Rose Hip, which is scientifically called Rosa eglanteria or Rosa rubiginosa, is a plant species with remarkable properties and medicinal benefits for our health. This fact is supported by its long history as an active principle used with therapeutic purposes specially in popular medicine. It has been traditionally used to treat skin disorders, such as wrinkles, scars, skin patches and the effects of aging.
General characteristics of the rose hip plant
It is a species that can be found in the wild or cultivated in controlled crops. Its aspect is that of a typical bush that is capable of growing more than two meters. If we have a look at its morphological aspect, it has an stylized and highly flexible stem, and its surface is filled with thorns of a purplish tone.
Its common name comes from the red fruit and it is used for all the plants that belong to the botanical genus Rosa. The most abundant one in Europe is Rosa canina.
After the dehiscence of the corolla and the petals, the rose hips are the mature fruit that is used to obtained the precious oil, as we will explain later on. So, when we speak about rose hips we are not referring to any variety of rose hip in particular, but to the fruit of all these species, Rosa eglanteria or rubiginosa and Rosa canina. However, these varieties differ in the singular shape of their fruits, which can be long, spherical, red, orange or purple, etc.
Foundations for its cultivation
It has an extraordinary environmental and biological resistance due to its feisty nature. It is a plant with a very low maintenance that barely has any requirements when it comes to its cultivation. In fact, its ability to adapt to multiple climatic and agricultural conditions is reflected on its tendency to invade terrains that are destined to herding or several types of crops.
Its resistance can be illustrated in its ability to cope with periods of severe drought or poor soil with a bad drainage and a high pH (alkaline soils), as well as its almost immunity to other plants, plagues, or diseases.
If you want to cultivate rose hips domestically, the best thing to do would be to start with a cutting. The proper size should be around 25cm length, which is the size that has more vigor during the growth of the plant in its incipient period.
Apart from the size, another determining factor will be the recipient that is used to plant it; the best choice would be classic pots, which can be simply made of plastic with a 20cm depth, which is the minimum that this plant requires to develop its roots completely.
Obviously, the substrate that is used to enrich the soil also plays an important role; the most advisable ones are worm hummus, beef manure and washed sand.
The origin of rose hip
We have to look for the ancestors of this peculiar vegetable species in the east of the old continent, where it experienced a wide expansion a long time ago, until it colonized the two American subcontinents, most of Asia and northern Africa.
Today, the main ecosystem of this plant is the Chilean Andes, where there is an abundant cultivation of rose hips. It seems that it has grown in this area for a long time, since there is evidence that the Araucanian Indians already used rose hips for multiple applications. One of them was as a vegetable oil due to its properties to take care of the skin by treating scars and wrinkles.
At the same time, it is known that the old inhabitants of the Patagonia used this plant to preserve the elasticity of the skin, to accelerate wound healing, and even as an ingredient for a typical sweet recipe of their gastronomy.
If we focus on its current production in 2018, Chile stands over the rest of countries, since it provides more than three quarters of the amount of raw rose hip in the world.
What are the components that make it so important
There are many reasons why rose hip has been named as the “fruit of eternal youth”, but all these properties come from a common source: its richness in antioxidant substances for the skin, which act on the biochemistry of the cell membranes from the skin epithelium.
This plant specially stands out due to its essential fatty acids content, which is one of the active ingredients from the chemical composition from which the oil is obtained. They belong to the omega 6 and omega 3 series, and the linoleic one is the most abundant of them all.
At the same time, rose hips have plenty of vitamins (retinol or vitamin A, ascorbic acid or vitamin C, and tocopherol or vitamin E), all of them with remarkable antioxidant properties. This is why it is excellent to take care of the health of the skin and the whole organism in general. Without any doubt, one of its most outstanding features is its high content in vitamin C, which is 8 times higher than that of kiwi and 20 more than lemon.
However, there are more substances that make up the biochemical composition of rose hip. Apart from vitamin A as retinol and provitamin or β-carotene, it contains tretinoin, all-trans retinoic acid or ATRA, which are the names of its acid form. This substance makes up an active ingredient that appears in most of the formulas that are prescribed to combat wrinkles, crow’s feet, flaccidity, and stretch marks, due to its extraordinary ability to stimulate the regeneration of epithelial cells.
