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Sea buckthorn oil has been upheld by folk medicine for centuries. Given this history of usage, it’s no surprise that this antidote has become the subject of scientific investigation to verify its real potential. Many people over the past centuries have touted the health-promoting promise of this plant, and recent research provides further support.
Botanically named Hippophae rhamnoides, sea buckthorn was revered in the ancient Greek civilization as “God-sent medicine” and cherished for its antiaging and cosmetic properties. Sea buckthorn has also been traditionally used in Chinese, Tibetan, and Ayurvedic medicine as a natural remedy for numerous medical ailments.
Every part of this shrub, from the leaves, flowers, and seeds, to the fruits, has been used for treating myriad ailments such as arthritis, ulcers, gout, diabetes, skin rashes, and infections like measles.
The berries of sea buckthorn have been credited with hemostatic and anti-inflammatory properties, owing to which they have found a place in the traditional medicine system. The medicinal worth of sea buckthorn is not restricted to its nutrient-rich berries alone. Sea buckthorn oil deserves special mention in this regard.
Nutritional Content of Sea Buckthorn Berries
The sea buckthorn shrub bears orange-colored berries that are known to have about 60 nutrients. It contains over 20 minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, which are vital to your health. It is also recognized as a source of healthy fats including omega-3, omega-6, omega-7, and omega-9; vitamins A, E, C, K, B1, and B2.
The presence of folic acid, xanthophylls, carotenes, flavonoids, and phenolics speaks volumes about the densely rich nutritional status of sea buckthorn. (1)(2)
Benefits of Sea Buckthorn Oil
Proponents claim that sea buckthorn oil has been attributed with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.
Let’s dissect the following benefits of sea buckthorn oil on health.
1. Nourishes your skin
Sea buckthorn oil is used in the beauty industry as an essential component of antiaging and shaving products. It boasts a rich composition of omega fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. These ingredients play an integral role in maintaining the elasticity and hydration of your skin to optimum levels, thereby promoting skin regeneration.
Topical application of sea buckthorn oil can help address your acne, dryness, redness, shaving rash, wrinkles, dry skin, age spots, rosacea, and eczema. (3)(4)(2)
A study published in the Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences evaluated the efficacy of a topical skin care cream containing the extract derived from the berries of the sea buckthorn plant. It was found that the sea buckthorn fruit extract inhibited the secretion of sebum and could possibly be used to treat acne. (5)
A 2017 study conducted on mice corroborated the role of sea buckthorn oil as a therapeutic cure for atopic dermatitis. It was found that sea buckthorn oil reduced the symptoms and severity of dermatitis as a result of its anti-inflammatory properties. (6)
How to use:
Rub a few drops of sea buckthorn oil on your rashes, acne scars, and dry patches.
2. Lubricates your eyes
Sea buckthorn oil can help relieve dry, itchy eyes, which are commonly experienced by the elderly and menopausal women. Sea buckthorn can help ease eye irritation that can subsequently lead to redness. (7)
A 2018 study published in Contact Lens and Anterior Eyes highlighted the effectiveness of an eyelid spray emulsion containing sea buckthorn oil and sodium hyaluronate as compared with a commercial reference spray and an untreated control eye to relieve the symptoms of dry eyes. The spray emulsion containing sea buckthorn oil was endured by the experimental group with no visible side effects. (8)
Avoid direct eye application of buckthorn oil before speaking with your doctor.
3. Fights infections and boosts immunity
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of sea buckthorn oil may help keep your immunity levels at optimum.
One of the antioxidants in sea buckthorn oil can help improve immunity by stimulating the activation of certain immune cells. (9)
A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology highlighted the immunomodulatory and antistress effects of sea buckthorn and its oil. The experiment concluded that model rats induced with chronic stress and given a treatment of sea buckthorn oil had reduced levels of cortisone and increased expression of natural killer immune cells. (10)
4. Supports cardiovascular health
Possessing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, sea buckthorn berry oil can provide cardioprotective benefits.
