Rosehips (Rosa spp.) a winter berry for resilience, vitamin C support, supporting immune functions, colds, flu, sore throats, coughs and elimination. These hips are packed with rich nourishment for our body and skin.
Candice Brunlinger; Herbalist & Holistic Health Consultant
The rose plant has been praised for hundreds of years throughout the world for their beauty, aroma and numerous healing benefits. Many folks, especially gardeners, are familiar with and have a love for the rose flowers and petals; however, the nourishing benefits of rosehip fruits are often underrated or even unknown.
If you leave the flowers on the medicinal or wild rose bush and wait until they die back, you will start to see hip berries forming which turn from green to yellow to orange in the fall months and then becomes a bright red color once the weather starts to cool into the transition of winter.
After the first frost they are considered to be fully ripe and ready to harvest. Cut them in half and scoop out the irritating hairs and seeds from inside. It can be easier and less messy to freeze the hips after cutting them in half and then scoop out the hair/seeds. You can use the hips fresh or dry them to use throughout the year. If you do use rosehips which are cultivated, make sure they are organically grown as roses tend to be heavily sprayed with harmful chemicals.
Rosehips are most known for their very high vitamin C content, their benefits for the immune system and to treat respiratory ailments, sore throats, colds and flu. They have a mild laxative effect especially with larger doses. It is believed that a cup of rosehip tea contains as much vitamin C as up to 6 oranges. [i] Studies show that when compared to oranges, rosehips contain up to 25 percent more iron, 20 times more Vitamin C, 25 times the Vitamin A, and 28 percent more calcium. In addition, rosehips are a rich source of bioflavanoids, pectin, Vitamin E and K, selenium, manganese, the B-complex vitamins and contain many trace minerals. [ii] [iii]
The high quantities of vitamin A and C are very nourishing to the skin when consumed regularly. Those nourishing benefits in addition to the immune stimulating properties help aid with skin infections and various skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema. The cold pressed rosehip seed oil is prized and commonly used in facial and eye creams and general bath and body products.
Rosehips have a sour and astringent flavor to them and are often associated as having a tart flavor similar to cranberries but are milder. They are often combined with other sweet tasting herbs or fruits to mellow out their sour nature. They are great in tea infusions, especially as a cold infusion or sun tea. The tea makes a great remedy for sore throats especially when mixed with a little honey.
Rosehips are frequently used in European and Scandinavian cuisine to make syrups, jams, jelly, candies, wines, soup, fruit drinks and fruit based baking. [iv] My personal favorite way to use rosehips is as a jam, jelly or syrup along with other berries and chai-like spices. Click on the following links for recipes and instructions on how to make your own.
Elderberry-Rosehip Syrup & Jelly
Native Americans have been using rosehips as tea for thousands of years, and when the tea is finished, the hips were added to stews or soups. There was just too much nutrition in a rosehip to let it go to waste. Native Americans also believed rosehips brought good luck, and called in good spirits. [v]
The magical and folklore uses of rosehips vary including being used to attract love, romance, peace, healing, abundance, wealth and protection. “The belly-shaped fruit, packed with seeds, is a symbol of prosperity and fertility. The fruits placed beneath the pillow protect the sleeper against nightmares and nasty spirits that seek to disturb the nightly peace.” [vi] In order to receive these benefits, you can drink or eat them, carry them in a sachet bag or my favorite is to wear the hips strung on a necklace or bracelet.
“Nature is a good teacher; he who can read the nature well, he can learn sagacious things belong to life from it. Once you stepped in the nature, your philosophical education starts. A black vulture teaches you many things; a bear teaches you many things; a bird making its nest and a rosehip which resists being frozen, they teach you many things!”
~ Mehmet Murat Ildan
[i] Mother Earth News – “Rosehips: An Unexpected Source of Vitamin C”; Jan/Feb 1981 http://www.motherearthnews.com/Natural-Health/Rose-Hips-Vitamins-zmaz81jfzkin.aspx
[ii] Backwoods Home Magazine – Gather Rosehips for Health by Gail Butler; September/October 2005; Issue #95 http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/butler95.html
[iii] The New Age Herbalist by Richard Mabey; page 164; Copyright 1988
[iv] Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs; Page 423; Copyright 1998