A great combination of benefits and properties for health
Rose hip oil is an extraordinary cosmetic element for skin care due to the fact that it stimulates the formation of collagen on the skin, since it is the basic protein of the connective tissue; consequently, it works as a powerful healer of scars and marks. It is also a good skin astringent that helps to protect the skin against the effects of aging.
This combination of antioxidant substances, vitamins (some of them with an antioxidant effect as well), and essential fatty acids, results in a synergy that performs a lot of functions on the skin: reducing stretch marks, regenerating scar tissue, reducing hyper-pigmentation, smoothing dry skins, acne etc.
Its effect against osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
One of the benefits of rose hip that has been most studied and which has obtained more evidence of its effects, is its ability to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, specially acute joint pain.
The reason of its efficiency lies in its anti-inflammatory power and its protective effect on the joint cartilages. There are research studies that have been conducted on patients affected by hip or knee osteoarthritis, who underwent a treatment of 5 grams of rose hip powder extract daily. The result was a remarkable relief of chronic and acute pain, which was obtained with a significantly lower dose than traditional medicines after two weeks of treatment.
Rose hips can be as effective or even more so than glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, or renowned medicines for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Rose hip against menstrual pain
Apart from buffering the pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, this natural substance has a remarkable analgesic power for the pain associated with dysmenorrhea, a pathology that affects the development of menstrual cycles with acute abdominal pain. In this sense, its effectiveness rivals that of mefenamic acid, a medicine that tends to be advised by gynecologists to treat dysmenorrhea.
It also deals with cardiovascular diseases
There are several scientific studies that back up the use of rose hip for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure, the cholesterol levels in general, and the LDL/HDL relation (that is “bad”/”good” cholesterol). In fact, the oil from this plant is a highly effective substance for those who have high levels of cholesterol.
If we focus on one of said studies, it concluded that the risk of suffering a cardiovascular disease dropped a 17% in 30 people who were given a liquid with rose hip extract at 1% for one month and a half.
Obesity can be controlled with rose hip
One of the most common disorders of developed societies is obesity. The nutrition organizations and endocrinology experts have spent more than two decades trying to apply different measures to stop what could even be regarded as an epidemic disorder.
Tiliroside is a bioflavonoid that makes up part of the natural composition of this plant, and it has been used in experiments with animals in order to test its efficiency to control obesity that is related to diabetes. One of the studies subjected obese rats to a hypercaloric diet, rich in fats, that was supplemented with 100 mg of tiliroside/ kg of body weight for three weeks. The bioactivity of this substance in the liver produced a decrease of the fat deposits in the adipose tissue. A similar result was obtained with the consumption of rose hip extracts or 50mg/kg of rose hip seeds for two weeks, or rose hip powder for ten weeks.
It was also studied how certain individuals with obesity or pre-obesity reacted to a daily administration of different rose hip extracts for a long period of time. The conclusion was that this supplementation reduces the deposits of abdominal fat seemingly without side effects. Therefore, the scientific community agrees on including the Rosa genus in the group of substances that are suitable for therapies against obesity.
The active compounds that have been quoted are not found in the oil, but they are present in the powder that is obtained when other parts of the plant are combined, which points to the importance of the mode of administration of rose hip.
Immunity is not left aside
There is also positive evidence about the effects of rose hip on the immune mechanisms of the organism. Its support against bacterial and viral infections can be seen in the way it increases the bloodstream to those areas where the flow has more difficulties to arrive.
The benefits of rose hip oil in particular
Rose hip oil is one of the products that has created more expectations among cosmetic oils thanks to its properties in the fields of dermatology, nutrition, and cosmetics.
The discovery of its properties, especially its benefits for the skin, was brought to light through a study from the Chemistry and Pharmacology Faculty of the University of Chile, which tested its wound healing properties in 200 patients.
Rose hip oil is currently regarded as one of the most consistent skin regenerators, apart from being innocuous.
It is a great ally for all these things we are going to discuss now.
The aspect of the skin in general
This oil is absorbed by the skin at an incredible speed with a 5.1 pH, which creates a great affinity with the skin. Moreover, it is odorless and its texture is suitable for topical treatments.
The remarkable concentration of the essential fatty acids from this oil (three quarters of all the acids of this plant) improves the elasticity of the skin and provides it with much more firmness. In fact, if it is used daily during pregnancy, it helps to avoid one of its typical consequences, the onset of stretch marks on the skin of the abdomen. Moreover, it is effective to prevent the acne that typically appears during periods like puberty.
