Medicinal Plants- Rose Hips
Native to Asia, Europe, and northern Africa, the dog rose is the main source of rose hips. Growing up to ten feet tall, the dog rose, when in bloom boasts aromatic flowers ranging in color from dark pink to white. The shrub's stems belie their beauty, as they are covered with sharp, pin like prickles. These prickles are shaped like small hooks and allow the shrub to grab onto things as it rises to its full height. Nature's trellis, beautiful to look at, but be careful when you touch!
The rose hips themselves emerge during the autumn months, replacing faded blooms and fallen petals. The fruits are then harvested, mashed into an antioxidant rich pulp and may be eaten raw or cooked. Pleasant to the palate, albeit slightly sour in taste (similar to cranberries), rose hips are essential ingredients in the preparation of teas, extracts, marmalade, preserves, and purees. Dried rose hips are also used for a variety of things including medicinal purposes.
Historically, rose hips were and continue to be essential ingredients in hand creams, perfumes, and cosmetics. Aromatherapy favorite, rose oil is said to contain properties that alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Medieval manuscripts lauded the fruit for its ability to "strengthen the heart and taketh away the shaking and trembling thereof." Although this statement would be debatable, it is inarguable that rose hips do contain valuable, health promoting properties.
High in Vitamin C, rose hips are often recommended for strengthening the immune system. They are also one of the best sources for natural iron, calcium, biotin, pectin, phosphorus, tannin and Vitamins A B1, B2, C, E K and P. During WWII, volunteers harvested rose hips from the wild in order to make rose hip syrup, which was then given to the country's citizens to supplement their Vitamin C intake. The syrup, which was distributed by the Ministry of Health, was an answer to the limited importations of citrus suffered during wartime (rose hips contain 20 times more Vitamin C than oranges). Other concoctions, like marmalade and jams were regularly prepared and sent to the soldiers at the front.
A natural diuretic, blood purifier, and astringent, rose hips contain many properties that may aid people with bladder control and kidney disease. Naturally occurring acids and pectin may also be useful in promoting regularity in bowel movements and to purge the body of fluids and mucous. The antibiotic properties of rose hips are said to help fight both respiratory and bladder infections, not to mention its use as an anti-inflammatory.
Rose hip pulp can be prepared and eaten alone or added to other mixtures. A mere tablespoon of pulp is sufficient to meet the recommended dose of Vitamin C for adults. Raw pulp can be easily prepared using a food processor and sieve. The fresh uncooked fruit can then be used to make jelly or simply eaten raw. Cooked pulp requires steeping fresh fruits in water overnight. Upon wakening, the untouched pot would be put on the stove to simmer for at least an hour and then strained. Cooked pulp is delicious on its own, but it's also a delectable addition to other sauces (try it in applesauce).
Dried rose hips can be used in a number of recipes, the most common of which would be tea. Steep an equal mixture of dried, crushed rose hips and water for a minimum of ten minutes and strain (the longer you steep; the richer the flavor). If you dread the preparation, simply pick up a box of commercial rose hip tea at the store.
Rose hip syrup preparation requires a few additional ingredients and added steps. Fill a carafe with seven ounces of dried rose hips, one half cup of sugar, and one and a quarter cups of 100 proof alcohol; then allow the mixture to sit for four weeks. After waiting the allotted four weeks, strain the mixture and dilute with three quarters cup of water. Use the syrup as needed for coughs and colds or as an after dinner liqueur. Note that the ingredients make this an adult only beverage.
This last recipe is also an "adults only" beverage. Lovely in color and extremely beneficial to ones health, rose hip wine can be made from scratch (this would require at least two years of aging in the bottle) or by using the following less detailed form of preparation. Begin by removing the seeds of least seven ounces of dried rose hips that will then be steeped in two quarts of your favorite dry red wine. Leave the mixture set for two weeks, strain, chill, and enjoy. It doesn't get easier than this, and it is delicious!
Since the earliest times people have experimented, studied, and chronicled the benefits of plant life. Rose hips were used by the Egyptians in oils and cosmetics, the ancient Greeks believed the plant's roots could cure someone bitten by a rabid dog, and children behaved badly by gathering the inner prickly hairs to use as itching powder. Nonetheless, certain benefits of the rose hips have withstood time.
© 2014 Awdur
The Complete Guide to Natural Healing, International Masters Publishers, @MCMXCIX