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Rosehip 'better than painkillers' for arthritis

By Kate Devlin 19/05/2008

The pain-relieving properties of rosehip, which has previously been linked to reduced inflammation in osteoarthritis, have been suggested for decades. Now scientists have found that powder made from a wild variety of rosehip, Rosa canina, is better at reducing pain in patients than paracetamol. It is hoped that the fruit of the plant could bring relief to the more than two million sufferers of osteoarthritis in Britain, many of whom suffer acute pai

A review of studies, published in the medical journal, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, looked at the effect of the powder on more than 300 patients who were given different pain-relieving medications for an average of three months. They found that rosehip was almost three times more effective than standard paracetamol at relieving pain. It was also almost 40 per cent more effective than another common therapy, the drug glucosamine.

The team which conducted the study, led by Dr Robin Christensen, of the Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen, believes the powder works by also tackling the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.

Dr Kaj Winther, an inflammation specialist at the Frederiksberg Hospital, said: "This is very exciting news for arthritis sufferers. Some of the main advantages of taking an alternative medication such as rosehip to reduce pain are that, firstly, it is readily available over the counter and, secondly, unlike traditional painkillers, it does not produce unpleasant side-effects."

Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint in the body, although it is most common in the hands, knees, hips and spine. The disease is caused by the slow deterioration of the joint over many years and tends to run in families.



Photograph of rose hipsThe rose hip, also called the rose haw, is the pomaceous fruit of the rose plant. It is typically red to orange but may be dark purple to black in some species.

Rose hips of some species, especially Rosa canina (Dog Rose), have been used as a source of Vitamin C. Rose hips are commonly used as an herbal tea, often blended with hibiscus and as an oil. They can also be used to make jam, jelly and marmalade. Rose hip soup, "Nyponsopp

Health benefits:

• Particularly high in Vitamin C, with about 1700–2000 mg per 100 g in the dried product, one of the richest plant sources.

• Rose hips contain vitamins A, D and E, essential fatty acids and antioxidant flavonoids.

• Rose hip powder is a remedy for rheumatoid arthritis.

• As an herbal remedy, rose hips are attributed with the ability to prevent urinary bladder infections, and assist in treating dizziness and headaches. Rose hips are also commonly used externally in oil form to restore firmness to skin by nourishing and astringing tissue.

• Brewed into a concoction, can also be used to treat constipation.

• Rose hips contain a lot of iron, so some women brew rose hip tea during menstruation to make up for the iron that they lose with the blood.

• Rose hips are used for the creation of herbal tea, jam, jelly, syrup, beverages, pies, bread and marmalade, amongst others. A few rose species are sometimes grown for the ornamental value of their hips; such as Rosa moyesii, which has prominent large red bottle-shaped fruits.

• Rose hips have recently become popular as a healthy treat for pet chinchillas. Chinchillas are unable to manufacture their own Vitamin C, but lack the proper internal organs to process a variety of foods. Rose Hips provide a sugar free, safe way to increase the Vitamin C intake of chinchillas.

• Rose hips may also be fed to horses. The dried and powdered form can be fed at a maximum of 1 tablespoon per day to help increase coat condition and help with new hoof growth.

• The fine hairs found inside rose hips can be used as itching powder.

• Roses may be propagated from hips by removing the seeds from the aril (the outer coating) and sowing just beneath the surface of the soil. Placed in a cold frame or a greenhouse, the seeds take at least three months to germinate.

• Rose hips were used in many food preparations by indigenous peoples of the Americas.

• Rose hips are used for colds and influenza. The Latin binomial for this herb is Rosa laevigata



Arthritis is a term used to describe a number of painful conditions of the joints and bones. Two of the main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Cartilage (connective tissue) between the bones gradually wastes away (degenerates), and this can lead to painful rubbing of bone on bone in the joints. It may also cause joints to fall out of their natural positions (misalignment). The most frequently affected joints are in the hands, spine, knees and hips.

Rheumatoid arthritis
Also known as inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is a more severe, but less common condition. The body's immune system attacks and destroys the joint, causing pain and swelling. It can lead to reduction of movement, and the breakdown of bone and cartilage.

There are over 200 forms of arthritis. More common forms include:
ankylosing spondylitis,
cervical spondylitis,
systemic lupus erythematosis (lupus),
psoriatic arthritis, and
Reiter's syndrome.
Arthritis is often associated with older people, but it can also affect children. About one in 1,000 children develop arthritis. Arthritis in children is often called juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). The three main types of JIA are:

Oligo-articular JIA - is the most common form of JIA. It affects four or fewer joints in the body, most commonly the knees, ankles and wrists. This type has good recovery rates and the effects are rarely long term. However, there is a risk of developing eye problems, so children should have regular checks with an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).

Polyarticular JIA (or polyarthritis) - affects five or more joints, and the symptoms are very similar to adult rheumatoid arthritis. It can quickly spread from one joint to another and can develop at any age. It is often accompanied by a rash or fever.

Systemic onset JIA - begins with symptoms such as fever, rashes, lethargy and enlarged glands, and later develops into swollen and inflamed joints. It can also affect children of any age.

The main symptoms of all forms of arthritis include:
• stiffness,
• pain,
• restricted movements of the joints,
• swelling, and
• warmth and redness of the skin over the joint.

Osteoarthritis often develops in people who are between 40-60 years of age. Osteoarthritis becomes more common with age with around 12% of people over 65 affected by the condition. Osteoarthritis begins slowly with pain, stiffness and restricted movement in the affected joints. For some, slight stiffness is all that is experienced, but other people go on to have cracking or creaking joints (crepitation), knobbly bone growths (especially on

Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis affects between 1-3% of the population, and often starts between 30-50 years of age. Women are three times more likely to be affected by rheumatoid arthritis than men. Like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis begins gradually, with the first symptoms often being felt in small joints, such as fingers or toes. The condition can then progress to cause pain, swelling and stiffness of other joints, causing a lack of mobility. Cold a

The cause of osteoarthritis is not fully known. One theory is that some people are genetically predisposed to developing the disease, but this has not yet been proven.

Factors that may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis include:
• obesity, which puts added strain on joints,
• jobs, or activities, that involve repetitive movements of a particular joint, or
• previous damage to the joint, such as from a sports injury.
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by a fault in the immune system that makes the body to attack its own tissues. This may be inherited genetically (passed on from a family member).

See also
Arthritis drug research
News on Rheumatoid Arthritis

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