Now that spring is in full swing, wild roses are starting to grow just about everywhere. Roses are celebrated for their beauty, of course, and are one of the most popular flowers used to decorate gardens. But roses are also a wonderful source of nutrition. They contain a huge amount of vitamin C and other important nutrients. Especially the part of the plant called the hips. Rose hips are the tiny fruits of the rose plant that are usually an orange color.
How much vitamin C does a rose hip contain? About 2,000 mg per 100 g of the dried product, which makes it one of the richest plant sources of vitamin C. Rose hips contain 25% more vitamin C than oranges, for example.
The high nutrient content in rose hips makes them useful in the treatment of many diseases. Traditionally, native peoples used rose hips for the treatment of colds and influenza. Another herbal use for rose hips is the treatment of urinary bladder infections and of dizziness and headaches. But perhaps the biggest role rose hips can play in boosting your health is their ability to ease the symptoms of arthritis.
In a study performed at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at the Copenhagen County Hospital, Denmark, researchers tested the effectiveness of rose hips to treat arthritis. Ninety-four patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee were recruited for the placebo-controlled trial. Forty-seven of these patients were given five grams of rose-hip extract daily for a period of three months, while the remaining patients were given a similar amount of placebo. The group initially treated with placebo was then switched to rose-hip and vice versa for another three-month period. After three weeks and three months of each treatment period, pain, stiffness, disability and overall severity of the disease were scored on a questionnaire. The group treated with rose hips experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to the placebo group.
Rose hips can be used fresh or dried. You can collect rose hips yourself. If you have roses growing in your garden, take a look for any rose hips. They grow at the base of the flowers as they fade and die. Rose hips are ripe for picking in the months of September and October. To dry them, discard any that look damaged or off-color and then rinse in cold water. Pat the rose hips dry with a paper towel and spread on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. It can take a couple of weeks for these to dry. Once they are dried, they will look darker in color and be hard, and wrinkly in appearance. Pour the dried hips into jars for storage in the cupboard.