organic rosehip tea in a glass mug on a wooden table

Rosehip – What’s the Deal?

organic rosehip tea in a glass mug on a wooden table

Rosa species — also called rose hips — are wild plants traditionally used to treat a wide variety of conditions. The name might be a little misleading or confusing. Rose oil is extracted from rose petals. Rosehip oil, on the other hand, is pressed from the fruit and seeds of the rose plant.

What’s the Difference Between Rose Hips and Rosehip Oil?

Manufacturers use dried rose hips and seeds to make rose hip powder and capsules. Rosehip oil is pressed from the fruit and seeds of the rose plant. “Rose hips” as a supplement will be two words. “Rosehip” as in rosehip oil is only one word.

Rose Hips and Vitamin C

As a plant, rose hips are rich in nutrients. The starring role among them is vitamin C. This water-soluble vitamin can lower inflammation, support immune function, and works as a powerful antioxidant. However, much of the vitamin C gets destroyed when the rose hip plant becomes dried and processed. Storage can further lower vitamin C levels. Rose hips contain other important dietary antioxidants besides vitamin C. They include:

  • Carotenoids such as lycopene and beta-carotene
  • Tocopherols (vitamin E)
  • Flavonoids such as quercitrin
  • Essential fatty acids — mainly linoleic and α-linolenic acids

Altogether, the vitamin C and other nutrients in rose hips provide powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory benefits for your gut, skin, and much more.

The Benefits of Rose Hips Extract for Overall Health

You can find rose hips extract — more commonly labelled “rose hips” — in powder or capsule form. Perhaps the most famed benefit of rose hips as an oral supplement is pain relief from osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions your bones wears down, creating damage to joints.

A meta-analysis of three trials found that compared to a placebo, rose hips could relieve pain and reduce the need for other pain medications. In fact, rose hips could decrease inflammation very similarly to anti-inflammatory medications. Worth noting: These studies were small (around 100 patients each), short term (each less than three months), and funded by the rose hips manufacturer.

Inflammation, Metabolic Issues, & Blood Pressure: How Rose Hips Could Help

Rose hips extract might also help other inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, without the potential side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.  

For centuries, people have also used rose hips for gastrointestinal problems including stomach spasms, stomach acid deficiency, stomach irritation, diarrhea, constipation, and as a “stomach tonic” for gut diseases. Rose hips might also reduce ulcers. By modifying your stomach’s pH balance, this supplement can reduce the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) that can create ulcers.

You might even use rose hips extract to manage blood sugar and metabolic issues. In one study, 31 obese individuals with normal or impaired glucose tolerance used either a rose hips powder drink or placebo for six weeks. The powder didn’t do anything for weight loss or inflammatory markers, but it did significantly reduce systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and LDL/HDL ratio. Lowering these markers also reduce your risk of heart disease.

Animal studies also found a daily drink with about 40 grams of rose hips powder can lower blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, and even your weight. Other potential benefits of rose hips extract include providing relief of back pain, gallstones, gout, and urinary tract infections, immune system support, promote circulation, and prevent heart disease. Some of these claims are folklore and don’t carry much (if any) scientific support.

How to Supplement with Rose Hips

While you can find rose hips in capsules, you might also prepare it as a tea. To make rose hip tea, add 2 to 2.5 grams of rose hips powder in about five ounces of boiling water and drink. Rose hips extract might be worth trying for any of these conditions. A few caveats about supplements. While generally safe, they can create side effects for some people including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, and headaches. Rose hips supplements might also interfere with certain medications.

While labels might claim rose hips supplements contain vitamin C, much of that vitamin C has been added rather than naturally occurring from rose hips. Rose hips contain rugosin E, which could cause blood clots. If you’ve had a heart attack, stroke, or any blood clot-related condition, talk with your healthcare practitioner before using rosehip supplements.

Rosehip Oil Benefits

Rosehip oil makes an excellent addition to your skincare routine, whether you want to fight the effects of aging on your skin, clear up scarring, or just have more vibrant skin.

Rosehip oil, extracted from seeds of rose hip, provides essential fatty acids, tocopherols (vitamin E), and carotenoids. These fatty acids and antioxidants protect against the inflammation and free-radical induced oxidative stress that can damage healthy skin. Those nutrients can hydrate, moisturize, and exfoliate your face for smooth, vibrant skin. Rosehip oil also works as a “carrier oil” for the essential oils too strong to put directly on your skin. Applied to your skin, rosehip oil provides anti-inflammatory, immune-supporting, and collagen-supporting benefits while protecting against sun damage.  

Rosehip oil can also benefit skin disorders including eczema. The nutrient content in rosehip oil — especially vitamin C, vitamin A, and essential fatty acids — can reduce acne-related inflammation and acne scars. Rosehip oil might also work with non-inflammatory acne or clogged pores.

Rosehip oil can even significantly improve wound healing and scars. One study found that a moisturizer with rosehip oil and vitamin E helped prevent stretch marks and reduce the severity of existing ones during pregnancy compared with a placebo.

How to Use Rosehip Oil for Your Skin

Just like with rose hips extract, processing destroys most of rosehip oil’s vitamin C content. Many products add synthetic vitamin C to compensate. If you’re considering rosehip oil for your skin, try a patch test on your forearm or wrist, especially if you have sensitive skin. Wait 24 hours before you fully apply the oil to see how you react. Whether you opt for rose hip extracts or rosehip oil, choose quality supplements. The oil can go rancid quickly, so store in a cool, dark place or your fridge. The best rosehip oil for your face and skin is cold-pressed, organic rosehip oil. You can buy rosehip oil at most health food stores and even many grocery stores — just make sure you get pure, organic rosehip oil.

While less convenient, you can also use fresh rose hips instead of powders or capsules. They are completely edible and preserve the rose hips’ natural vitamin C that processing can destroy.

organic rosehip tea in a glass mug on a wooden table

Dr. B.J. Hardick

About Dr. B.J. Hardick

Raised in a holistic family, Dr. B.J. Hardick is a Doctor of Chiropractic, organic foodie and fanatic for green living and earthly sustainability. He has spent the majority of his life working in natural health care. In 2009, he authored his first book, Maximized Living Nutrition Plans. In 2018, he authored his second book, Align Your Health. An energizing and passionate speaker, Dr. Hardick shares his lifestyle methods to numerous professional and public audiences every year in the United States and Canada. He is known for his articles, recipes and contributions on MindBodyGreen.com, FoodMatters.com, MaxLiving.com, and his own site, DrHardick.com. In his spare time, he invests his keen interest in sustainable living into urban development in his hometown of London, Ontario. Learn More