Rose hips are the fruits produced by nearly 3,000 species of ornamentals that comprise the Rosaceae family, including the common rose. Traditionally, rose hips are valued for their scent and flavor, which is somewhat similar in taste to cranberries. Rose hip liquid extract is made by slow-simmering the hips in water to yield a concentrate. Since rose hips are exceptionally nutritious, there may be several benefits of adding rose hips liquid extract to foods and beverages.
According to the Drugs.com online database, rose hips contain high levels of vitamin C. However, some rose hip preparations, including liquid extracts, may vary considerably in their vitamin C content depending on how they are processed. Other nutrients found in rose hips include vitamins D, E and K, as well as several B vitamins. Additional compounds include tannins, malic acid, citric acid, carotenoids, polyphenols, pectin and vanillin, the same agent found in vanilla and coffee beans.
According to Mary Bove, author of “An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants,” rose hips contain compounds that provide adaptogenic benefits, meaning they help to enhance adrenal and glandular function during times when the body is undergoing physical or emotional stress.
According to Winston Craig, Ph.D., rose hips also contain high levels of anthocyanins, catechins, plant sterols and other phytochemicals that have been shown to help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Specifically, this effect appears to be due to these agents decreasing levels of C-reactive protein, a protein manufactured in the liver in response to systemic inflammation. High levels of this protein indicate a higher risk for heart disease.
Dr. Craig also says that rose hip preparations contain antioxidants and may benefit patients suffering from inflammatory disorders, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While Craig cites experimentation by Danish scientists with a powder made from rose hip seed, there is evidence that the extract also demonstrates these effects. For instance, in a paper published in Inflammopharmacology, researchers at Kolding Hospital in Denmark reported that rose hip extract produced anti-inflammatory effects by reducing chemotaxis of peripheral blood neutrophils and monocytes in cultured cells.
According to Japanese researchers, quercetin isolated from rose hip extract appears to alter the synthesis of melanin pigment in melanocyte cells by inhibiting the activity and expression of tyrosinase proteins in mouse melanoma cells. The results of this study, which were published in the September 2009 edition of Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, are significant because melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. However, more clinical studies are needed to confirm that the results of this study can be extrapolated to human melanoma cells.