Sea buckthorn berry (Hippophae rhamnoides) has been known as a European, Mongolian and Chinese food and medicine for centuries. Supposedly, the ancient Greeks used it as food for race horses, thus the botanical name Hippophae (“shiny horse”).Sea buckthorn is the Swiss Army knife of supplements. More than 200 products are manufactured from sea buckthorn berry, including body oils, creams, soaps and shampoos, juices, jams, candies, elixirs, wine and beer. Seed and fruit “pulp oil” is the main active ingredient, but the whole fruit is also used in some preparations.
Rub It In, Why Don’tcha?
Sea buckthorn seed oil, with qualities very similar to evening primrose oil, is popular in high-end European skin-care lines. As a cosmetic and skin-care ingredient, sea buckthorn’s nourishing and tissue-healing properties stem from healthful compounds called phytosterols, which have been researched since the 1920s. Rich in various essential fatty acids, sea buckthorn oil also has a high content of the rare palmitoleic acid, which is also a natural component of skin fat.
Sea buckthorn seed oil is used for dry skin, abrasions, burns, sunburns, acne, eczema, hemorrhoids, ear infections, genital inflammation, radiation burns and even cataract prevention.
A 2005 Indian animal study discovered that a water extract of the leaves promotes wound healing, apparently because of increased antioxidant levels in the tissues as they heal. Another 2005 paper from the same group of Indian scientists concluded that sea buckthorn reduced inflammation in animal arthritis. Sea buckthorn berry extract reduced radiation damage to mouse cells in another study.
The oil has a long folk history for burns. It helps block UV rays, is emollient and helps heal tissues, making it ideal for preventing and treating sunburn. A 2006 controlled study of 151 burn patients found that topical oil accelerated healing time and reduced swelling, weeping, redness and pain.
Not Hard to Swallow
In an older study from 1999, researchers gave dermatitis sufferers 5g (10 capsules) of oil daily for four months, and their dermatitis improved significantly.
You may also want to try capsules of the oil for stomach ulcers: a recent animal study found that the remedy has preventive and curative effects against gastric ulcers.
The fruit juice is a good source of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD), making it a promising antiinflammatory and antiaging remedy.
Anecdotal reports and other findings suggest that sea buckthorn (particularly extracts of the oil, juice, leaves and bark) may help improve a range of health conditions, including heart disease, cholesterol balance, high blood pressure, stroke, gingivitis, eye diseases, immune function and red blood cell production after chemotherapy. Always check with your doctor first if you are taking any medication.
SEA BUCKTHORN SAVVY
What’s the best way to benefit from sea buckthorn? The oil is available as a liquid, for internal or external use, and in lotions. Take 1500-3000mg of soft-gel capsules daily. About 50-100g of sea buckthorn fruit supplies 500mg of vitamin C. Bottled sea buckthorn berry juice is now available at health food stores (try Pure Fruit Technologies SeaBuck7). See some personal care products containing the oil. Also, be aware that sea buckthorn may be listed as an ingredient under its Latin name, Hippophae rhamnoides.
The bright orange fruits are intensely sour, with up to 16 times as much vitamin C as kiwifruit, plus flavonoids, vitamin E, vitamin A and several other carotenes, including beta-carotene, lycopene and zeaxanthin. “To these, add essential fatty acids and vitamins B1, B2 and K.