Long before roses became a cherished, though challenging, plant for many home gardeners, roses were grown primarily for use as a food and medicine, according to the University of Vermont Extension Service. In England during World War II, when supplies of fresh citrus products were depleted, rose hips were harvested and processed into syrup by the Ministry of Health. Rose hips provide a variety of essential vitamins and other nutrients and may alleviate symptoms of some health conditions.
Rose hips are best known for their high vitamin C content, providing 426 milligrams of vitamin C in 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces, and are commonly used as a source of natural vitamin C for supplement production. However, as much as 90 percent of the vitamin C might be destroyed in the drying process, and if you purchase rose hip tea the hot water that you use to prepare the tea can destroy still more, according to Michael Castleman, author of "The New Healing Herbs: The Classic Guide to Nature's Best Medicines."
An excellent source of several important nutrients besides vitamin C, rose hips provide 87 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin A in 100 grams, 28 percent of the vitamin E and about a third of the daily requirement for vitamin K. Minerals in rose hips include calcium and magnesium, present in nearly the same two-to-one ratio that your body uses for this synergistic pair. Rose hips are also high in fiber, supplying 96 percent of your daily fiber needs in one 100-gram serving.
You can use rose hips to alleviate bladder conditions, help heal infections and as a treatment for diarrhea, according to Phyllis Balch, author of the book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fatty acids in rose hips may be partly responsible for the benefits seen in these and other inflammatory conditions, including arthritis, colds and flu, according to a study published in the December 2011 issue of the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology." In the laboratory animal study, rose hip extract inhibited activity of COX-2, an enzyme that initiates inflammation and is the target of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Further research is needed to confirm these preliminary results.
Red blood cells are protected from oxidation by a variety of compounds in rose hips, including vitamin C and phenol antioxidants, according to a study published in the 2012 issue of the journal "Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity." In the test tube study, researchers mixed freeze-dried rose hip powder with red blood cells and found that rose hip extract protected red blood cells from oxidation by as much as 68 percent. Further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results.
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch
- Journal of Ethnopharmacology: Anti-inflammatory Activities and Mechanisms of Action of the Petroleum Ether Fraction of Rosa Multiflora Thunb. Hips
Tracey Roizman, DC is a writer and speaker on natural and preventive health care and a practicing chiropractor. She also holds a B.S. in nutritional biochemistry.