As we previously mentioned, transretinoic acid is the acid form of vitamin A and the most important active ingredient of rose hip to fight against the wrinkles and laugh lines. But its positive effects do not stop there, since it is also known for preventing the onset of skin patches as we grow old, apart from cleaning the skin pores.
On the other hand, we should take into account that the ultraviolet radiation from the sun and the chemical compounds that float in the atmosphere are harmful for the skin. This oil creates a kind of shield that protects the epidermis and prevents the consequences of these external factors, for example skin cancer. But it does not only provide renowned preventive measures, but it can also reduce the damage due to its regenerative power.
Without any doubt, a constant use of rose hip oil on the skin will be a rejuvenating, anti-wrinkles, and anti-eye bags factor. It is advisable to apply it with a ball of cotton in order to remove the patches little by little.
It provides very good results after a peeling (a scrubbing treatment with chemical substances).
Its fatty acids are involved in the mechanism of certain epithelial cell functions that are indispensable for the recovery of the lost substance in a tissue injury, apart from keeping it properly hydrated.
It could also be used for the recovery of skins that have suffered changes after a radiotherapy treatment.
Rose hip oil is capable of providing nutrients to the hair follicles due to its fast and easy absorption through the scalp, which also nourishes the epithelial layers; in this way, it is suitable to eliminate the dandruff by reducing the scaliness and dryness of the hair by improving the hydration. There is no risk of producing greasiness since the oil does not leave a trace of superficial fat.
If you apply it on dyed hair, it provides brightness and firmness, helping to compensate for the deterioration caused by certain products, excessive exposure to the sun, or extreme cold.
Against the fall of eyelashes
In the same way that rose hips have a beneficial effect on the hair, it is also good for the lashes, since it combats their dryness by hydrating the hair follicles, which gives them vigor and prevents them from falling. As a precaution, you should clean the contour of the lashes thoroughly with a cotton ball and a make-up remover, until you clean all the dust and particles. Then you can apply it, a let it act for a few minutes.
For the hands and joints
In the same way that rose hip oil provides an extraordinary hydration for the scalp, the hands will also benefit from this oil and its ability to recover from the effects of the passing of time.
Rose hip oil can strengthen the nails by applying some of the oil regularly on each of the nails, and letting the nail bed absorb it.
Elbows, heels, and knees will benefit from a regular use of this precious liquid, since they are areas that tend to be dry. Rose hips will help to preserve their smoothness and elasticity.
Other external injuries
Linoelic acid, which is the main omega-6 fatty acid, helps to repair the capillaries and other tiny vessels that have suffered any injury in their walls, which tends to result in the onset of skin erythema or reddening of the skin.
Rose hips can also help to treat other skin disorders such as Pityriasis rosea (skin rash characterized by pinkish patches of skin and intense itching) and acne.
Also for the respiratory tract
Rose hip oil should be taken into account when it comes to preventing certain respiratory disorders like asthma, due to its great percentage of vitamin C.
Let’s not forget that it also has the possibility of preventing several types of cancer.
One of the greatest virtues of rose hip oil is that it provides a great supply of carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols, all of them are powerful antioxidants that combat the harmful effects of the free radicals on the cell membranes and, consequently, they can be considered preventive cancer factors.
Stop the diabetes
Rose hip oil, which is perfectly edible, contributes to regulating the level of glucose in the blood, which contributes to reducing the risk of suffering diabetes.
To favor the dilation during labor
Like other oils, rose hip can be useful for certain stages of pregnancy and not only to prevent the onset of stretch marks in the breasts, abdomen, and glutes. It can also be used a few days before labor, in the entrance of the vagina and perineum in order to provide them with elasticity to favor the dilation when the labor takes place.
How is the oil obtained
The oil is obtained from the red fruit of the wild rose, through a cold pressure processing, which results in the so coveted rose hip oil. The raw ingredient tends to be Rosa canina, but Rosa eglanteria is used as well.
The procedure involves a careful process to prepare the fruit that goes through the following stages:
- Harvest during the months of February, March, and April. The fruit is manually harvested to avoid damaging the peel.
- The red fruit is prepared before the drying process, taking advantage of the energy from the sun.
- The fruits are put in trays inside an oven and they are dehydrated at a temperature that preserves their characteristics.
