Originally published by By Deva O’Donnell on May 13, 2014
Sea buckthorn, also referred to as sallowthorn or seaberry, is a shrub found in Eastern Europe andCentral Asia. It has been used for centuries in China as a food and medicine. The plant is also well known for its antioxidant properties—the orange berries contain vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and fatty acids, while the oil found in the seeds is rich in fatty acids, vitamins E and K, carotenoids and sterols.
The berries are widely popular in Europe, especially Germany and Scandinavian countries as jams and juices. It is also consumed as a juice in Mongolia, India and China. While the flavor is similar to oranges or peaches, sea buckthorn berries are one of the fruits with the highest vitamin C contents at 114 to 1,500 mg per 100 g (15 times greater than that of oranges).
According to the Natural Health Library (NHL), the fruit and the oil from its pulp and seeds have been used to treat many conditions, such as skin and digestive problems, as well as cough. In traditional Chinese medicine, sea buckthorn is used as an expectorant and demulcent. Recent studies suggest the usefulness of sea buckthorn in treating atopic dermatitis and burns, according to the NHL.
The plant has also shown promising results in cancer treatments. A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research in November 2009 showed the benefits of sea buckthorn extract, called RH-3. The extract was dissolved in double distilled water, filtered and added to a culture of human cancer cells. RH-3 was observed to reduce radiation-induced cellular and mitochondrial free radicals. The findings also showed RH-3 acting as an antioxidant, preventing cellular and mitochondrial free radical generation that could contribute to its ability to inhibit radiation-induced cell death and cell toxicity.
Further, the plant has shown positive effects in the treatment of cardiac problems. An article by Subhuti Dharmananda, PhD, director of the Institute for Traditional Medicine, reviewed a doubleblind, clinical trial conducted in China of 128 patients with ischemic heart disease. The participants were given total flavonoids of sea buckthorn at 10 mg three times daily for six weeks. The patients showed a decrease in cholesterol levels and improved cardiac function. They also had less chest pain and reduced signs of stress.
Sea buckthorn contains antiinflammatory chemicals, giving it the ability to reduce swelling and redness for acne sufferers, and is a mild analgesic, providing relief from acne pain. The oil extracted from the pulp of the fruit or the seeds, which contains antimicrobial compounds that plants produce to protect themselves from bacterial attacks, according to Livestrong.com, can be applied directly to the skin.
Seabuckthorn has a natural concentration of omega fatty acids, including omega-7. According to Seabuckthorninsider.com, the only other plant that has omega-7 is the macadamia, but sea buckthorn contains twice as much as macadamia oil. One of the reasons sea buckthorn is useful for digestive troubles and ulcers is its high omega-7 content and its ability to line the stomach and intestines.
A 2011 mice study showed that sea buckthorn can also be used for weight loss. The study featured two mice, both fed the same diet, showed that the one fed sea buckthorn oil was able to maintain a normal weight while the other ballooned in size and suffered from weight-related health problems. According to Seabuckthorninsider.com, the research indicates that the EFA (essential fatty acids) may oxidize fat that is not needed for the body’s functions, preventing it from being stored as weight gain.
Sea buckthorn may increase risk of bleeding, low blood sugar levels and low blood pressure, according to NHL. It should be used cautiously in people with autoimmune diseases, heart rhythm disorders and in those taking heart rate-regulating agents, anticancer agents, agents processed in the liver, or agents that affect the immune system.