Sea buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides, is a hardy shrub with thorny branches, delicate and willowy leaves, and bright orange-yellow berries. This shrub is also known as seaberry, Siberian pineapple, sandthorn, and sallowthorn. It likes to grow in rugged coastal regions or drier sub-alpine locations.
Native to northern and central Europe, the Caucasus region, and western Asia, this shrub has a long history of use for its berries and seed oil.
Sea buckthorn berries are rich in vitamins, carotenoids (plant pigments), and fatty acids, while the seeds offer a rich oil high in fatty acids. Both the fruit pulp and the seed yield a nutritious oil.
Sea buckthorn has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties along with a variety of nutrients shown to have human health benefits. Most of the benefits you receive from sea buckthorn come from using the fruit and its oil.
Although the majority of clinical studies focus on sea buckthorn oil as health supplements and cosmetic ingredients, traditional medicine has often used the entire berry.
The health benefits of sea buckthorn are varied, and it has been shown to:
Increase Cardiovascular Health
Sea buckthorn is rich in flavonoids and omega-3, 6, 7, and 9 fatty acids, which have a strong effect on your cardiovascular system. Palmitoleic acid is an omega-7 fatty acid rarely found in plant food sources, but sea buckthorn oil is one of the only plant-based sources of this unsaturated fatty acid.
Palmitoleic acid, along with other fatty acids, can help to lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and improve overall cardiac function.
Support Cancer Therapy
Clinical studies have shown some support for using sea buckthorn oils and juices in cancer therapy. Several flavonoids in sea buckthorn, especially quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin, create cytotoxic responses with cancer cells and help to stop them from multiplying.
Improve Skin Health
Sea buckthorn is widely used in skin and hair products due to the rich array of vitamins and fatty acids it contains. Apart from vitamins C, A, and E, the oil is rich in gamma-linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that helps blood circulation and reduces signs of aging.
Sea buckthorn oil also contains plant sterols like beta-sitosterol and campesterol that add hydration, smooth skin texture, and boost skin elasticity.
Sea buckthorn contains antioxidants which help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. This damage can lead to serious diseases such as cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases. Eating antioxidants can help reduce your risk of potentially life threatening diseases.
Sea buckthorn is generally considered safe for external and internal use and has minimal side effects. That said, a small percentage of people may experience side effects when taking sea buckthorn.
This supplement may interact with certain medications, especially blood pressure and blood clotting medications. Using sea buckthorn regularly could thin your blood and make you more prone to bleeding or clotting issues.
If you are sensitive to the sea buckthorn plant, you may experience adverse side effects from using this supplement. Known allergies to the Elaeagnaceae plant family may make you allergic to sea buckthorn as well. It's best to avoid the fruit, oil, juice, or other component of this species if you have similar plant allergies.
Pregnancy and Lactation
It is unknown whether pregnant or lactating women may experience adverse reactions to themselves or their developing child. Avoid using this supplement until you speak to your doctor.
Amounts and Dosage
There is no established recommended dosage for sea buckthorn oil or a recommended amount for the fruit. Supplements are not standardized and may range from 350 mg to 1,000 mg of sea buckthorn, typically in capsule form.
Sea buckthorn berries are difficult to find in food stores but are likely available for online purchase. Talk to your doctor about whether sea buckthorn fruit and oil is right for you and what amount they recommend you take.