- Selection. Once they are dehydrated, there is a selection that separates the red fruit from the seed, and the former undergoes a grinding process.
- The seeds are subjected to a delicate extraction process through cold mechanical pressing which produces the rose hip oil.
What are the uses of rose hip
The distillation of the petals is done to obtain extracts like “rose water” that works as an anti-inflammatory eyewash and even as a mild aphrodisiac element.
The fruits have an interesting purpose in the food industry, which is due to their efficacy as antioxidant additives in products like Frankfurt sausages, pre-cooked hamburgers, or cured ham, to name a few. This fact has been getting more and more attention now in 2018 because the average consumer has increased the demands of food with less synthetic and more natural additives, due to the fact that they are often known for being potential allergens and cancerous substances.
A rose hip infusion or tea is an interesting tool to reinforce the defense mechanism of the organism against diseases. It also affects the metabolism, since it stimulates the enzymatic reactions that take place inside the cells. As it has been previously explained in other sections, we should not forget about their excellent role as a tissue restorative.
This tea is made with the flowers, seeds and red fruits, we blend everything together in order to get a great source of vitamins A, C, B1, B2, and B3 and a nutritious amount of flavonoids and polyphenols which have a renowned antioxidant effect. Drinking this tea can help to prevent colds and the flu mainly due to the amount of vitamin C that it provides. It is precisely this feature that is extremely advisable for smokers, who are less capable of absorbing this essential micronutrient.
This tea can also help to keep the uric acid in blood on track, which is why it is advised for gout, since it is caused by an excess of this acid.
It should also be taken into account that it has diuretic and laxative effects, although to a lesser degree. More specifically, a tea that is made solely with rose hip petals is an excellent cleansing and purifying agent that cleans the excreting apparatus, and it is even used to support the therapy to dissolve gallstones and kidneys stones.
It has also proven to be somehow an effective support for the treatment of depressive states.
Side effects and contraindications
An excessive amount on the skin can cause acne, especially on skin with a high seborrheic content, mainly due to its high percentage of lipids.
If we choose an oral administration, rose hip can also cause side effects that are related to the digestive system, such as nausea, vomits, diarrhea, constipation, gastric acidity and stomach discomfort. There have also been cases of fatigue, headaches and sleep disorders.
On the other hand, inhaling rose hip powder accidentally can cause an allergic reaction, which will depend on each person’s degree of hypersensitivity to allergens.
Even though there is no evidence that rose hip is counterproductive during lactation, it is advisable to make sure that the baby does not ingest the oil if we use it on the breasts.
When it comes to rugosin E, another chemical compound that we can find in rose hips. It is believed that it can hinder the coagulation mechanism of the blood, which would mean that rose hip is responsible for hemorrhages if is used two weeks before a surgery.
Regarding this issue, it is not advisable to consume it along medicines that interfere in the coagulation of the blood, like acetylsalicylic acid, dalteparin, enoxaparin, heparin, or warfarin, among others.
There is also evidence that the rose hip extract could cause a mild renal insufficiency, but there is not enough information to confirm this.
In the case of the metabolism of iron, there are disorders such as an iron overload, thalassemia or anemia which would prevent us from taking rose hips in any of their formats. The cause lies in the fact that vitamin C interferes in the absorption of this metal, which can only make matters worse.
It could hinder the excretion of lithium in patients who are taking medicines that contain it, since an excess of this metal could produce severe symptoms and problems. Lithium is used to treat acute episodes of bipolar disorder or manic depression.
The same happens with many substances when they make direct contact with the skin, rose hip is not exempt from producing some kind of skin irritation or an allergy, even remotely. Even though one of the reasons why it is used topically is to treat skin irritation, some sensitive skins can reject this oil. This tends to happen in those who suffer atopy or if they are hypersensitive to some plants.
Either if you consume a powder extract, oil or capsule, rose hip can increase the estrogen levels. Therefore, those women who are already taking estrogens, like oral contraceptive pills, can experience muscle cramps, fatigue, headaches, and insomnia or at least difficulty to sleep.
How to take rose hip
An infusion made of rose hip has quite remarkable regenerating and rejuvenating effects. Rose hip tea can be either combined with green tea or you can alternate them. This will provide a great supply of vitamins, citric acid, carotenes, flavonoids, polyphenols and tanins among other substances.
