A plant which produces the orange-colored sea buckthorn berry, and is grown primarily in the mountainous and colder regions of China, Russia and Canada, is rapidly becoming popular throughout the world for the hundreds of potential benefits it provides, both nutritionally and medicinally. Whether taken internally, in the form of a juice, tea or supplement, or applied topically to the skin in oil, lotion or cream form, sea buckthorn is beginning to earn a reputation as a “super fruit” for its ability to prevent a wide array of illnesses and conditions.
Sea Buckthorn is a thorny shrub that can reach 2 to 4 meters in height. The fruit is 4 to 6 mm in diameter and turns bright orange when ripe in mid-September. It thrives in moist conditions, but can also grow in poor soil and is able to tolerate cold and extreme conditions. Even though the fruit is difficult to harvest because of the thorns and the shape of the branches, this shrub is grown extensively in different parts of the world for its many medicinal properties. Greeks were apparently the first ones to discover the medicinal properties of Sea Buckthorn. They fed the leaves to their horses, whose coats turned very shiny. This is how Sea Buckthorn got its Latin name. “Hippo” stands for horse and “phaos” means to shine. Sea Buckthorn has also been used for over a thousand years in China for skin irritation, sunburn, wounds, gastric problems, coughs and mucous membrane health. Recently many countries have conducted scientific research on Sea Buckthorn, which has confirmed the curative properties of the plant. These studies have also found that Sea Buckthorn is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. The berries contain 10 different vitamins, 24 trace elements, and 18 amino acids. They are rich in protein, and have a high concentration of some rare essential fatty acids. A German study found that Sea Buckthorn contains as much vitamin B-12 as liver. It is also on the top list for vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and flavonoid content. Cosmetic made of Sea Buckthorn are valued for their rejuvenating, restorative and anti-aging properties. Sea Buckthorn oil is widely used to treat various skin conditions like dry skin, burns, and premature skin aging caused by the sun. Research has also found antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties in Sea Buckthorn.*
Sea buckthorn berries contain more than 100 different nutrients and phytochemicals, including sterols, flavonoids, tannins and the antioxidants gallic and ellagic acids. The berries are also rich in plant pigments — or carotenoids — among them lycopene, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthins; the antioxidant vitamins C and E are also present in high levels.
In a study published in 2002 in “Fitoterapia,” oils from sea buckthorn berries and seeds significantly reduced ulcer formation in rats, while speeding the healing process of existing gastric ulcers. A later study, published in 2005 in “Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin,” supported sea buckthorn berry’s protective effects against lead-induced memory impairment and neuronal damage in mice. However, studies on humans have been less encouraging. In a double-blind placebo-controlled study published in 2008 in “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” researchers found that sea buckthorn berry was ineffective in preventing common colds and urinary tract infections. The berries did appear to cause a significant drop in C-reactive protein, a common marker of inflammation and a risk factor for heart disease; researchers called for future study.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.