Rosa canina or dog rose not only looks beautiful, but it is also used for a wide range of medical ailments. This perennial plant is native to Europe, North Africa, and temperate parts of southwestern Asia. It is used as a source of vitamins, to treat diarrhea, to reduce thirst, to prevent inflammation of the stomach, and as a diuretic.
Reaching heights of 10 feet (3 m), rosa canina is known for its ability to climb high. It has thorns that are curved, making it ideal for a hedgerow. Its leaves are found in groups of two or three with jagged teeth-like edges. The flowers are striking and are usually white or pink in color. The most valuable part of this plant is its fruit or hips. The hips are typically bright red, picked in the fall, and used for their medicinal value.
The hips of rosa canina contain a wide range of vitamins and other essential nutrients. For example, the hips are quite high in vitamin C. They also contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and K. Other elements include flavonoids, tannins, polyphenols, vanillin, oil, and carotenoids. Each plays a valuable role in the human body.
One of the reasons rosa canina is valued is because of the high levels of useful vitamins in its hips. The fresher the hips are when they are consumed, the more vitamins and nutrients they can provide the body for absorption. Consequently, it is quite common for someone to make a concoction of the hips simply to get a good dose of readily absorbable vitamins. Even children can consume the hips, through a sweet, nourishing syrup called rose hip syrup.
Some people prefer to use the rosa canina petals together with the hips. In combination, they are believed to work as an astringent, a diuretic, a laxative, and a tonic. If the hips are used alone, some people claim they can treat a cold, scurvy, diarrhea, minor infections, and gastritis. In addition, studies are underway to see if the hips may stop or reverse the growth of some cancerous cells.
There are some side effects associated with rosa canina, although they are relatively minor. For example, there is a hair-like layer under the flesh of the hips. This layer can irritate the digestive track and mouth if ingested. As with any herbal supplement, a professional should be consulted before beginning any homeopathic regimen.