Rosehip oil is extracted from the fruit seeds of the wild rose bush plant called Rosa affinis rubiginosa. Most rosehip oil extracts are derived from the wild plants grown in the southern Andean Mountains, in Chile and Argentina. Rosehip oil is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, such as reducing the appearance of scars, wrinkles and age spots. However, it is not without side effects.
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Gastrointestinal Side Effects
Ingesting rosehip oil can cause can cause a variety of intestinal problems such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. There is also some evidence that rosehip extract can cause renal dysfunction, although that data has not been well substantiated.
As with many ingredients placed directly on the skin, rosehip oil can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction. Although it is often used to treat skin irritation, sensitive skin may react to the oil itself. Patients with plant allergies or atopy, a condition where parts of the body that do not necessarily come in direct contact with the allergen show allergic reactions, may be particularly sensitive. Therefore, it is recommended that a very small test area be tried before a full application is used.
If rosehip oil is ingested, it may work similarly to rosehip extracts, a pill form of the rosehip oil that increases estrogen levels in the body. Therefore, people already on estrogens, such as those found in oral contraceptives, may exhibit an increase in the serum levels of the drugs. This could lead to side effects such as cramps, fatigue, headache and insomnia.
Risks for Pregnant and Nursing Women
Rosehip oil should not be used in pregnant and nursing mothers. The effects on unborn children and infants have not been adequately studied. In addition to fatty acids, rosehip oil also contains trans-retinoic acid, tannins, flavonoids, vitamin C and beta-carotene, some of which have been shown to have negative effects on unborn children and infants, particularly the trans-retinoic acids.
Side Effects Related to Vitamin C
Rosehip oil contains vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to interfere with occult blood and urine glucose tests. The vitamin C in rosehip oil, if ingested, might make blood more acidic, aggravating the symptoms of patients who have sickle cell anemia. Vitamin C also enhances oral iron absorption, and therefore could have negative consequences for patients with hemochromatosis, a disorder that hinders the body's ability to breakdown iron; thalassemia, a blood disorder in which abnormal hemoglobin is made; or anemia, a condition where the body does not have enough red blood cells. While it is possible that the vitamin C in rosehip oil could cause any or all of these effects, a large amount of the oil would have to be ingested for this to be seen.