The Vitamin C flower
The most common rose used medicinally is the Rosa Canina, also known as the Dog Rose, or Wild Rose.
Other species are also used medicinally, especially those classified as Hybrid Perpetuals. The following varieties are the most commonly used:
• Rosa californica – Californian Rose
• Rosa centiofolia – Cabbage Rose, Hundred-leaved Rose
• Rosa damascena – Bulgarian Rose, Damask Rose, Moroccan Rose
• Rosa egalanteria – Egalantine, Sweetbriar
• Rosa gallica – French Rose, Provence Rose
• Rosa laevigata – Cherokee Rose
• Rosa roxburghii – Roxburgh Rose
During World War II when imports of citrus products were limited, rose hips became especially popular in Great Britain. Volunteers spent many hours gathering hips from hedge rows for making rose hip syrup for the Ministry of Health to distribute.
At that time, there were plenty of recipes around for eating the actual berries as “dinner vegetables” and as various kinds of preserves and jams. However, they have gone out of fashion now, and most people buy processed ascorbic acid as an inadequate source of vitamin C to meet the so-called “minimum daily requirement.”
Native American women not only brewed rose hip tea, but they used the pre-boiled rose hips in soups and stews. The tea “leftovers” (the berries expand a lot) are a good dinner vegetable with butter and salt. There is still a lot of remaining food value in the cooked berries.
I adore roses. When I lived in Israel an old man down the street had the most magnificent roses. I used to lean on his iron gate and breath in the scent of his garden and repeat my thanks to him for tending such beautiful roses. Every color, every shape, wild and cultured, by the road, in a garden… that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…
And when the rose has faded, and every brightly colored petal fallen to the ground, the most wonderful part of the rose is finally ready to be of use. The bright little berry, wearing a gnarly dried crown, is an amazing natural source of vitamin C!
About Rose Hips
Rose hips are the ripe, fresh or dried seed receptacle of Rosa Canina (Dog Rose), one of the most familiar flowers in the world.
This round fruit of the rose, usually red in color, is seldom allowed to develop on our modern display roses. However, the prolific old-fashioned shrub types, such as the rugosas, bear rose hips abundantly. These roses, blossoming on thorny briar tangles, flower through June and begin to set their haws, hips or berries, which are red and ripe, by early fall.
Uses and Actions of Rose Hips
Our bodies are unable to produce vitamin C, and so it must be replenished each day through diet. It has been proven that rose hips are a superb source of vitamin C, having a much higher content than citrus fruit. Vitamin C is watersoluble and no harm is done by “overdosing”. In fact, a few doctors use mega doses of vitamin C intravenously to treat severe illness, decrease the effects of aging, and to purify the blood. Vitamin C deficiency may result in fatigue and weakness, swollen gums, nosebleeds, irritability and depression.
Along with being high in vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Rose hips also have some beta carotene (plant precursor to Vitamin A), bioflavinoids, and considerable pectin (a soluble form of fiber) which helps to prevent intestinal cancers.
Rose Hips contain: calcium, citrates, citric acid, iron malates, malic acid, niacin, organic acid, pectin, phosphorus, resin, salts, sugar, tannin, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, K, P (bioflavonoids), and wax.
• aperient (a mild stimulant producing a natural movement of the bowels; a gentle purgative)
• astringent (a binding agent that contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges of mucous and fluid from the body)
• diuretic (an agent that increases the volume and flow of urine which cleanses the urinary system)
• pectoral (remedy for pulmonary or other lung and chest diseases)
• nutrient (gives nourishment)
• refrigerant (an agent that lowers abnormal body heat, relieves thirst and gives a feeling of coolness)
• tonic (an agent that tones, strengthens and invigorates organs)
• Blood Conditions: blood purifier, hemorrhaging.
• Female Conditions: excessive menstruation, uterine cramps.
• Gastrointestinal Conditions: diarrhea, dysentery, stomach disorders.
• Respiratory Conditions: lower respiratory infections, common colds, coughs, flu.
• Urinary Tract Conditions: cleanses the kidneys and bladder, eliminates uric acid accumulations, helping with gout and rheumatic complaints, fluid retention.
How To Use Rose Hips:
Rose hips have a tangy, yet sweet, flavor and can be used fresh, dried, or preserved. The simplest use is to steep them for tea. Rose hip syrup, puree, jam, jelly, and sauce can be used as is or as a flavoring in other recipes.
Harvest rose hips in the Fall, after the first frost, when the berries are red and a little softened. To keep them, simply clean off the dried brown leaves and hair-like bristles near the top, wash, and cut in half (optional). Never use aluminum utensils or pans as they tend to destroy the vitamin C. Lay the halved berries in the sun or in a dehydrator until dry. Store in an airtight glass container out of direct sunlight. If you prefer to use them fresh, simply clean and store in a zip-lock bag in the fridge until you need them, or up to two weeks.
Dried rose hips need to be boiled about 10-15 minutes to make a tea of them; just pouring hot water over them results in a fairly tasteless brew. Use 2 tablespoons of dried rose hips per pint of water, boil covered. The hips must expand, split (if whole), and let the water get at the soft seeds within. The hot tea is acid-tasting, but not as sharp as lemon juice. Most people prefer to drink the tea sweetened. A half-teaspoon of dried mint may be added to give it a different flavor. Add honey to taste.
Lassi (pronounced luh-see) is often served as the beverage of choice with an East Indian lunch because of its ability to enhance digestion. It is a sweet, flavored, milk type of drink. Lassi is best made fresh right before your meal. One popular recipe includes rose hips.
Rose hips Lassi
• 1/3 cup fresh homemade yogurt
• 1 cup pure water
• Raw sugar, honey, or sucanat to taste
• 3-4 fresh whole rose hips
• 1 pinch ground cardamom
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain and enjoy. 1 serving.
Follow the tincture making directions on the
Bulk Herb Store website to make a rose hip tincture.
WARNING: YOU MUST NEVER USE THE HIPS OF ANY ROSE BUSH TREATED WITH A PESTICIDE.
Vitamin C, if taken in large doses without a gradual build up, may cause diarrhea. Also, suddenly ceasing to take Vitamin C, after taking it in large doses, may cause diarrhea. To take large doses of C, begin with 500mg, increasing slowly in order to allow the body to adjust. To come off of large doses, also decrease vitamin C intake somewhat gradually.
Hip Rose Hip Quiz:
- What is the name of the most commonly used medicinal rose?
- Name three other types of roses used for medicinal purposes.
- What were rosehips used for during WWII?
- Can rosehips be eaten as a food?
- List two symptoms that may occur because of a Vitamin C deficiency.
- Is it possible to overdose on vitamin C?
- What symptom may occur if a large amount of vitamin C is ingested suddenly?
- When can rosehips be harvested?
- Name three illnesses that rosehips can be used to treat.
- Write a short story of how you could use rose hips to benefit your family.
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