Sea-buckthorn benefits our health in numerous ways. This wonderful, extremely nutritious fruit has a long history. Named "God sent medicine" or "Liquid Gold" in Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian cultures, it has been used in traditional medicine to prevent or treat various ailments, such as inflammation, gastic ulchers and dermatological disorders[1].
Today, we have finally rediscovered sea-buckthorn and its health benefits there is a growing interest in this amazing berry by researchers, consumers and the food industry. There are several sea-buckthorn products available available including seed and berry oil, juice, capsules and a variety of cosmetic products.
Sea-Buckthorn Berries and Their BenefitsCredit:

1. Sea-buckthorn: General Information

The Name

According to wikipedia, the sea-buckthorn is also reffered to as sandthorn, sallowthorn or seaberry[2]. The scientific name of the common variety is Hippophae rhamnoides. The name hippophae is Greek in origin. It  comes from the Greek words “hippos” which means horse and “phaos” which means shiny. In ancient Greece sea-buckthorn was used as animal feed, especially for horses, because it made their coat shine[3].


Description and Geography

Sea-Buckthorn Shrubs and FruitsCredit:

The sea-buckthorn plant can be found in many geographic locations around the world.  The low shrub is rather prickly and it produces small, juicy orange fruit (quite bitter in taste). Sea-buckthorn shrubs can survive and prosper  in a wide range of climate. In Europe and Asia it grows in coastal regions, as well as in more desert-like conditions, and mountainous areas.This nutritious little wonder can survive in dry climates and soils. It needs, however, lots of  sunlight to flourish and thrive.Sea-buckthorn is found mainly in China, India, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, and northern areas of Russia, Ukraine, France, England, Denmark, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries. 
Harvesting the orange, extra nutritious berries isn't particulary difficult, as you can see in the following video.

Sea-buckthorn berries harvesting

2. Sea-buckthorn benefits: Nutrition and Health

Sea-buckthorn contains over 190 phytonutrients. These substances found in plant foods have been thoroughly studied by scientists and are generally considered very beneficial for our health. Certain studies show that they can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Sea-buckthorn is very rich nutritionally. It contains the very important vitamins C and E, a great deal of carotenoids, minerals, essential fats and amino acids. The nutritional and medicinal value of sea-buckthorn is confirmed in several studies. Important research areas include cancer therapy, cardiovascular diseases, treatment of gastrointestinal ulcers, skin disorder and liver protection[4].
Looking at hippophae's nutritional profile more closely we can see why it is really worth considering:

Vitamin C: The small orange fruit contains a phenomenal amount of vitamin C. On average, it has 695 mg per 100 grams.  This is about 15 times more than oranges (45 mg per 100 grams). There's much we can say about vitamin C. It is a well-known powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger. It prevents and fights infections, supports the heart and vascular system and could also protect against heart attacks. Vitamin C may also help prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol[9].

Vitamin E: There are also significant amounts of vitamin E (160 mg/100 g) in sea-buckthorn. Vitamin E is another antioxidant. It protects membranes and other important cellular structures of polyunsaturated fatty acids from free radicals and oxidation products. It is essential for a strong immune system that can fight viruses and bacteria. Vitamin E also prevents blood clotting and is essential for healthy skin and eyes.

Carotenoids: Sea-buckthorn contains significant amounts of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lycopene, alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein. All of them have various health protective mechanisms. These components have antioxidant and possible anti tumor activity. They also protect us from several eye conditions (reduced night vision, senile macular degeneration, etc).

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Minerals: The sea buckthorn contains calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, potassium, sodium, selenium and zinc. These minerals have many very important functions. For example, they help the body produce energy and support its growth. They also play a part in cell reproduction and rejuvenation.

Essential Fatty Acids: The sea buckthorn contains omega-3, omega-6, omega-9 and the very rare omega-7. The essential fatty acids are necessary for human health. Omega-3 fatty acids are protective against inflammation and may help lower the risk of some chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Omega-6 helps with bone health and, skin and hair growth. Meanwhile, it  regulates metabolism and maintains the reproductive system. Omega-9s are also important for heart health while controlling blood sugar.

The omega-7 is particularly important because it can reduce the risk of diabetes type II, prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaque, increase HDL-cholesterol and reduce an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein (CRP). This is associated with increased risk for heart attack and stroke [5].

