official studies (that I know of) that support the beneficial effects of rose hips for the skin, many people swear by it. There are people who religiously drink rose hip tea because they claim it makes their skin “glow.”
Even former Victoria’s Secret Anger Miranda Kerr claimed that her vibrant and flawless skin was due to rose hip seed oil. It is said that rose hip seed oil has the potential to correct dark spots, hydrate dry & itchy skin, reduce scars, and fine lines.
Rose hips are thought to have regenerative properties, so there may be some truth to this claim afterall.
Want to try rose-hip seed oil out for yourself? Get it here.
Now that we have explored all of the benefits of rose-hips, I am going to show you how to prepapre, use, and cook with rose hips.
How to Use and Prepare Rose Hips
If they you don’t have access to rose hips or don’t have the time to make them yourself, you can get rose hip powder here. If you are motivated and have local rose hips, feel free to continue reading.
Harvest & Prepare Your Own: It is relatively easy if you prefer to harvest your own rose hips. Some sources say it is best to harvest rose hips immediately after the first frost. This is when they contain the most nutrients. When harvesting, make sure that the rose hips are firm (with a little give / softness) and bright red or orange. Don’t pick any hips that are shriveled orare not the right color.
From there, simply remove the hips from the stems. The next step is important: prepare the rose hips immediately after harvesting to avoid compromising the nutritional value.
To prepare them, you must first remove the seeds that can cause irritation if eaten. First trim the ends of the hips and then cut each in half. You then should be able to remove the seeds and rinse them thoroughly.
From here you can choose to dry them or use them fresh.
To dry, simply place them on a sheet / pan in a dark and dry location until they shrivel up like raisens. You can then freeze them or put them in a spice grinder to make a powder.
Be wary, however, some say that the drying process reduces the amount of vitamin C in rose hips because vitamin C is a water soluable vitamin.
Cooking With Rose Hips: Wether you have prepare the rose hips yourself or bought them, there are several culinary applications of rose hips. Given their health benefits, they would be a great addition to your winter recipe list. Check out this list of rose-hip recipes for ideas. Remember to never cook with aluminum when cooking with rose hips, it can deplete the vitamin C and cause discolorations.
Making Rose Hip Tea: Many people elect to drink rose hip tea to get the health benefits. To make a tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of rose hip powder–let it steep for a minute or two. You may want to use a loose-leaf tea infuser to avoid unpleasant particulates.
If the flavor doesn’t satisfy you, feel free to add some honey.
Make Rose Hip Oil: If your motivated, or the type that loves DIY projects, you can actually make your own rose hip oil instead of buying it. Check out this video to learn how to make it:
- Bystrom, Laura., Garner-Wizard, Mariann., Henson, Shari., Keller, Amy., McCutchan, Cheryl., Oliff, Heather. (2005, November 15). “Efficacy of Standardized Rose-hip Powder Hyben Vital on Joint Mobility, Pain, and Daily Living Activities in Osteoarthritic Patients.” American Botanical Council. Retrieved from: http://cms.herbalgram.org.ezproxy.mcphs.edu/herbstream/library/Herbclip/index.html#param.wapp?sw_page=@@review%3Fufgp%3D292%252Freview44363.html
- Bystrom, Laura., Garner-Wizard, Mariann., Henson, Shari., Keller, Amy., McCutchan, Cheryl., Oliff, Heather. (2010, August 31). “Meta-analysis Suggests Reduction of Osteoarthritis Pain with Rose Hips Powder” American Botanical Council. Retrieved from: http://cms.herbalgram.org.ezproxy.mcphs.edu/herbstream/library/Herbclip/index.html#param.wapp?sw_page=@@review%3Fufgp%3D407%252F041033-407.html
- Bystrom, Laura., Garner-Wizard, Mariann., Henson, Shari., Keller, Amy., McCutchan, Cheryl., Oliff, Heather. (2005, October 31). “Patented Powder from Danish Rose Hip Subspecies Reduces Pain in Osteoarthritis of Knees and Hips” American Botanical Council. Retrieved from: http://cms.herbalgram.org.ezproxy.mcphs.edu/herbstream/library/Herbclip/index.html#param.wapp?sw_page=@@review%3Fufgp%3D291%252Freview44463.html
- Cao X, Chan CO, Chen S, Guo D, Guo Y, Mok DK, Xu L, Ye Y, Yu Z. ” (2011, December 8). Anti-inflammatory activities and mechanisms of action of the petroleum ether fraction of Rosa multiflora Thunb. hips.” US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22019508
- Chung KT, Huang YW, Lin Y, Wei CI, Wong TY. (1998, August) “Tannins and Human Health: A Review.” US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9759559
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012) 66, 585–590; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.203; published online 14 December 2011
- Erlendson J, Kharazmi A, Mune O, Roll S, Rossnagel K, Sorensen H, Wagner A, Willich SN, Winther K. (2010, February 17). “Rose hip herbal remedy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis – a randomised controlled trial.” Pub Med. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19818588
- Flavonoids. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/flavonoids
- PECTIN. (2009). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-500-pectin.aspx?activeingredientid=500&activeingredientname=pectin
- Vitamin C for Colds: Benefits, Side Effects, Uses. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/vitamin-c-for-common-cold