It can help lower platelet aggregation, inhibit the clumping of white blood cells (WBCs), and balance cholesterol levels. With all these benefits, sea buckthorn oil can reduce the risk of heart diseases such as cardiac arrest, stroke, and atherosclerosis. (11)
A study suggested the administration of sea buckthorn pulp oil (800mg/day for 60 days) in obese children (8–10 years). The study found that sea buckthorn oil helped lower respiratory burst, reduce the levels of inflammation and blood pressure, and improve the plasma lipid profile in the children under study. (12)
A 2017 study published in Clinical Nutrition corroborated the dietary supplementation of sea buckthorn seed oil to markedly reduce the levels of cholesterol, oxy-LDL, and triglycerides in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Although it was observed that its effects were not considered in the subjects with normal blood pressure and cholesterol, sea buckthorn oil supplementation helped improve the status of antioxidants in circulation in both normal and hypertensive subjects. (13)
Note: Always consult your doctor before you consider using sea buckthorn berry oil as it can possibly interact with your standard medications. More research is needed on sea buckthorn oil and heart health.
5. Improves your digestive health
Sea buckthorn oil may help your digestive health by strengthening the mucosal lining in your digestive tract, which in turn can help manage and heal gastric ulcers and other gastrointestinal tract problems such as an upset stomach, GERD, and heartburn. (14)(11)
A study published in Veterinary Medicine International highlighted the efficacy of sea buckthorn seed oil in comparison with four other medications in treating induced gastric ulcerations and erosions in dogs. Researchers concluded that sea buckthorn oil was the best treatment. This suggests a possibility of the same outcome for humans, but more research is needed. (15)
6. Supports your liver
Sea buckthorn berry oil hosts a diversity of antioxidant compounds – omega fats, vitamin E, and flavonoids, which are all known to have protective effects on the liver. (11)(16)
Sea buckthorn oil can help keep the liver in good shape by protecting it from damage induced by aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are produced by fungal species that infect crops such as peanuts, tree nuts, and corn. (17)
A 2014 study published in Medicine and Healthcare highlighted the use of sea buckthorn (1.5 grams, three times a day) on patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The experimental group of patients had synergistic effects on serum lipids, transaminase, liver/spleen ratio, and liver stiffness when administered a dose of sea buckthorn. (18)
7. Speeds up the healing process
The vitamin E and several other tocopherols in sea buckthorn oil contribute to the speedy healing of skin injuries.
Sea buckthorn oil encourages the healing process by acting as a barrier between the wound and the external microbial environment. The absence of any foreign pathogens prevents the wounds from being infected and speeds up the healing process. (19)(11)
A study conducted on rats with full-thickness burns highlighted the stimulation of the healing process upon treatment of sea buckthorn. The experimental group showed faster wound contraction than the control group treated with silver sulfadiazine.
The experimental group also developed an increased re-epithelialization, and treatment of sea buckthorn was deemed suitable to dress burn wounds. (20)
Even though some research suggests sea buckthorn oil may be helpful for treating wounds, use caution when using it on open wounds. Before putting sea buckthorn on a wound, consult your doctor.
8. Combats post-menopausal dryness
Sea buckthorn oil helps in moisture retention and in easing the dryness experienced by women post-menopause.
The abundance of omega fatty acids in sea buckthorn oil helps to strengthen the structure of the mucosal membrane layers in the digestive system, eyes, skin, vagina, and cells throughout the body.
In a 2014 study published in Maturitas, post-menopausal women took sea buckthorn oil or a placebo daily for 3 months. Researchers concluded that sea buckthorn oil significantly improved vaginal dryness. (21)
Because sea buckthorn oil contains omega-3 and omega-7 fatty acids, it can benefit people suffering from Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that causes excessive dryness in the eyes, mouth, and vagina.
9. Helps improve memory
The presence of omega-3 in sea buckthorn oil makes it a prospective candidate to boost memory. Omega-3 is needed for brain function and development.