Amino acids: There are 18 different amino acids in hippophae, of which 8 are necessary for the human body (threonine, valine, methionine, leucine, lysine, trytophan, isoleucine, and phenylalanine). What is more, there is a high concentration of aspartic acid (426,6 mg / 100 g.), a non-essential amino acid and a major excitatory neurotransmitter that has an important role in the urea cycle, as well as the formation of DNA and RNA [6].

Superoxide dismutase (SOD): Sea-buckthorn is a very good source of SOD. This is an incredibly potent antioxidant that binds free radicals and converts them to hydrogen peroxide, creating a strong anti-aging action.  It exists both inside and outside of cell membranes. SOD is one of the body's primary internal antioxidant defenses and plays a critical role in reducing the oxidative stress caused by various conditions such as atherosclerosis. Studies have shown that SOD can play a critical role in reducing internal inflammation and lessening pain associated with conditions such as arthritis[7].

3. Sea-buckthorn Benefits and products

Sea-buckthorn seed oil and berry oil

From the sea buckthorn two different oils can be extracted, the berry oil and the seed oil. These oils are rich in vitamins E, K, carotenoids (lycopene, β-carotene), tocopherols (α-tocopherol is the most abundant especially in seed oil), tocotrienols (more concentrated in pulp oil) and sterols. It is worth noting that the two hippophae oils have considerably different fatty acid composition[8].

The berry oil contains monosaturated and saturated fatty acids such as oleic acid, palmitoleic acid (comprising 30% of the total acids) and palmitic acid. The seed oil contains unsaturated fatty acids while it is the only oil that naturally provides a ratio 1:1 of linolenic acid (omega-3) to linoleic acid (omega-6). This is the perfect balance for a healthy body.  The berry oil is high in omega-7 and is ideal for skin and beauty. It moisturizes the cell membranes and has anti inflammatory properties.

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Dried sea-buckthorn

You can find the dried  berries in shops that sell herbs or health food stores. These can be eaten plain or added in muesli, yoghurt, cakes, pastries and jams. You can also use them to make tea. Put in a pot 1 cup of water and add 4-5 berries. Boil the tea for 3-5 minutes, let it cool and drink it.

Sea-buckthorn syrup

You can find it in stores or try a homemade version. To make sea buckthorn-syrup, boil the berries and strain them. Press out the juice, and then simmer in sugar until a syrupy consistency is achieved. 

You can also make a sea-buckthorn elixir. Here's the recipe.

Sea-buckthorn Elixir Recipe

Sea-buckthorn supplements

You can find a variety of products such as capsules, tablets and soft gels. Sea-buckthorn is often combined with spirulina. Both are natural products with a high nutritional value and they compliment each other really well. Always remember that food supplements don't replace a balanced and varied diet.

Other Products Available

There are sea-buckthorn energy bars, tea, honey, jam and juice. It can be used to make pies, liquors and fruit wines. The extremely high vitamin C content makes hippophae suitable for an array of skin care products. In the market you can find lotions, soaps, face creams, shampoos and many more. Do some research to find what products suit your needs best.

The Right Dosage

It is strongly recommended that you  first consult you health care provider before using any sea-buckthorn supplement. A specialist can indicate the right dose for you because this depends greatly on the user's age, health and several other conditions.  It is, of course, necessary to read the suggested dosage on the label of the product you bought. It wouldn't be a bad idea to start with the smallest dose possible to see how this works for you. For example, the oil extract may be taken at a dose of 5 ml two to three times a day, but you could start taking it once a day. In clinical trials, the amount of berry juice given to the subjects was 300 ml every day for 8 weeks. Half a glass of sea-buckthorn juice could be a good start.

Side Effects

Sea-buckthorn appears to be safe. There have been no side effects in the scientific trials where is has been used for up to 90 days. However, it is not sufficiently known whether it is safe to use the leaves or the pure extract. It should be avoided during pregnacy and lactation because of there are not enough scientific data to support its use. Studies have shown that hippophae seems to slow down blood clotting, so it shouldn't be used at least two weeks before having a surgery[6]. If you take any kind of medication, you should cnsult your doctor before you start using sea-buckthorn internally.