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Sea Buckthorn

Sea buckthorn is a shrub native to China and areas of Europe. It contains many medicinal compounds, as well as nutrients that include:

  • Vitamins
  • Amino acids
  • Fatty acids
  • Minerals

The leaves, flowers, seeds, and berries of sea buckthorn are used in teas, oils, or concentrates for a wide variety of health issues.

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Why do people take sea buckthorn?

For hundreds of years, sea buckthorn has been used in Russia and China for its medical and nutritional qualities.

Sea buckthorn is thought to remove free radicals -- molecules that can damage cells. Others take sea buckthorn specifically to try to:

  • Treat stomach or intestinal problems
  • Improve blood pressure or blood cholesterol
  • Prevent or manage blood vessel or heart disease
  • Complement cancer treatment
  • Boost immunity and prevent infections
  • Treat obesity
  • Improve symptoms of cirrhosis
  • Improve eyesight or dry eyes
  • Treat respiratory problems such as asthma, colds, and pneumonia

People also use sea buckthorn as a sunscreen or cosmetic, and for a variety of skin problems such as:

  • Radiation damage
  • Exanthemata, a skin rash usually found in children
  • Bedsores, burns, or cuts
  • Acne, eczema, dermatitis, or dry skin

There isn't enough evidence to confirm that sea buckthorn works for most of these health problems. But there is some limited research showing it might be helpful for:

  • Dry eyes
  • Atopic dermatitis

In animal studies, sea buckthorn has also shown some promise in slowing the growth of tumors and ulcers. But more studies are needed.

Optimal doses of sea buckthorn have not been set for any condition. Quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely. This makes it very hard to set a standard dose.

Can you get sea buckthorn naturally from foods?

Sea buckthorn fruit or fruit juice can be found in certain jellies, juices, purees, sauces, drinks, and liquors. People do not usually eat the berries raw because they are acidic. The amount of sea buckthorn used in food is typically much less than that used for medicinal purposes.

What are the risks of taking sea buckthorn?

As a food, sea buckthorn is probably safe. Some research suggests it may also be safe when taken up to six months as a medicine.

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