Posted by: Glow-worm PJ26 SEP 2008
Its sweetly scented pink or white flowers are borne in June and July, and are succeeded by the familiar scarlet fruit, or hips, from August to November, providing a food source for a variety of birds and animals.
Weight for weight, rosehip shells contain 20 times as much vitamin C as oranges and, in 1941, the Ministry of Health organised a scheme in which thousands of volunteers, including schoolchildren, collected hundreds of tons of rosehips to supplement wartime diets, after being made into a syrup, a form familiar to generations of children.
Rosehip shells were long official in the British Pharmacopoeia for their astringent and refrigerant properties, but they have been mainly used for their taste and as a valuable source of nutrients. Rosehips also contain many other flavonoid-type antioxidants such as anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins.
Dried, the astringent leaves have been used as a tea substitute, as well as being applied externally as a poultice to aid wound healing.
The silky down that fills the spaces between the seeds and the seed case is a gastric irritant. In France and Eastern Europe it has been used as a worm treatment in a jam made from the whole rosehip. The action is mechanical, making removal of the worms during a bowel movement more likely, with the treatment being repeated several times over a period of a few weeks.
Recent research in Denmark and Germany has suggested that rosehips may offer an effective treatment for both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis. In one six-month study a group of patients suffering severe rheumatoid arthritis showed significant improvement after taking a supplement containing dried rosehip powder.
A key ingredient in the rosehip powder has now been isolated and patented under the trade name Gopo. It was hailed by scientists involved in the research as a “plant version of fish oil”. It is a galactolipid complex containing glycosides of mono- and diacylglycerides, and researchers believe that it may work by restricting the flow of white blood cells into the joint space and joint tissue, which would otherwise contribute to further deterioration of joint health. The extract appears to have few side effects, an important consideration in the treatment of arthritis, since conventional treatments can have severe effects, particularly upon the alimentary canal. Further research is needed to confirm the early promising results.