Vitamin Expert

Rose Hip Facts

Latin name: Rosa canina

Pharmacopoeial name: Rosae pseudofructus

About Rose Hip

The rose hip (or rose haw) is the pseudofruit of the rose plant. Rose hips of some species, especially Rosa canina, are known as valuable sources of vitamin C. In 1990, the German Commission E published three monographs on the traditional use of various species of the rose hip (the ripe, fresh or dried seed receptacle, freed from seed and attached trichomes), rose hip and seed (Rosae pseudofructus cum fructibus, the ripe, fresh or dried pseudofruits including the seed) and rose hip seed (Rosae fructus, the ripe, dried seed) (1).
In traditional medicine, 2–5 g of the plant material is used to prepare an aqueous extract, e.g. for a cup of tea, taken 3 to 4 cups per day. The vitamin C content decreases considerably within 24 h (2). However, in a maceration the vitamin C content increased within 48 h (3). Dried rose hips contained more folate per 100 g than fresh rose hip.

Uses of Rose Hip

Antioxidant activity.

Gao et al investigated a crude extract prepared with 50% ethanol from powdered rose hip and its phenolic, ascorbinic and lipophilic fractions (4). The phenolic fraction made a major contribution to the antioxidative activity. However, the lipophilic component was the most effective when the results were compared based on the relation between total antioxidant capacity and the content of antioxidants. A preparation of a rose hip extract deprived of vitamin C, contained mainly phenolics (proanthocyanidins 132 mg%, flavonoids 15 mg%, no vitamin C) and inhibited oxygen radicals in both cell-free and cellular systems (5). In an earlier study from Russia, an anthocyanin derivative, pelargonidin-3,5-diglucoside prepared from Rosa canina, had a pronounced radio-protective effect in the absence of toxic effects (6).

Some authors have suggested that rose hip and L. plantarum should be used as a pre-treatment to tissue injuries, e.g. colon surgery, organ transplantation and vascular surgery (7).

Anti-inflammatory activity.

Two types of rose hip and seed extracts (solvents water and ethanol 80%) were screened for antiinflammatory activity. The ethanol extract showed a greater inhibitory effect compared with the aqueous extract (8), indicating that the antiinflammatory principal is probably lipophilic.

45 g of rose hip and seed powder over 28 days inhibited chemotaxis of isolated polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) ex- vivo/in vitro (9). In a cross-over human pharmacological study, in which the volunteers first received 45 g rose hip and seed powder over 28 days and thereafter 10 g powder per day, it was shown that the antiinflammatory effect in terms of ex vivo/in vitro chemotaxis of PMN was dose-dependent (10). Moreover, C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) as well as creatinine values decreased significantly. After stopping the intake of the powder, these values increased to the pre-values again.

Body Fat, Plasma And Biliary Lipids.

An extract from rose hip and seed (50 mg/kg) or seed (12.5 and 25 mg/kg) were found to show substantial inhibitory effect on the gain of body weight and/or weight of visceral fat without affecting food intake in mice (11).

Gonzalez et al, examined the effect of a diet with corn oil or rose hip oil or without any oil (control) over 35 days. Plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were significantly lower after the rose hip oil diet than in the control group (12).

Gastrointestinal effects.

22 healthy volunteers received a proprietary rose hip drink over 3 weeks and another 26 volunteers, a rose hip drink containing oats fermented with Lactobacillus plantarum. In both groups, the numbers of faecal bifido- bacteria and lactobacilli were significantly increased. No changes were seen in the numbers of anaerobes, Gram-negative anaerobes or total aerobes during administration. During the period of intake, the volunteers receiving the fermented drink experienced a significant increase in stool volume and a significant decrease in flatulence and slightly softer stools, whereas the stool volume was slightly decreased during the in- take of proprietary rose hip drink (13).

A rose hip preparation was investigated in a randomized double-blind study of 60 patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. They started to record their intestinal complaints 2 weeks before the administration of the products by means of a questionnaire. Patients receiving the proprietary rose hip drink as placebo profited less than those receiving additional Lactobacillus plantarum 9843, but abdominal pain was reduced in both groups (14).


A systematic review (15) that had identified four studies investigating a proprietary rosehip extractt in patients suffering from osteoarthritic complaints (16-19) discovered that 2 of them were subgroup analyses (18,19). However, a later systematic review (20) on the effectiveness of Rosa canina in osteoarthritis also included the subgroup analyses, as did another, more recent systematic review which presented a meta-analysis with all four studies. Hence, these latest reviews favoured the effectiveness of rosehip extract (21).

