Scientific Name(S): Commonly derived from Rosa canina L., R. rugosa Thunb., R. acicularis Lindl. or R cinnamomea L. Numerous other species of rose have been used for the preparation of rose hips. Family: Rosaceae
Common Name(S): Rose hips, "heps," dog rose (R. canina)
Botany: Rose hips grow from a perennial plant, which can grow 3 to 5 meters in height. Their thorny branches give way to pink and white flowers and scarlet fruits, called "hips." These rose hips are the ripe ovaries or seeded fruit of roses forming on branches after the flower. They are approximately 1 to 2 cm long by 0.5 to 1.5 cm thick; oval in shape; and fleshy, shrunken, and wrinkled. Inside the hips are 3 or more small (3 to 5 mm), angular, yellow-brown seeds. R. canina is native to Europe, North Africa, and temperate areas of Asia. The fruits (hips) are picked in autumn and used for the "drug."
History: Once used as a folk remedy for chest ailments, R. canina hips were popular in the Middle Ages.' They are a natural source of vitamin C, which has led to their widespread use in natural vitamin supplements, teas, and various other preparations including soups and marmalades. Although these products have been used historically as nutritional supplements, they have also been used as mild laxatives and diuretics. Rose hip syrup was used as a nourishing drink for children. It was also used to flavor teas and jams.
Uses of Rose Hips:
Rose hips provide vitamin C supplements. Rose hips have been used for diuretic actions, to reduce thirst, to alleviate gastric inflammation, and to flavor teas and jams.
Side Effects of Rose Hips:
There have been no reported side effects except in those exposed to rose hips dust who have developed severe respiratory allergies.
Toxicology: Rose hips ingestion is not generally associated with toxicity. More than 100 g of plant material. would have to be ingested to obtain a 1200 mg dose of vitamin C, an impractical amount to ingest. Most people do not have any side effects from ingesting small quantities of the plant. Adverse effects associated with the long-term ingestion of multi-gram doses of vitamin C (ie, oxalate stone formation) have not been reported with rose hips. The German Commission E Monographs lists risks of rose hips as "none known." However, production workers exposed to rose hips dust have developed severe respiratory allergies, with mild-to-moderate anaphylaxis. One report describes a German ground rose hips product sold as "itching powder" in novelty shops. The fibers of the plant seem to provoke itch and prickle sensations not by allergic means, but by mechanical irritation, similar to those of wool.
Summary: Rose hips are a pleasant-tasting source of natural vitamin C. Because the concentration of the vitamin is relatively low, one must ingest large amounts of the product to serve as a nutritional 'supplement. Many natural rose hips products are fortified with ascorbic acid. Rose hips also contain other vitamins and may be used as supplementation for deficiencies. Rose hips are not generally associated with toxicity.
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