Rosehips are an edible fruit which is high in iron and antioxidants, and that has observed anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and skin health improving effects.
Rosehips are the edible fruit of the deciduous rose. They are typically reddish-orange, although black and yellow kinds can be found as well. There are many varieties stemming from the multitude of species of roses that can be found all over the world. Historically, they have been used both as a source of food and as a medicine throughout many cultures for a wide variety of reasons, with the main uses having been for circulation, lotions, tonics, and purifications (both spiritually and physically). We also use rosehips in our Nurture My Skin Adaptogen Blend for their skin nourishing effects. Due to their prevalence, wide usage, and significance of the flower they are derived from, it was also used commonly as a sacred item in many religions - from elixirs made by Rabbi, to sacrifices to the gods of ancient Greek. Today, the most commonly used and studied species are Rosa Canina, Rosa Rugosa, Rosa Acicularis, and Rosa Majalis.
The vitamin content of the rosehip varies based on the species it’s derived from - however, all varieties tend to be quite high in Vitamin C (in the form of citric acid), carotenoids, polyphenols, and oils high in unsaturated lipids, with Rosa Canina being a variety that is particularly high in these nutrients. Rosehips are also an excellent vegan source of iron, having its iron be very bioavailable despite being from a plant source.
Multiple meta-analyses done on various past studies show there is statistically significant evidence that Rosehip powder has anti-inflammatory effects, as well as reportedly being able to provide some pain relief - especially in relation to joint pain caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis. One particular meta-analyses done on three separate randomly controlled human trials on the efficacy of a standardized rosehip powder in treating Osteoarthritis found consistent statistically significant results that showed that Rosehip powder indeed has self reported effects on joint pain:
Although more testing is needed, this shows there is a positive potential for future medical benefits of Rosehip powder, and is evidence that supports some past claims of adaptogenic benefit. Not only that, but unlike standard NSAID treatments typically used as the main method of pain relief for arthritic patients, rosehip has anti-inflammatory actions that do not have ulcerogenic effects, and they also do not inhibit platelets nor influence the coagulation cascade of blood (which is great for those taking blood thinners) or fibrinolysis.
Rosehips contain many nutrients and compounds which can aid in maintaining skin health. The most commonly used form is Rosehip oil, which is applied topically on skin. Rosehip dietary supplements (or Rosehips that are eaten as a food source) that contain the seeds however can also potentially aid in improving and maintaining skin health (they're included in our Nurture My Skin adaptogen blend for this reason). This is due to the seeds being high in polyunsaturated fats, which support a healthy skin membrane and protect your skin from daily stress inducing factors it is commonly exposed to, such as ultraviolet (UV) rays. The following are the three most researched areas of skin health in regards to Rosehips:
Research into the effects of Rosehip supplementation on hyperpigmentation is still young, and mostly in-vitro or based on animal studies. One such study that was done found a strong reduction in the melanin content of mouse melanoma cells when a rosehip extract was used, as you can see in the chart below:
This was achieved while not having any cytotoxic effect on the cells as well. There is however more research done on Rosehip oil’s effect on hyperpigmentation, as will be mentioned in some of the studies seen in the next point. Overall though, it’s best to keep in mind that research on Rosehips’ effects on hyperpigmentation specifically is still developing, but there is consensus that the potential is there and merits further investigation, and there are anecdotal reports of users of some prepared rosehip oil products gaining slightly lighter skin with continued use.
There is much more research into the effects of both Rosehip supplement powders and Rosehip oil on wrinkles and skin moisture. Most research done is using the seeds and shells of R. Canina fruit. It is thought that the high amount of highly bioavailable galactolipids, which are great for collagen health, present in Rosehips is the reason for rosehips observed ability on wrinkle reduction and improved skin health, in combination with statistically significant decline in the leak of hemoglobin from red cells. One significant study that had a total of 34 healthy subjects, aged 35-65 years, with wrinkles on the face (crow's-feet) were subjected to a randomized and double-blinded clinical study of the effects of the rose hip powder, as compared to astaxanthin, a well-known remedy against wrinkles. As the following photos show, the Rosehip powder supplementation had similar visible effect on the skin as the group that was given the astaxanthin:
But the results of the study were not only visual - other tests were done and showed results that Rosehip powder was similarly effective as the astaxanthin in the 8 week period, as the following charts demonstrate (red is Rosehip powder, blue is astaxanthin)
Thus, there is some evidence that supplementation of rosehips alone can improve the condition of the skin. More research is needed to confirm these results, as well as to ensure that they remain consistent when repeated in a larger sample size, however, the initial research shows promise.
Rosehips do not seem to interact with many standard over the counter and prescription medications. The worst interaction they may have is with certain antibiotics, and that’s mostly with gastrointestinal distress that is relatively minor. That makes Rosehips a particularly stable and safe supplement for those who may already take a lot of medication, and the high iron, vitamin C, and antioxidant content of Rosehips also make it an encouraging addition to your meals, eaten as food, or as a supplement. They also could be a superb alternative or addition to helping with pain management in those who take blood thinners and can’t take NSAIDs, since Rosehips do not increase the anticoagulatory of those medications nor does it have any anticoagulative effects of its own. Overall, a great supplement/food to take for daily general adaptogenic and nutritional wellness - not to mention skin health!
1: Rose Hip. (2020, May 09). Retrieved May 19, 2020, from https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/rose-hip
2: Nybom, H., & Werlemark, G. (2016). Realizing the Potential of Health-Promoting Rosehips from Dogroses (Rosa sect. Caninae). Current Bioactive Compounds, 13(1), 3–17. doi: 10.2174/1573407212666160607090635
Retrieved May 19, 2020 from https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/cbc/2017/00000013/00000001/art00004
3: Christensen, R., Bartels, E., Altman, R., Astrup, A., & Bliddal, H. (2008). Does the hip powder of Rosa canina (rosehip) reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients? – a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 16(9), 965–972. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2008.03.001
Retrieved May 22, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18407528/
4: Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. (n.d.). Rosehip – an evidence based herbal medicine for inflammation and arthritis. Retrieved May 24, 2020, from https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/201207/47504
5: Winther, K., Wongsuphasawat, K., & Phetcharat, L. (2015). The effectiveness of a standardized rose hip powder, containing seeds and shells of Rosa canina, on cell longevity, skin wrinkles, moisture, and elasticity. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 1849. doi: 10.2147/cia.s90092 Retrieved May 25, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26604725/
6: Fujii, T., Ikeda, K., & Saito, M. (2011). Inhibitory Effect of Rose Hip (Rosa caninaL.) on Melanogenesis in Mouse Melanoma Cells and on Pigmentation in Brown Guinea Pigs. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 75(3), 489–495. doi: 10.1271/bbb.100702 Retrieved May 25, 2020 from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1271/bbb.100702
7: Winther, K., Wongsuphasawat, K., & Phetcharat, L. (2015). The effectiveness of a standardized rose hip powder, containing seeds and shells of Rosa canina, on cell longevity, skin wrinkles, moisture, and elasticity. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 1849. doi: 10.2147/cia.s90092 Retrieved May 25, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26604725/
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