The presence of antioxidants and other vital elements in sea buckthorn oil helps to combat oxidative stress, thereby protecting the brain cells from possible damage.
A study with rats suggests that treatment in the brain by sea buckthorn may have a role in the reversal of neurodegeneration. It also inhibited the decline in the levels of neurotransmitters as compared with the control groups. (22)
This suggests that sea buckthorn oil may have the same benefit in humans, but more research is needed.
ALSO READ: 13 Best Foods to Improve Brain and Cognitive Function
10. May provide protection against radiation-induced damage
Sea buckthorn oil may provide protection against damage induced by exposure to radiation.
Radiation can cause changes in the genetic composition of cells, resulting in mutations that can lead to genetic diseases and cancers.
Although being exposed to radiation for a short period may not immediately affect your health, it can cause severe damage or result in fatal consequences in high doses. (23)(11)
Sea buckthorn oil has been accredited with antioxidant properties that can help repair and defend the DNA against radiation-induced damage. (24)
- As advised by the National Institutes of Health, always scrutinize the Supplement Facts before you consider using a natural supplement. This label is your key to staying aware of the vital information regarding its contents per serving.
- Before taking any supplement, consult your doctor.
- Look for the seals of approval of the US Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, and NSF International as they verify the composition of a product and its manufacturing, although they do not vouch for its safety or effectiveness.
- Do not use sea buckthorn oil to self-treat any condition.
Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil and Sea Buckthorn Fruit Oil
There are two variants of this therapeutic oil, one which is extracted from the flesh of the yellow-orange or red berries and the other which is derived from the seeds of the sea buckthorn plant. These two variants differ in terms of their nutritional profile, despite some common characteristics.
The fruit oil is a viscous, dark-red oil that is extracted from the pulp of the berries and contains carotenoids. Similar to macadamia nuts and some cold-water oily fish, sea buckthorn fruit oil is one of the few sources of omega-7 fatty acids in the form of a monounsaturated fat called palmitoleic acid.
The sea buckthorn seed oil is an orange-yellow colored, lighter oil that is extracted from the seeds of the fruit and is high in essential fatty acids. The seed oil has an impressive balance of omega fatty acids, namely, omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. (25)(2)
Blending these two oils can give you the benefits of both, including healthy fatty acids and antioxidants such as vitamin E, flavonoids, polyphenols, and carotenoids.
Which of These Two Options Should You Choose?
The seed oil or a blend of both the seed and fruit oil is considered beneficial for oral consumption. The fruit oil is believed to be a fantastic remedy for topical use for cosmetic purposes or to treat wounds.
Risks and Precautions of Sea Buckthorn Oil
Sea buckthorn is generally considered safe, but some instances may warrant caution. Consult your doctor if you are taking any prescribed medication, breastfeeding, or pregnant.
- It is recommended to consult your doctor before taking any supplement including sea buckthorn oil extract.
- Sea buckthorn has blood-thinning properties. It is recommended to avoid its use before surgery or if you already take blood-thinning medication.
- Sea buckthorn can lower your blood pressure. Anyone with low blood pressure should avoid using sea buckthorn.
- Always perform a patch test to ensure you are not allergic to sea buckthorn oil. Dilute 1 drop of sea buckthorn oil in 1 tsp of carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil and apply the oil mixture on your inner elbow and leave it on for 1–2 hours. Check if your skin has reacted to the oil.
From Indian Ayurveda to traditional Chinese medicine and even some mentions in ancient Greek and other European cultures, sea buckthorn’s acclaim has traveled far and wide and continues to be just as relevant today. Even though sea buckthorn is available in different forms, it does not pack quite the same nutritional punch as its oil counterpart.
With a superior nutritional profile, teeming with antioxidants and omega fatty acids, sea buckthorn oil has been shown in some preliminary research to have benefits on the skin, liver, heart, and your overall health. However, more research on humans is needed.
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