Dog Rose (Rosa canina) is an indigenous herb to Europe, found in hedgerows, scrub, woods and wasteland. In autumn the arching stems with downy hooked thorns bear clusters of ‘flask-shaped’ scarlet fruit known as rose hips. These floral superfoods make eye-catching bait for birds, bursting with autumn and winter medicine for our homes. Be sure to share in this harvest with the local wildlife as they are rich in therapeutic uses!
High in vitamin C, the therapeutic uses for rose hips are many, with a plethora of tonic and antioxidant properties that work in synergy with a variety of vitamins and minerals.
They are anti-inflammatory, astringent (drying), stomachic (strengthening digestion), nervine (strengthening and nourishing the nervous system) and nutritive, with sour and cooling qualities. These actions make it a useful food and medicine for colder times of the year, used internally for natural relief of colds, sore throat, influenza, blocked chest and minor infectious diseases. Their long list of benefits includes easing chronic inflammation, offering pain relief, and helping cool the body to lower a fever. They can also help control diarrhoea and gastritis, and they act as a dietary supplement. They may help to eliminate waste, support the immune system, soothe nerves, relieve insomnia and lift depression, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Culinary use of rose hips include wine making, vinegar, jam, jelly, syrup, soup and tea. They’re also used in a nutritional syrup supplement (especially for babies) which is sometimes added to cough mixtures, and used to flavour medicines. Extracts are added to vitamin C tablets, food supplements, herbal remedies and herb teas. As you can see, rose hips have a great deal to offer in our autumn and winter medicine cabinet.
Here is a simple recipe you can safely carry out at home. It’s a fun project to do with children!