This drink can be used as a mild laxative since it is a little bit diuretic, but it especially tones up the organism in general. However, it can be a little flavorless if it is consumed alone, which does not make it really appetizing. So, in order to encourage its consumption, it would be better to use it with any other substance that tastes better.
The fruits from rose hip can be used as the raw ingredient of tinctures, jams, gelatin, cosmetic creams, food and even alcoholic drinks with a low alcohol content (there are already liquors being made from the distillation of rose hip). Regardless of the type of preparation, it has to be preserved in ventilated and dry places, away from sunlight or machines that produce electromagnetic radiations such as microwaves or televisions.
If you want to experience the results of rose hip oil you will have to take a teaspoon daily for at least six weeks.
Rose hip oil can be consumed as a nutritional supplement during pregnancy: in fact, the specialists are advising a daily dose not higher than 10ml (a spoonful more or less) and always raw.
Another possibility is to consume the pulp of the red fruit, once it has been macerated in water for a night and cooked for half an hour. A spoonful will provide more than 60mg of vitamin C, which is the recommended daily amount. In this way, it can be an excellent reinforcement for the immune system in order to treat a cold. The pulp can also be used as the raw ingredient of sauces and gelatin.
What is the difference between rose hip creams and its oil?
The main difference lies in the fact that the oil is richer in rose hip than any cream. However, the creams are easier to manipulate due to their consistency. They provide a lower amount of the original substance but they still provide a lot of active principles such as hyaluronic acid and collagen. Moreover, you can add a few drops of oil to the creams in order to enrich them, which can be done to any hydrating cream. This will enhance its power to repair the skin in cases of acne or scars.
Rose hip oil that is produced without any additives nor external agents will preserve all the power of the Rosa rubiginosa or Rosa canina to regenerate the epithelial tissue.
In order to give a more or less clear administration pattern, let’s say that if you use capsules you should consume 1 or 2 capsules twice a day (4.5g), with one serving before the main meal. If you use oil, you should use a few drops a couple of times and massage the area in circles for two minutes or so. If the oil is consumed orally, the dose will be a spoonful daily.
How can we combine rose hip?
One of the most renowned uses due to its efficacy is its combination with aloe vera, which has certain benefits for the aspect and health of the skin, like dissimulating the scars, laugh lines, and wrinkles, reducing the excess of skin grease, emptying the pores and giving a more elastic texture to the skin. The synergy between rose hip and aloe vera will provide a maximum regeneration that will stop the aging of the skin and solve skin problems such as acne or burns.
Another useful combination is that of an infusion with olive leaves, apple and rose hip. This blend of natural ingredients is perfect to make a sweet and refreshing tea. But let’s talk a little bit more of the two elements that accompany the rose hip.
The olive leaf strengthens the immune system, balances the blood pressure, relieves the symptoms of arthritis and prevents the onset and development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson and Alzheimer.
On the other hand, apart from its vitamin supply, the apple detoxifies the liver, reduces the HDL cholesterol levels or bad cholesterol and helps to fight against insomnia.
Supplements that contain rose hip
Most of the supplements containing rose hip are sold as skin oils in the market. However, the powder and capsule formats also have important benefits for health.
In fact, the rose hip powder is considered a superfood. Rose hip powder is an excellent cell rejuvenator, especially if it comes from ecological agriculture and it has been dehydrated at low temperatures in order to preserve its nutritional properties. Take it by mixing five grams daily in any liquid.
The prices of the products made of essential oils like rose hip oils change depending on who sells them and the size of the packaging. In general, they tend to cost between 6 or 7 euros for 15ml vials or even 24 euros if it is a 150ml format.
You can also purchase preparations with formulas that combine vitamin C with rose hip, which have been designed for situations when you need an extraordinary supply of vitamin C to enhance the immune system.
We should also mention those supplements that combine vitamin C, rose hip, and bioflavonoids which are renowned for their properties for health, but especially for their ability to accelerate the decrease of fatty deposits in the organism while encouraging the growth of muscle mass. The explanation of this double performance lies on the fact that vitamin C is indispensable for the metabolic reactions of the lipid oxidation, which are basic to take advantage of the energy they produce. On the other hand, it reduces the glucocorticoids levels which increase after an intense exercise, and which stimulate the body’s tendency to accumulate fat.
There are several brands that sell easy-to-swallow softgels that contain half a gram of rose hip oil obtained through cold pressure. It is advisable to take one softgel daily.