Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a plant used as a supplement for general anti-inflammatory and antioxidant purposes.
The plant appears to have a rich source of flavonoids and is also being studied for its cardiovascular and blood health and its ability to speed wound healing.
The leaves can be encapsulated for supplementation, as can the oil that is derived from the plant’s berries.
Sea buckthorn berries are rich in vitamin C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids, fatty acids, plant sterols and minerals.
Sea buckthorn may help prevent blood clots. The results of a small-scale study showed that 5g of buckthorn berry oil taken for 4-8 weeks was associated with reductions in aggregation rate and the maximal aggregation of blood platelets — the clumping together of platelets in the blood; part of the sequence of events leading to the formation of a clot.
In another study, flavones extracted from sea buckthorn were compared with aspirin in their ability to prevent clot formation.
The results of the study showed that the extracted flavones prevented in-vivo clot formation, probably due to inhibition of platelet aggregation. Supplementation may be a possible future approach for the prevention of dangerous clots (1).
Further studies on the dose-response effects are needed to assess the practical use of sea buckthorn supplements (2).
Sea buckthorn helps relieve dry eyes. Dry eye is a common condition that causes a scratchy sensation or the feeling that something is in the eye. Other symptoms include stinging or burning, pain and eye redness (3).
A 2010 study showed that oral sea buckthorn oil helps treat dry eyes. A group of 20- to 75-year-old women and men experiencing dry eye symptoms consumed 2 g of oral sea buckthorn oil or placebo oil daily for 3 months.
The maximum intensities of redness and burning tended to be lower in the sea buckthorn oil group. In addition, the oil attenuated the increase in tear film osmolarity to positively affect dry eye symptoms (4).
Tear film osmolarity is the salt content within the tear film and in those with dry eyes, the salt content tends to be higher while the water content is lower. The increased salinity of the tear film results in irritation and inflammation of the cells on the surface of the eye which causes the symptoms related to dry eye syndrome.
Sea buckthorn has antiulcer properties. There are a growing number of studies showing the ability of this plant to heal ulcers. In one study performed in rats, researchers orally administrated sea buckthorn procyanidins to gastric ulcers in rats.
Supplementation was found to reduce the size of the ulcers at day 7 and 14 in a dose-dependent manner. It is believed that the mechanism of action is due to the acceleration of the mucosal repair (5).
In another study, oral administration of sea buckthorn seed and pulp oils significantly reduced ulcer formation in rats. In addition, administration of the two oils sped up the healing process of acetic acid-induced gastric ulcer (6).
These results suggest that sea buckthorn seed and pulp oils have both preventive and curative effects against experimental gastric ulcers in rats.
Sea buckthorn helps speed wound healing. Researchers recently evaluated the safety and healing efficacy of sea buckthorn seed oil on burn wounds in rats with promising results.
The seed oil augmented the wound healing process as indicated by a significant increase in wound contraction in comparison to control and reference control treated with silver sulfadiazine ointment.
It was observed that the seed oil also has antioxidant properties as evidenced by a significant increase in reduced glutathione level and reduced production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in wound granulation tissue.
There were no adverse effects observed (7).
There is currently no human evidence on wound healing, nor are there comparisons to reference drugs in order to assess potency.
Sea buckthorn may help improve skin-related aging of the skin. Oxidative stress and oxidative photodamage induced by UV radiation can cause serious skin damage that is characterized by wrinkling, roughness and hyperpigmentation.
According to the results of a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, the oral intake of a sea buckthorn fruit blend induced a decrease in wrinkle formation in the damaged skin of UV-irradiated mice.
Researchers concluded that supplementation has potential as a protective and therapeutic treatment against skin aging that functions by regulating the moisture content, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression levels and superoxide dismutase (an antioxidant enzyme) activity.
UV radiation increases the expression of MMPs in human skin. MMPs are responsible for degrading the extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins such as collagen, fibronectin, elastin and proteoglycans, contributing to photoaging (8,9).
Sea buckthorn may offer protective effects against oxidative stress and hypercholesterolemia. In one study, researchers found that a novel sea buckthorn wine containing significant in vitro free radical-scavenging activity, exerted protective effects against oxidative stress and high cholesterol diet-induced hypercholesterolemia in male mice (10).
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body and can lead to many diseases including coronary heart disease.
Sea buckthorn oil may cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems.
When used on the skin to treat burns, it may cause a rash.
Sea buckthorn may interfere with anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs and might slow blood clotting.
It may also cause low blood sugar in people with diabetes who take medication to lower blood sugar.
One case study noted that chronic consumption of sea buckthorn (over six months) resulted in the yellowing of the skin in a 45-year-old male (11).
Sea buckthorn is supplemented as either a dry plant extract or as an oil made from the berries.
When supplementing dry extracts, the range of 500-2,000mg is used for both the berry extracts and the leaf extracts. For the oil, slightly higher dosage ranges (2,000-5,000mg) are used daily.
As with any supplement, it is best to seek the advice of a physician before use.
Sea buckthorn is a plant that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cardiovascular purposes.
Rich in flavonoids, the leaves can be encapsulated for supplementation, as can the oil that is derived from the plant’s berries. The berries are rich in vitamin C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids, fatty acids, plant sterols and minerals.
Emerging studies show its potential for treating a range of conditions, including preventing blood clots, healing wounds, relieving dry eyes, treating ulcers and improving the appearance of skin damaged by UV rays.