On my list of herbs that I would never want to run out of, Rose hips is one of the top ones! Rarely do I let a day pass without having at least one cup of Rose hips tea. It’s one of my favorite bedtime teas, especially. Just the amazing health benefits they offer is reason enough to enjoy them every day. But they also bring back fond memories for me, too, of wild foraging with my herbal mentor Caroline Johnson who passed away this summer. The wild roses grow abundantly on her ranch near Elk Mountain, Wyoming, up above 9,000 ft. She and I collected them after the first freeze in the fall when they were a little sweeter and snacked on them while we did our herb walks.
The fact that they’re best when harvested after the first freeze each fall is Mother Nature’s way of letting us know that they’re good for keeping us healthy during the fall and winter months. Their cold weather benefits can certainly be attributed to the fact that they’re rich in the whole food vitamin C complex and are great for the immune system. But there are so many more benefits to be had from these little seed pods of roses. Once you learn about what they can do for you, you won’t ever want to be without rose hips, either!
Whole food vitamin C complex in Rose Hips vs. ascorbic acid
Are you curious about why I say Rose hips contain “Whole food vitamin C complex” instead of just “Vitamin C”? Ascorbic acid is what people are usually referring to when they say, “Vitamin C,” and is just a small fraction of what vitamin C really is. It’s synthetically manufactured in a plant, not bioavailable to the body, and lacks all the synergists and phytonutrients necessary for it to be absorbed and utilized.
Vitamin C as nature intended it – which is the only form of vitamin C that has true health benefits – is a whole food complex made up of a small amount of naturally-occurring ascorbic acid but also minerals, bioflavonoids, co-factors,and a host of other essential components needed by the body. When we get our vitamin C from whole food sources such as rose hips, we get the whole vitamin C package and all the health benefits.  If we take ascorbic acid, the body has to rob whatever minerals it needs to try to absorb the ascorbic acid from its own tissues. This might work short term if we have a good supply of those ingredients stored away in our body, but soon those reserves will be depleted.
Health benefits of the whole food Vitamin C complex in Rose Hips
- Immune function – Helps to strengthen our immune system, a great benefit in the fall and winter months where bugs like the cold and flu are a concern
- Collagen formation – Promotes collagen formation, the stuff that holds our organs and tissues together and gives them flexibility, elasticity, resistance, and hydration. If our collagen is weak, our whole structure is weak. The parts of our body where collagen can be found are bones, tendons, ligaments, skin, cartilage, joints, structure of the eyes, liver, lungs, arteries, kidneys, and the surface of cells and hair. This emphasizes the role of the whole food vitamin C complex as an essential nutrient for reducing the effects of the aging process and helping us look young and feel great even in our older years. When the collagen in these organs and tissues becomes weak, we can experience fine or deep wrinkles, increased fatigue, muscle and joint stiffness and pain, slower wound healing, and overall lack of tone.
- Strong teeth and healthy gums – bleeding or receding gums and dental issues can be an indicator of a deficiency of vitamin C
- Bone formation and repair
- Wound repair
- Healthy hormones – vitamin C supports the health of the adrenals, pituitary, and thyroid especially.
- Greater resilience and ability to cope with stress – due to vitamin C’s ability to support healthy adrenals, the glands that are responsible for making the hormones that allow us to handle stressful situations with ease, helping us to feel strong, calm, and centered, and have a greater sense of well-being.
- Better absorption of other nutrients – vitamin C is a necessary synergist for the absorption of other vitamins and minerals, so even if we’re taking those other ones, without a healthy supply of bioavailable vitamin C, they might not be getting utilized at all.
More health benefits of Rose Hips
Rose Hips (and Rose petals) are used in herbal medicine for many other benefits, too. One of my favorite uses is for the support they can offer for emotional healing – for heartache, feelings of being unloved, nervousness, worry, panic attacks, and depression. Not surprising, they’re considered a cardiotonic which makes sense since they support so many emotional issues of the heart, too. And they can help boost digestion and be an aid for diarrhea.
How to gather and prepare Rose Hips
All roses produce rose hips. I prefer to gather them from wild roses, but garden roses can be used, too. Be sure to gather Rose hips from rose bushes that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or treated with chemical fertilizers. Rose hips are best gathered in the fall after the first freeze because they taste sweeter then.
You can do what Caroline and I used to do on our herb walks and eat them fresh. Just nibble around the little seed hairs and avoid those. But for all other uses, you’ll want to trim off the ends with the stem and the blossom, then cut them in half with a knife, scoop out the seeds, and rinse them to get all the little hairs out. Use them fresh or let them dry and store them.
Some people use a dehydrator to dry them, but if you live in a dry climate like I do, just set them out on a cookie sheet for a while, and they’ll dry. I like to set them in the sunshine with a cheesecloth over them. I believe everything just has better Chi in it when it’s been kissed by the sun.
Making herbal tea from Rose Hips
This is my favorite way to use Rose Hips. And they combine so well with other herbs, too. Experiment by throwing in a handful of one or more other herbs and adjust the quantities to taste. If you’re looking for the immune-enhancing properties of Rose Hips, try adding some elder berries and sliced astragalus root. First just add the astragalus to boiling water and let it simmer at a very gentle boil for about 20 minutes. Add the rose hips and elder berries, remove from heat, and let steep for another 10 minutes or so. Strain and serve.
Some other herbs that blend well with rose hips include hawthorn, lemon balm, bilberry, ginger, lemon peel, motherwort, dandelion leaf, meadowsweet flower, oat straw, lemon grass, hibiscus, spearmint, orange peel, rose petals, cinnamon, licorice, and marshmallow root.
So go for a walk out in nature, gather some rose hips, and try a cup of tea every day with them. You can also buy some if you prefer, but be sure to get organic. Enjoy their delicious taste and the benefits of the whole food vitamin C complex in them. And please leave me a comment below and let me know about your experiences using rose hips.
Thank you for sharing some of your time with me today. Wishing you the very best health!
Many hugs and all my love,
photos from Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay
P.S. I always include this helpful suggestion at the end of my herbal blog posts. If you’re interested in using herbs as part of your health regimen, I encourage you to make an appointment with a clinical herbalist like me and get a personalized recommendation. By having a consultation with a professional herbalist, you’ll know that you’re getting a recommendation for appropriate herbs for your needs and desired outcomes and that you’re using them in the correct dosage and preparation. This way you can be sure you’re receiving the benefits that you want from using them and save yourself a lot of money and frustration that comes from using the wrong herbal therapies.
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