During the Second World War, rose hips were used in jam, jellies, soups and stews to boost vitamin C levels during food rationing.
Nowadays, rose hip is used in supplements to support cartilage formation – the tough, elastic tissue that cushions our joints, as well as for bone health.
Dr Sarah Brewer says: ‘Rose hip has a useful anti-inflammatory action that helps to ease joint aches and pains. Extracts are available in multiple forms, including teas, tablets, syrup, powder, and oils. Rose hip supplements can be used together with other joint-building supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, and with joint-friendly omega 3 fish oils.’
What does rose hip do?
Rose hip contains polyphenols and anthocyanins – plant chemicals which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and are believed to ease joint pain.
Rose hip also contains other antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids (plant pigments), which can protect cells in the body from damage by free radicals which are unstable oxygen molecules that may cause diseases such as arthritis and heart disease.
Rose hip works in a similar way to aspirin. It hinders an important group of enzymes (known as COX-1 and COX-2) involved in the pain and inflammation process. A substance found in rose hips has also been shown to inhibit the activity of inflammatory white blood cells, while also lowering levels of inflammation markers in the blood.
Over 80 per cent of people taking a rose hip extract in a review of studies reported noticeable benefits after just three weeks, with reductions in both pain and joint stiffness.
In one review, the level of pain relief shown in four clinical trials was equivalent to that achieved with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), paracetamol, and aspirin, but with remarkably fewer side-effects. As a result, half of people involved in the studies said that they reduced their use of pain-killers and anti-inflammatory drugs when taking rosehip supplements.
Studies have shown that rose hip extract may successfully reduce and prevent obesity. Abdominal fat, body weight and body mass index all decreased in a group taking a daily rosehip extract over a 12-week period (and no dietary interventions), compared to a group taking placebo. The benefits of rose hip extract may even extend to the treatment of diabetes through its effect on how our cells absorb glucose. More research is needed to fully understand this impact though.
Getting rose hip from your diet
It’s not possible to get enough from dietary sources alone, hence most people rely on concentrated sources, such as supplements.
Although some mild side effects have been reported, such as allergic reactions, constipation, diarrhoea and heartburn, most studies have found rose hip leads to fewer side effects than standard pain medication.
Always check with your GP before taking rose hip – especially if you are on any prescribed medication, notably immune system stimulants, blood thinning anti-coagulants or anti-platelet aggregating agents.
There is no official recommended dosage for rose hip, but experts suggest a daily intake of 250mg tablet of standardised Rose Hip extract supplement, (equivalent to 5,000mg rose hips) or a super strength 625mg extract supplement equivalent to 12,500mg whole rose hips.