Recently exploratory studies were carried out in patients suffering from inflammatory rheumatic complaints (22) and chronic low back pain (23). Although evidence of the effectiveness is only moderate for osteoarthritis and less than moderate for rheumatoid arthritis and chronic low back pain, it appears that rosehip extract does demonstrate overall anti-inflammatory and analgesic potential..


The topical use of rose hip seed oil in eczema, trophic ulcers of the skin, neurodermitis, cheilitis etc may also be promising, as observed in an exploratory study including 75 patients testing topical rose hip seed oil together with an oral polyvitamin preparation of fat-soluble vitamins (24).


Contact allergy to rose oil of other species, e.g. the flower petals of Rosa damascena, has been observed (25) and might therefore also be possible with topical use of Rosa canina oil

Keywords: Rose hip extract; antioxidant; antinflammatory; body fat, plasma and biliary lipids; IBS; arthritis; dermatology

There is no EMEA monograph for rosehip


1. Blumenthal M. 1998. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. American Botanical Council: Austin, TX, USA, 368–369.
2. Bogdan I, Veturia N. 1994. Buletinul Universitatii de Stiinte Agricole Cluj-Napoca Seria Zootehnie si Medicina Veterinara 48: 437– 445.
3. Peplau G. 1941. Pharmakologische und klinische Untersuchungen deutscher Heilpflanzen. VI. Fructus Cynosbati-Hagebutten. Hippokrates: 921–928.
4. Gao X, Björk L, Trajkovski V, Uggla M. 2000. J Sci Food Agric 80: 2021–2027.
5. Daels-Rakotoarison DA, Gressier B, Trotin F et al. 2002. Phytother Res 16: 157–161
6. Akhmadieva AK, Zaichkina SI, Ruzieva RK, Ganassi EE. 1993. Radiobiologiia 33: 433–435.
7. Hakansson A, Stene C, Mihaescu A et al. 2006. Dig Dis Sci 51: 2094–2101.
8. Deliorman Orhan D, Harteviollu A, Küpeli E, Yesilada E. 2007. J Ethnopharmacol 112: 394–400
9. Kharazmi A, Winther K. 1999. Inflammopharmacology 7: 377–386.
10. Winther K, Rein E, Kharazmi A. 1999. Immunopharmacology 7: 63–68.
11. Ninomiya K, Matsuda H, Kubo M, Morikawa T, Nishida N, Yoshikawa M. 2007. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 17: 3059–3064.
12. Gonzales Barra I, Escobar M, Guerra MV. 1995. Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutricion 45: 290–294
13. Johansson ML, Nobaek S, Berggren A et al. 1998. Int J Food Microbiol 42: 29–38.
14. Nobaek S, Johansson ML, Molin G, Ahrne S, Jeppsson B. 2000. Am J Gastroenterol 95: 1231–1238.
15. Chrubasik C, Duke RK, Chrubasik S. 2006. Phytother Res 20: 1–3.
16. Warholm O, Skaar S, Hedman E, Molmen HM, Eik L. 2003. Curr Ther Res 64: 21–31.
17. Rein E, Kharazmi A, Thamsborg G, Winther K. 2004a. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 12 (Suppl 2): 80.
18. Rein E, Kharazmi A, Winther K. 2004b. Phytomedicine 11: 383–391
19. Winther K, Apel K, Thamsborg G. 2005. Scand J Rheumatol 34: 302–308.
20. Rossnagel K, Roll S, Wagner A et al. 2007a. Ann Rheum Dis 66 (Suppl 2): 603.
21. Christensen R, Sorensen LB, Bartels EM, Astrup A, Bliddal H. 2007.Ann Rheum Dis 66 (Suppl 2): 495.
22. Chrubasik C, Wiesner L, Black A, Müller-Ladner U, Chrubasik S. 2008. Phytother Res 22 (see Ann Rheum Dis 2007; 66 (Suppl 2) 625).
23. Rossnagel K, Roll S, Willich SN. 2007b. Münch Med Wschr 149: 51–56.
24. Shabykin GP, Godorazhi AI. 1967. Vestnik Dermatol Venerol 41: 71–73
25. Cockayne SE, Gawkrodger DJ. 1997. Contact Dermatitis 37: 3306–3307.