Sea Buckthorn: A Power Plant

Ancient medicine for your current ailments.
By Cara Lucas

Sea buckthorn is a plant with many legends attached to it and although it seems like a mystical berry, its healing properties are grounded in the scientific world. Sea Buckthorn’s genus name, Hippophae, means “shining horse,” adding credit to some far-fetched fables that accompany the plant’s history. Legend has it that the ancient Greeks used sea buckthorn leaf in a diet for their racehorses; it allowed the horses to recover quickly while giving them brilliantly shiny coats. It was also rumored to be the preferred diet of the great flying horse, Pegasus, that gave him the power to soar.

No matter if it’s an accurate account or a tall tale, we can be sure that this plant has made an impact on history. It is currently held in prominent regard around Europe and Asia for its healing properties, with the United States recently discovering the endless possibilities that sea buckthorn can bring to the natural healthcare market.

So, what exactly is this mysterious plant? First of all, it is a multi-use deciduous shrub that grows in colder climates (and shady areas) around Eurasia; the bright orange fruit thrives in high-altitude areas as well as along the seacoasts—just as its name suggests. Sea buckthorn offers many positive health benefits and has recently garnered “superfood” status, joining the ranks of goji, mangosteen, and açai. And, not one single part of the plant is lacking—the branches, leaves, berry skin, pulp, and seeds all have healing properties when used correctly.

Today, the plant reduces to several different forms, but this doesn’t take away from its potency in the least. Berry oil, seed oil, pills, juice, food additives—whatever way you decide to use it, it can benefit your health and allow your beauty to shine through.

Skincare

Let’s talk a little about sea buckthorn in regards to skincare. Given that lipids are essential to skin health, it is obvious why sea buckthorn flourishes in nourishing your body’s largest organ. Its specialized fatty-acid composition (it is a powerful source of omega-3, -6, and -9 fatty acids, as well as a rich source of the elusive omega-7 essential fatty acid, which is vital to collagen production), along with the high presence of antioxidants, replenishes essential oils and nutrients that promote skin regeneration and speed up wound healing.

The sea buckthorn berry has proven beneficial to skin when applied topically with creams and, in the last couple of years, has garnered attention for its efficacy when orally consumed in supplement form. A recent study investigated the anti-aging effects of both oral supplementation and topical skin application of sea buckthorn seed oil, measuring skin hydration status, elasticity, luminosity, surface roughness, and cutaneous thickness as markers for visible improvement.

During the aforementioned study, 60 female subjects ages 50 to 70 were divided into two groups—one group who took sea buckthorn capsules orally (four capsules per day for three months) and the other group applied sea buckthorn seed oil night cream topically twice per day for three months. Both groups’ skin was tested for general health using noninvasive measurements before, after one month, and at the end of treatments. Both groups displayed significant improvement in the above-measured areas, making it the first study that showed beneficial results of using sea buckthorn oil orally to reduce the signs of skin aging.

Of course, sea buckthorn seed oil is effectively used for the topical treatment of skin issues, as well. Like açai, it is a natural anti-inflammatory and has properties that treat burns, eczema, frostbite, lupus, and psoriasis. This liquid magic can counteract a bad. Preliminary trials also indicate a promising future in treating arthritis.

Whole-Body Health

Aside from giving you beautiful skin, sea buckthorn is known as a natural healing herb and boosts positive effects on heart health. A study published in the Journal of Functional Foods explains that specific flavonoids and carotenoids innate to sea buckthorn increase circulating lipid markers, act as powerful antioxidants, improve cardiac cell health, and prevent cardiac cell death from oxidative stress and injuries. These flavinoids and carotenoids naturally lower cholesterol and the essential fatty acids can help treat hypertension, as well. Basically, this plant has incredible cardio-protective capabilities and is promising in the entire spectrum of human health—not just skincare.

In fact, the sea buckthorn berry is about one-third the size of a blueberry, but is chock full of vitamins and nutrients that provide a host of health benefits. It provides ten times more vitamin C than oranges and is the third highest source of vitamin E in the plant world.

Sea buckthorn has recently swept headlines as a possible weight-gain inhibitor. In a recent episode of his famous talk show, Dr. Oz brought the attention of his viewing audience to the newly discovered weight-management possibility of sea buckthorn. He discussed a study that involved two groups of mice. Both groups were fed the exact same high-fat diet. The only difference was that one group was given sea buckthorn oil, which contained omega-7 fatty acids. The mice in this particular group maintained their normal weight throughout the course of the experiment, which was about half of that of the opposite group of mice. Now, don’t jump ahead of yourself—this does not mean it promotes weight loss, it simply prevented the mice from gaining the excess amount that the other group did.

Whether you swallow a pill, slather it on your skin, or use it as a food additive, the sea buckthorn plant offers a distinct and highly effective health boost. Its superstar composition is packed full of vitamins and nutrients that can heal you from the inside out and restore your natural beauty.

Maybe we should consider those legends a little more seriously.