A recent review published in Current Pharmaceutical Design looked at traditional rose hip uses and its therapeutic potential.
The Rosa genus of the Rosaceae family is a group that contains a wide range of rose plant species. Rose hip, also known as rose haw, is the fruit produced by the rose plant. Typically red to orange in colour, it is known to have high levels of vitamin C and other vitamins and nutrients.
Rose hips have long been used for their medicinal value, including the treatment of inflammation, gout, and ear, nose, and throat problems. They have also been used as a laxative and have high amounts of antioxidants. The therapeutic potential of rose hip has prompted a number of studies to explore and confirm these medicinal rose hip uses.
In a recent review published in Current Pharmaceutical Design, Irani researchers examined the pharmacologic properties of rose hip and traditional rose hip uses.
Here, we describe their findings on the medicinal benefits of rose hip for various health issues.
1. Gastrointestinal system
Several studies have investigated the use of rose hip for gastrointestinal issues. Some have shown that rose hip is an effective treatment for ulcers, and are more beneficial than currently available medications. Carotenoids, a plant chemical found in rose species and other plants, have also demonstrated benefits for peptic ulcer disease, inflammatory diseases, and bacterial infections such as H. pylori infection. However, not all studies have confirmed the effectiveness of rosehip to treat ulcers.
2. Liver and kidney
Some studies have found that rosehip might help prevent liver damage, especially after liver toxicity. These benefits are likely attributed to the antioxidant properties of rose hip, which help balance antioxidant defences and production of free radicals (cell-damaging compounds) in the body. Rose hip has also been shown to lower fasting blood sugar levels in diabetic mice and might be useful to prevent kidney stone formation and other problems related to kidney function.
3. Nervous system
Rose hip has a number of neuroprotective benefits due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. For instance, it has been shown to provide anti-Alzheimer activity and provides protective effects in conditions that affect blood circulation in the nervous system. Studies on the neuroprotective properties of rose hip are limited, and more clinical trials are needed to better understand these effects.
4. Heart and arteries
Studies have shown that rose hip can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading cause of death globally. The antioxidants, high vitamin C content, and other plant compounds found in rose hip provide anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying effects. In one study, rose hip lowered cholesterol levels and build-up of artery plaque in mice with high blood cholesterol. These benefits, along with lower blood pressure levels, were also seen in mice fed with a high-fat diet. Human studies have shown reduced markers of cardiovascular disease in obese, non-diabetic patients.
5. Skin and hair
One of the most popular rose hip uses is its application in cosmetic products such as creams and soaps. Clinical studies have shown that rose hip can significantly improve crow’s-feet wrinkles, which form around the eyes, as well as skin moisture and elasticity. Other clinical trials have demonstrated that rose hip can be used to treat skin damage and irritation after radiotherapy or surgery. Some animal studies suggest that rose hip can also prevent formation of melanoma cells, which can lead to skin cancer.
6. Joints and muscles
Multiple studies show that rose hip has benefits for arthritis and related pain. These studies have proven its usefulness for treating various forms of arthritis as well as chronic muscle and skeletal pain. Arthritic patients in these studies had lower joint inflammation and overall disease severity.
7. Anti-cancer benefits
Rose hip contains many different antioxidant compounds, some of which have been studied for their anti-cancer properties. Specifically, rose hip has been shown to prevent tumour cell growth in colon, breast, lung, cervical, and primary liver cancers. In addition, treatment with rose hip caused no toxicity in healthy liver cells.
8. Antioxidant properties
A number of compounds found in rose hip contribute to its antioxidant effects, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids. These and other molecules help to protect against damage caused by free radicals in the body.
9. Treating obesity
The results from some preclinical studies revealed that rose hip powders and extracts can limit weight gain. These extracts substantially lowered abdominal fat in mice, without affecting the amount of food eaten. Certain compounds in rose hip can also prevent spikes in blood sugar and other cardiovascular risks of obesity such as high cholesterol levels. Numerous studies have suggested using rose hip to develop anti-obesity drugs.
10. Anti-inflammatory activity
Rose hip extract can also help reduce inflammation. The mechanism behind its anti-inflammatory properties are still not clear, but multiple preclinical studies showed that rose hip can lower markers of inflammation in the body. More clinical studies are needed to explain the anti-inflammatory activity of rose hip.
Overall, the review paper identified approximately 129 different compounds from rosehip. Many of these compounds were shown to have medicinal value and therapeutic potential. This paper confirms some traditional rose hip uses, and further studies are needed to evaluate the medicinal value of rose hip for human disorders and diseases.
Written by Braydon Black, BSc
- Ayati Z, Amiri MS, Ramezani M, Delshad E, Sahebkar A, Emami SA. Phytochemistry, traditional uses and pharmacological profile of rose hip: a review. Curr Pharm Des. 2018 Oct;24:1-24.
- Ahmad N, Anwar F, Gilani A. Rose hip (Rose canina ) oils. In:Preedy VR, editor. Essential oils in food preservation, flavor and safety. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Inc.; 2016. p. 667-75.
- World Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) [Internet]. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2017 May 17 [cited 2019 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)