Sea buckthorn has captivated the natural health food industry recently. It’s in everything from soaps to ice cream. You can eat it, you can drink it, and you can even smear it on your skin. So, why the fuss over a prickly little plant?
A thorny, deciduous shrub, sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) is no pushover in its natural environment. Both drought and salt resistant, it can withstand harsh weather and temperatures as low as -40° C. Yet, despite sea buckthorn’s tough demeanour, within its bright orange berries dwells an extraordinary nutritional wealth–a wealth that has piqued the interest of natural health food professionals everywhere.
In fact, the vitamin content of sea buckthorn berries is higher than any other cultivated fruit or vegetable. Its list of constituents is impressive: vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, carotenoids (including beta carotene, lycopene, and zeaxanthin), unsaturated fatty acids (omega-3, -6, -7, and -9), and a host of flavonoids. Clearly, sea buckthorn is a multipurpose antioxidant powerhouse.
The Many Lives of Sea Buckthorn
Besides being a healthy food source, sea buckthorn has many other uses. Essential fatty acids are important in the maintenance of healthy skin, and sea buckthorn has plenty of those. In addition, sea buckthorn oil can be used in sunscreen as it absorbs ultraviolet light.
These skin-friendly properties make sea buckthorn a boon for the cosmetics industry.
Medicinally, sea buckthorn is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial–useful for pain relief and for the promotion of tissue regeneration. This makes it beneficial in the treatment of radiation damage, burns, ulcers, skin damage, cardiovascular diseases, and digestive tract disorders.
With sea buckthorn popping up in almost every incarnation imaginable these days, it’s easy to become skeptical. But this shrub is no new kid on the block. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over a thousand years–not bad for a thorny little tough guy.
Did You Know?
- According to Greek mythology, sea buckthorn was the favourite food of Pegasus, the winged horse.
- Sea buckthorn creme was used by Russian cosmonauts for protection from cosmic radiation.
- In 1986 sea buckthorn was used to treat the radiation injuries of Chernobyl nuclear disaster victims.
- In 1988 Chinese athletes were supplied with sea buckthorn sports drinks during the Seoul Olympic Games.
Super Sea Buckthorn Products
Sea buckthorn is found in a variety of beauty, health, food, and beverage products, including:
- soaps, shampoos, and conditioners
- oils and lotions
- supplements and medicines
- jams, jellies, and marmalades
- biscuits, candy, and ice cream
- teas and liquors