Most of us have largely forgotten the wild edibles and medicines that can be found around us like the health benefits of rosehips and instead we rely on supermarkets and pharmacies to meet these needs.
Rosehips however are something we’ve never really turned our backs on, we have an almost unbroken history of using them for a variety of ailments, and some credit them with helping to win the Second World War!
Rosehip has been used traditionally to treat a range of conditions including:
- bladder infections
In food, rosehips are used in teas, jams, jellies and soups, and as a natural source of vitamin C. The vitamin C content of fresh rose hips is higher than that found in citrus fruits. Rosehip is also high in folate and contains vitamins A, B3, D and E along with flavonoids, carotenoids, betasitosterol, fructose, malic acid, tannins, magnesium, zinc, copper and numerous other phytochemicals.
In times such as WW2 when imported fruits such as oranges were becoming scarce people turned to rosehips to fill that nutrient gap. People were encouraged to collect for their own use and to help troops fight over conditions such as scurvy. In 1941, the government launched a national week for the collection of rosehips. School children, girl guides, boy scouts, and women’s institute’s picked up their bags, baskets, and buckets and set out to forage. These were collected and each forager paid a thrupence per pound for their efforts. By 1943 500 tonnes were collected annually- enough to create 2.5 million bottles of syrup and save the import of 25 million oranges per year.
Now modern scientists are waking up to this incredible ingredient.
The hips of any rose can be used, they’re very beginner-friendly and most people tend to be quite familiar with these plants. For more help learning to identify rose bushes take a look at our ID guides:
Click here to see our rose hip identification guide
Health Benefits of Rosehips for your heart
Consuming rose hips may boost heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. In a 6-week study in 31 people, drinking a rosehip beverage containing 40 grams of rosehip powder daily led to significant reductions in blood pressure, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol, compared with the control group.
Benefits for arthritis
Rose hips have been well studied for their effects on osteoarthritis pain. A recent review of 24 studies found that supplementing with rose hips may help relieve osteoarthritis symptoms by combating oxidative stress and inflammation in your joints. Additionally, a review of three studies noted that people taking rosehip powder were twice as likely to report improvements in osteoarthritis pain. Finally, a recent review observed that rose hips reduced pain and stiffness in those with osteoarthritis.
Benefits to skin
Rosehip oil is now a popular anti-aging substance in the beauty industry, it’s made by cold pressing rose hips and extracting their natural oils. The seeds are high in polyunsaturated fats, which supports healthy skin and protects it from damaging compounds, such as ultraviolet (UV) rays, cigarette smoke, and pollution.
In one small, 8-week study, taking 3 mg of rosehip powder daily led to a significant decrease in skin wrinkles and significant increase in skin moisture content and elasticity.
Researchers attributed these results to rose hips’ robust antioxidant, vitamin C, and fatty acid profile, which all protect and replenish your skin barrier.
In addition, using vitamin C directly on your skin has been shown to significantly increase collagen synthesis and cell turnover — the rate at which skin cells replenish.
Rosehip oil may also aid wound healing. In a recent study, rats treated with this oil had significantly faster wound healing and less scar development than the control group.
Benefits to your immune system
Rose hips are one of nature’s richest sources of vitamin C. Rosehips have been used for centuries to combat infections such as coughs, colds, flu and respiratory conditions. It is now known that vitamin C is crucial to fight off infections, both bacterial and viral. White blood cells contain 20 times the amount of vitamin C than other cells and require constant replenishment to keep the immune system working to its optimum capacity. Rosehips also contain many important antioxidants – plant chemicals that are naturally anti-inflammatory, shield immune cells from environmental damage and encourage the production of white blood cells.
Rosehips have been studied as a potential fat loss aid. In a 12-week study in 32 people, taking a 100-mg rosehip tablet each day significantly decreased abdominal fat, compared with the control group. The authors attributed this effect to tiliroside, a potent antioxidant that may increase fat metabolism.
Rosehips are rich in pectin, a naturally occurring sugar that acts as a prebiotic – an indigestible fibre that is used in the gut to increase populations of healthy bacteria, aid digestion and enhance the absorption of valuable vitamins.
Pectin also has a laxative effect on the intestines and is helpful in cases of mild constipation. It appears that intestinal functions are modulated by Rosehips and as such, they can aid in cases of diarrhea, stomach pain and gastric inflammation.
How to use Rosehips
They are a very versatile ingredient and they can be used in a variety of different ways. Fresh they are lovely added to salads and puddings whereas dried ones are best for teas and infusions.
Further studies are obviously needed but the initial results are extremely promising.
Rose hips are widely considered safe. However, it’s not currently known whether they’re safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Although research is lacking on the side effects of eating large amounts of rosehips, consuming high doses of vitamin C may trigger nausea, upset stomach, constipation, and heartburn. Finally, due to their vitamin C, excess rose hip intake may harm those with recurring kidney stones, sickle cell anemia, and hemochromatosis. Some of the active compounds are also thought to interact with certain medicines so as always speak to your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.