(NaturalHealth365) Arthritis, the leading cause of work disability in the United States, currently affects 54.4 million adults in the United States. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the two most common varieties, can cause debilitating joint pain, swelling, and loss of mobility. Now, a new scientific review credits rose hips with decreasing inflammation and easing painful symptoms of arthritis – while also working to prevent chronic degenerative conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
To learn how to use rose hips to combat inflammation that triggers chronic disease – keep reading.
Scientists discover: How rose hips can help reduce arthritis pain and inflammation
In a new review of studies published in International Journal of Molecular Science, the authors credited rose hips – the fleshy bulbs that appear beneath rose flowers — with beneficial anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects on diseases such as arthritis.
Rheumatic arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease, while osteoarthritis is viewed more as a degenerative condition caused by age-related “wear and tear” on joints. Yet, chronic inflammation plays a role in both diseases – and powdered rose hips seem custom-designed to reduce inflammation.
In one study, researchers found that a puree of rose hips from the Rosa canina (dog rose) and Rosa arvensis (field rose) species helped to inhibit production of the pro-inflammatory enzymes COX-1 and LOX. (Incidentally, this is the same mechanism used by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain – only minus the toxicity and serious side effects).
In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study involving rheumatoid arthritis patients – many of whom had had the disease for over a decade – 5 grams of powdered rose hips a day for six months improved quality of life and helped participants get better scores on tests of physical function.
And, a 2008 analysis of three clinical studies involving a total of 287 patients demonstrated that rose hip powder reduced osteoarthritis pain, improved hip flexion and doubled the patients’ ability to respond to other therapies.
Interestingly, simply inhaling the fragrance of roses can be therapeutic. In a 2013 study, researchers found that aromatherapy with Rosa damascene – or Damask roses – significantly reduced post-operative pain after multiple infusions.
(The pain-killing properties of rose hip powder should come as no surprise. Rose hips are rich in the organic compound salicyclic acid – which is commercially synthesized to make aspirin).
Antioxidant-rich rose hips help to fight heart disease
Rose hips are a rich source of various carotenoids, including beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein and lycopene. These natural antioxidant pigments – the same compounds responsible for the bright hue of tomatoes and carrots – give rose hips their vivid red and orange coloration.
Carotenoids have been shown to inhibit the oxidation of fats, thereby reducing atherosclerosis and preventing damage to blood vessels.
Clinical studies have supported the potential of rose hips to reduce heart disease risk.
In a study published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that 40 grams of powdered rose hips a day for six weeks caused significant reductions in systolic blood pressure and excessive amounts of LDL cholesterol excess in obese participants.
As a result, the group experienced a 17 percent overall reduction in risk of heart disease and stroke.
Rose hips are also rich in ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C. In fact, a mere two or three rose hips provide as much vitamin C as a medium orange.
Although ascorbic acid is a powerful antioxidant in its own right, it is not solely responsible for the free radical-fighting properties of rose hips. When researchers tested a rose hip extract from which vitamin C had been removed, they found that it still inhibited oxidation and neutralized free radicals – showcasing the important antioxidant role played by its carotenoids.
Bonus news: Daily intake of rose hip powder also lowered blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) – a biological marker of inflammation and heart disease.
Rose hips have antidiabetic and anti-aging properties
The benefits of rose hips extend beyond helping to prevent heart disease.
Animal studies have shown that rose hips are associated with better glucose tolerance, less fat in the liver, reduced abdominal fat and improved ratios of LDL to HDL cholesterol – all of which can help ward off the development of type 2 diabetes.
In addition, rose hip powder improves the function of insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells – yet another of its weapons in the fight against diabetes.
Some researchers even maintain that rose hips can mimic the life-extending effects of calorie restriction, which has been shown to extend lifespan. Rose hips have been shown to increase the activation of AMPK – an enzyme that stimulates the renewal and re-birth of mitochondria, the “power producers” of the cells.
Loss of ability to activate AMPK can result from normal aging, and has been linked to impaired metabolic regulation and increased oxidative stress. This, in turn, leads to chronic inflammation and disease.
Clearly, the ability of rose hip powder to increase AMPK activation is a boon to the body, one which could help prolong quality of life.
How do I get the benefit of rose hips?
Rose hips ripen in late summer and autumn, and are ready to harvest when they turn an intense orange-red – a visual cue that their antioxidants and vitamins are at peak level.
After being thoroughly washed, fresh rose hips are ready to be nibbled on, and feature a mouth-puckeringly tart flavor similar to that of a sour apple.
Rose hips can also be made into jellies, jams and syrups – and brewed into a refreshing tea.
Powdered rose hips are also available, and can easily be added to drinks, herbal teas, smoothies and salads. For those who can’t warm up to the tangy taste, rose hip powder can be taken in capsule form.
Of course, you shouldn’t use rose hips or rose hip powder if you are allergic to roses.
When it comes to drawing conclusions from studies, scientists don’t tend towards effusiveness – which makes the endorsement in a review published in Pharmacological Research all the more impressive.
The authors not only credited rose hips with potential therapeutic roles against a wide variety of diseases, but deemed them “a treasure waiting for further exploration by researchers interested in the development of safe and effective anti-arthritic agents.”
Sources for this article include
Food & Nutrition
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