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This time of year, you may notice the deep red, vibrant colors of maturing rosehips, as many other plants are dying back. Have you ever wondered about their medicinal uses? If so, read on, as we’re including a few recipes and a monograph on rosehips from our forthcoming book The Essential Guide to Western Botanical Medicine.
Botanical Name(s): Rosa canina, R. gallica, R. rugosa, R. villosa, R. spp.
Common Name(s): Rose hips, hip berries
Family Name: Rosaceae
Rose hips provide a rich herbal source of vitamin C and flavonoids; they are considered to have antiscorbutic effects (scurvy preventative). The flavonoids synergize the effects of vitamin C. The vitamin C content enhances the integrity of connective tissue and reduces inflammation. The vitamin C and flavonoid content also support the immune system and counter the stress response.
Note: After commercial processing of rose hips, the remaining vitamin C content is questionable.
Rose hips have antioxidant properties that support the heart and cardiovascular system. They enhance the integrity of the vascular system, and can be used as a daily tonic to reduce capillary fragility and permeability. Rose hips also can be used for long-term treatment of varicose veins, degenerative vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and hypertension, as well as diabetes and allergies. They are useful in speeding the healing of bruises and wounds.
Rose hip tea has mucilaginous properties that coat and soothe the mucus membranes. The tea is beneficial as a demulcent for treating a sore throat, cold, or flu. The mucilage coats the mucus membranes throughout the digestive tract. The tea soothes the digestive tissues after stomach flu, antibiotic use, dysentery, or giardia. It also has mild laxative effects.
Rose hips contain a high amount of pectin. Pectin is highly ionic, and can draw and hold environmental toxins, radioactive compounds, and heavy metals, enhancing detoxification after subsequent exposure.
Rose hips are a refrigerant and can be consumed with hibiscus to cool the body.
Some individuals may experience mild irritation from the hairs on the seed; avoid this unpleasant experience by straining the tea through a paper coffee filter.
Rosehips Stay Juicy Jam
2.5 ounces rosehips (cut and deseeded)
1 ounce lycii berries
1 ounce orange peel
½ ounce schisandra berry (powdered)
4 cups non-citrus fruit juice such as apple juice or my personal favorite, Knudsen’s Cherry Cider
Place the ingredients in a jar and soak overnight. Blend together in a food processor the following morning and pour into a clean, dry mason jar. Sweeten only if desired. Store the jam in the refrigerator. Consume one to two tablespoons per day.
Why is this recipe called Stay Juicy Jam?
It contains an herb called schisandra, a kidney yin tonifying herb that increases secretions of the mucus membranes.
Why would you want to increase secretions?
The mucus membranes that line the respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive tracts secrete small amounts of mucus that protect the tissues from irritation and infection. If your membranes are dry, you’re more likely to get sick. For example, if your throat or lung tissues are dry, they’re more susceptible infection.
Wow! This recipe improves my sex life too?
Yes! Schisandra increases vaginal secretions that lubricate the tissues, making penetration far more pleasurable and enhancing the quantity and quality of seminal fluid. In addition to the kidney yin tonifying properties, it has yang tonifying properties that increase libido, stamina, and circulation to the reproductive organs. Lycii and rosehips also have kidney yin tonifying actions that can increase sexual fluids.
Simple Rosehip Jam
5 ounces rosehips (cut and deseeded)
4 cups non-citrus fruit juice such as apple juice
Place the rosehips in a jar and cover with four cups of a non-citrus fruit juice; soak overnight. Blend together in a food processor the following morning and pour into a clean, dry mason jar. Sweeten only if desired. Store the jam in the refrigerator. Consume one to two tablespoons per day.
Tart and Tasty! A vitamin C and flavonoid-rich tea
2 tablespoons rosehips and hawthorn berry
1 tablespoon orange peel
½ tablespoon schisandra and licorice
A pinch of stevia
Place herbs in a 32 ounce mason jar and cover with boiled water. Place a lid on the jar and steep for one hour (or longer). Pour through a strainer and drink up to one quart of the tea throughout the day.
Part(s) Used: The fruit, also known as rose hips.
Habitat and Locality: Wild rose grows in shady, moist areas such as stream banks and mixed evergreen forests throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The Name: Rosa is derived from the Greek word rodon meaning red. The epithet canina originated from the Latin word caninus meaning “pertaining to a dog or dogs.” Gallica is derived from the Latin gallicus meaning “pertaining to gaul or the gauls.” Rugosa stems from the Latin word rugosus meaning wrinkled, in reference to the leaves’ reticulate venation that is prominent underneath, with corresponding creases on the upper side. Villosa originates from the Latin word villosus meaning shaggy.
Historical Uses: When ripe, rose hips were consumed sparingly by Northwest coast tribes, including the Cowichan, Saanich, Ditidaht, Nuu-chah-multh, and Makah. The fruits were steamed, mashed, and fed to babies with diarrhea. The outer rind of the fruit was eaten because the seeds contain hair that aggravated the digestive tract.1,6
Europeans were encouraged to gather and consume wild rose hips during World War II; they were recognized as a rich source of scarce vitamin C.
Constituents: Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), organic acids (malic and citric acid), flavonoids (chiefly flavonols: quercetin, rutin, hesperidin, kaempferol), pectin, sugars (invert sugar, glucose, fructose, sucrose), tannins (proanthocyanidins), carotenoids (carotene, lutein), polyphenols, leucoanthocyanins, catechins, riboflavin.2-7
Nutritional Properties: Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), flavonoids (see above), and carotenoids. Rose hips also contain high amounts of betacarotene, chromium, niacin, riboflavin, selenium, sodium, thiamine, tin, crude fiber, and dietary fiber. They contain average amounts of calcium, fat, and phosphorus, and low amounts of cobalt, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, silicon, and zinc.2-4(p147),5,6(p118)
Medicinal Properties: Antiscorbutic, nutritive, demulcent, and refrigerant.
Energetic Properties: Warm, sour, sweet, and salty.
METHODS OF PREPARATION AND DOSAGE
Tincture: Fresh [1:2 or 1:3, 95% alcohol] or dry [1:5, 50-60% alcohol]; consume 10-60 drops, one to three times a day.
Tea: Consume 8-12 oz. of the hot or cold infusion or strong decoction, three to four times a day. To obtain the nutrient content, the hot or cold infusion is ideal; however, the decoction extracts the most mucilage.
Culinary Uses: Make rose hip jam by placing 1 cup of cut, sifted, and deseeded rose hips in a clean, dry mason jar. Cover with 2 cups of apple juice (or any non-citrus, unsweetened fruit juice) and steep overnight. Blend and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for one to two months. Consume 1 tablespoon, one to three times a day. Rose hip jam is a wonderful way to obtain the nutrients and mucilage.
1. Pojar J, MacKinnon A. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Vancouver, BC: Lone Pine Publishing; 1994: 74.
2. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: A John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2003:443.
3. Mabey R. The New Age Herbalist. New York, NY: Gaia books; 1988:106.
4. Pedersen M. Nutritional Herbology: A Reference Guide to Herbs. Warsaw, IN: Wendell W. Whitman Company; 1998:148.
5. Skenderi G. Herbal Vade Mecum. Rutherford, NJ: Herbacy Press; 2003:321.
6. Willard T. Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rocky Mountains and Neighboring Territories. Calgary, AB: Wild Rose College of Natural Healing; 1992:293.
7. The Wild Rose Scientific Herbal. Calgary, AB: Wild Rose College of Natural Healing; 1991: 293-295.