Rose Hips for Osteoarthritis

A close-up of rose hips on a rose bush.
Anke Wittkowski/EyeEm/Getty Images

Rose hips are the seed pods of roses. Rose hips are not visible if the bush is pruned once the rose blossoms fade. If the faded flowers are not pruned, the rose hips will appear as small, reddish balls on the tips of the stems toward the end of the growing season.

How Rose Hips Are Used as a Natural Remedy

Rose hips have become a popular natural treatment for arthritis. Rose hips contain anthocyanins—compounds found in plants that have antioxidant properties. Rose hips also contain carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lycopene, beta-cryptoxanthin, rubixanthin, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Vitamin C is also abundant in rose hips.

Rose hips are available as an oil, as well as in powder or capsule form. LitoZin Joint Health is a popular brand name supplement product made of rose hips. As a supplement, rose hips have been studied for their health benefits, including pain-relieving properties for osteoarthritis. It is believed to act to decrease inflammation by reducing the production of COX-1 and COX-2, which is the effect of anti-inflammatory medications.

What the Research Says

A meta-analysis of three short-term clinical trials involving the same preparation of rose hips concluded that, compared to placebo (an inactive pill or sugar pill), rose hips are an effective pain reliever and it reduces the need for other pain medications. A total of 306 patients participated in the three trials the meta-analysis looked at; two of the studies were from Denmark and one involved patients from Norway.

The three studies included:

The three studies, all of which were funded by Hyben-Vital International (a manufacturer of rose hips products), did not directly compare rose hips powder to other pain medications (such as acetaminophen) or supplements (such as glucosamine), although it was reported in some newspapers that they did.

Researchers drew indirect comparisons to other studies that compared acetaminophen and glucosamine to placebo. Another limitation of the meta-analysis was that the three studies were all short-term, they lasted about three months each. Researchers concluded that there is a need for larger, long-term studies of rose hips for osteoarthritis. While these studies and the meta-analysis show there may be a pain-relief effect, the studies were all funded by a manufacturer that had a vested interest in the studies being successful. Given the large numbers of people with osteoarthritis, the number of patients in these studies was very small.

Discuss Supplements With Your Doctor

It is important to discuss any natural or herbal supplements you are interested with your doctor. You want to avoid any interactions with other medications you are taking. If rose hips are the active ingredient, they can either reduce or enhance the effects of your other medications. Discuss all supplements with your doctor and pharmacist.

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Article Sources

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  • A standardized powder made from rosehips (Rosa canina L.) improves function and reduces pain and the consumption of rescue medication in osteoarthritis. Winther K.
  • Does the hip powder of Rosa canina (rosehip) reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients? – a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Christensen R. et al. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. April 2008. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2008.03.001
  • Rose Hips, Arthritis Foundation, Accessed 12/30/2015.