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The seeded fruit, hips, of the rose plant have a long history of being used as medicine. However, most domestic plants do not produce the fruit. Species that are commonly used for the preparation of hips include Rosa canina, Rosa acicularis, Rosa rugosa and Rosa cinnamomea. The small, oval-shaped fruits are normally red in color and have a tart, yet sweet taste. For medicinal uses, rose hips are usually made into a tea.
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Fresh hips are an excellent source of vitamin C. In fact, during World War II, they were used as a supplement in Great Britain when citrus fruits were limited. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and plays an important role in keeping the immune system strong, as well as having many other functions in the body. These fruits are also a good source of vitamins A, E and K. Vitamin A is necessary for vision in dim light, new cell growth and healthy skin and hair. Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant and vitamin K is needed for synthesis of proteins and normal blood clotting.
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This herb is commonly used to treat the common cold, primarily because of its high content of vitamin C. Another use, although more research is needed, is relieving symptoms associated with osteoarthritis such as stiffness, pain and reduced mobility. According to research in Denmark, people with osteoarthritis who took rose hip had a significant reduction in symptoms and were able to decrease the amount of medications they took.
This herb may also help protect against cardiovascular disease. In clinical trials, it was shown to reduce C-reactive protein levels (a byproduct of inflammation). It is suggested that elevated levels of C-reactive protein can increase one's risk of cardiovascular disease. Other medicinal uses of rose hips include treating stomach spasms, diarrhea, constipation, kidney and lower urinary tract disorders, fluid retention and fever.
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Side Effects and Precautions
Although generally considered safe, possible side effects include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, headache, fatigue and insomnia. Some people have been known to have an allergic reaction when inhaling the herb's dust.
There is not enough information regarding the safety of use during pregnancy and breastfeeding so it is best to avoid during these times.
If you have a medical condition or are taking medications, consult your health care provider before taking.
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How to Make Rose Hip Tea
You can buy tea bags or you can prepare a cup of tea using fresh or dried rose hips. Fresh has the highest vitamin C content.
Fresh: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 tablespoons of clean hips and steep for 10 minutes.
Dried: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of hips and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
To enhance its flavor, you can blend it with some hibiscus flowers, which also have medicinal benefits like lowering blood pressure.
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