Rose hip is a supplement taking for joint health and to help relieve symptoms of certain forms of arthritis such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Early evidence also suggests rose hip may help treat diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Rose hip supplements are made from the extracts of the fruit of the Rosa canina or the dog rose, a type of rose bush.
Rose hip contains various bioactives which contribute to its efficacy, including polyphenolic compounds, triterpenoids and galactolipids — compounds widely found in plants, which are an important part of the cell membranes (1).
The vitamin C content of fresh rose hips is higher than that found in citrus fruits. However, vitamin C and many of the other nutrients found in rose hip can be depleted or destroyed during processing; the content of phytochemicals has also been shown to be sensitive to drying time, drying air temperature and moisture content (2).
A research team from the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, has developed a patented process that preserves the nutrient content.
Rose hip reduces symptoms of knee and hip osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis that occurs when the protective cartilage located between the joints wears down. Symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness (3).
Ninety-four patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee were enrolled in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover trial. Forty-seven patients were given 5g of powder made from seeds and shells of rose hip daily for a period of three months and the remaining patients were given a placebo.
Several notable benefits were reported after three weeks and at the three month mark of supplementation. After three weeks of treatment, rose hip resulted in a significant reduction in pain as compared to placebo. The consumption of ‘rescue medication’ (fast-acting medication) significantly declined as a result of treatment.
Disability, stiffness and global assessment of severity of the disease were not altered by three weeks, but decreased significantly after three months of treatment (4).
In another study involving 112 patients with osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, hand, shoulder or neck, researchers found that patients who received 5g a day of standardized rose hip powder for three months experienced several improvements. Such improvements included significant reductions in pain and stiffness, along with improvements in mood, well-being and sleep quality (5).
Rose hip may help treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. Inflammation occurs as a result, and causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints to thicken, leading to swelling and pain in and around the joints (6).
According to a 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Phytomedicine, supplementation with 5g daily of rose hip powder can alleviate symptoms of this condition.
Researchers made their assessments based on several questionnaires including HAQ-DI (a disability assessment of a patient’s level of functional ability such as activities that involve both upper and lower extremities) and DAS-28 (stands for ‘disease activity score’ and the number 28 refers to the 28 joints that are examined in the assessment).
In another study, 0.5g of rose hip powder taken daily for 28 days, failed to improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis or laboratory studies (red blood cell antioxidant enzymes or C-reactive protein).
Further research into rose hip’s efficacy in treating this type of arthritis is necessary.
In a randomized study with a control group in people with reported walking problems due to knee pain (underlying cause of knee pain was not disclosed), 2.25 g of rose hip powder improved walking measurements and improved knee flexion (9).
This is only limited evidence; more studies are needed.
Rose hip may help lower elevated blood pressure. A recent study was performed to investigate whether daily intake of 40g rose hip powder over six weeks exerts beneficial metabolic effects in obese individuals.
According to the results published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in comparison with the control drink, daily consumption of the rose hip drink resulted in a significant reduction of systolic blood pressure. There was also a reduction in total plasma cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
Diastolic blood pressure did not, however, differ between the two groups (10).
Systolic blood pressure (top number) indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
Diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats (11).
Rose hip helps reduce wrinkles. In a double-blinded study, rose hip showed statistically significant improvements in crow’s-feet wrinkles, skin moisture and elasticity after eight weeks of treatment. Rose hip powder made from seeds and shells was used in the study.
The apparent stabilizing effects of the rose hip product on cell membranes may contribute to improving cell longevity and impeding skin aging (12).
Rose hip was comparable to Astaxanthin, a supplement shown in clinical studies to inhibit age-related skin deterioration and maintain skin conditions (13).
There do not appear to be any side effects when rose hip is used in moderation. In a study of people with osteoarthritis, daily supplementation of up to 5,000mg for three months did not result in side effects.
When supplemented at higher doses, however, rose hip has been shown to produce gastrointestinal side effects, including diarrhea, loose stools and persistent constipation.
For the treatment of osteoarthritis, some studies have shown that 2.5 grams of rose hip powder taken twice daily for three months is effective. It is important to note that many of these studies have been short –term studies.
Further research is needed to determine the most efficacious dosage.
Rose hip is a supplement taken for the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and joint health. Preliminary evidence shows its potential to lower high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.
It is also being studied for its ability to improve age-related skin conditions, such as wrinkles, loss of skin moisture and elasticity.
Supplementation does not appear to cause side effects when taken in moderation. Higher doses have been linked to diarrhea, loose stools and persistent constipation.