What is Sea Buckthorn and how can it improve your health?
It isn’t aptly named, but Sea Buckthorn boasts a great deal of health benefits – especially for vegans!
Until last week, I’d never heard of Sea Buckthorn. When my naturopath suggested I start taking it, I innocently asked her if it was a seaweed. Turns out, it’s not. In fact, it doesn’t come from the sea at all. This plant, otherwise known as Hippophae Rhamnoides or “liquid gold”, grows primarily in China, Mongolia, Russia, northern Europe and – interestingly enough – Canada! It has small orange berries that are used to make tea, juices, jellies, cosmetics and anti-aging lotions. Intriguing, right?
Seeing as Sea Buckthorn has been used in Ayurvedic medicine herbal remedies dating as far back as 5000 B.C., it’s certainly worth looking into. Let’s take a closer look at its health-boosting properties:
1. It contains Omega-7s
You’ve likely heard of Omega-3s and 6s. These nutrients are all the rage these days, so chances are you take steps to incorporate them into your diet through food or supplementation. But have you heard of Omega-7s?
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t. It was news to me, too. This essential fatty acid can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve liver function, and help you lose weight. Studies have also shown that Omega-7s can help improve complexion by nourishing your skin cells – which explains why Sea Buckthorn is a common ingredient in skin creams.
Here’s an interesting fact… if you type “omega-7 into the Google search bar, a picture of Sea Buckthorn appears. It goes without saying, then, that this little super fruit is a good source of this nutrient. Certain types of fish such as salmon and sardines contain high amounts of Omega-7s but, if you’re vegan, these options are off the table. Macadamia nuts and pomegranate seed oil are good alternative, but nothing is as rich in Omega-7s as our friend the Sea Buckthorn.
2. It offers support for people with diabetes
In 2010, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition measured the effects of sea buckthorn oil on insulin levels. Researchers discovered that the plant’s extracts helped maintain normal blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. How? Quite simply, it works to minimize drastic spikes and drops in blood sugar after meals.
3. It can reduce adrenal fatigue
Adrenal fatigue is difficult to define. Essentially, your adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones that keep your system running efficiently. When these hormones aren’t produced at a normal rate – for a number of reasons such as stress, lack of a certain nutrient, a compromised immune system, etc. – your body and brain will start to feel the effects of adrenal fatigue. Symptoms can include mild depression, reduced sex drive, mood swings, lack of energy, weight gain and skin issues.
As a result of its omega-7 content, Sea Buckthorn can help prevent or reverse adrenal fatigue. It helps support your body in the healing process, speeding recovery and replenishing your energy levels.
4. It improves skin
As mentioned above, the rare omega-7 content in Sea Buckthorn offers many benefits for your skin. Besides working from the inside out, the oil can be used topically in lotion form, helping to form collagen, which keeps skin firm and reduces wrinkles. It’s also great for irritated skin, as its high levels of antioxidants and Omega-3s reduce inflammation, redness and itching, while Vitamin E promotes natural healing.
5. Antioxidants galore!
As you may know, antioxidants help your body by combating free radicals that cause infection and inflammation. Many foods, including oils, contain antioxidants. But studies show that pure Sea Buckthorn oil contains a higher concentration of antioxidants carotenoids – the yellow-orange pigment found naturally in some fruits and vegetables that serve an important antioxidant purpose – than any other oil.
So why is this important? As mentioned above, antioxidants help break down free radicals in the body. You’re exposed to free radicals on a daily basis through the unhealthy foods that you consume, the polluted air that you breathe, and the conventional medicine that you’re prescribed for your health – ironic, isn’t it? The antioxidants found in Sea Buckthorn, therefore, can help prevent chronic illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and even mood disorders. They also boost your immunity by protecting the body from infections.
6. Stomach ache?
Drinking Sea Buckthorn berry juice has been shown to offer relief from upset stomach and constipation. On top of calming inflammation associated with the pain, it also helps heal the lining of your stomach and gives you a boost of Vitamin C which aids in digestive health. Suffer from Irritable Bowel Sydrome? Talk to your doctor about Sea buckthorn.
- Sea Buckthorn berries are smaller than blueberries, but contain 12 times the amount of vitamin C as an orange.
- According to Greek legend, war torn horses were set free to die. To the soldiers’ surprise, the horses returned from forests – that they later discovered contained sea buckthorn – stronger than ever with radiant, shiny fur. For this reason they named the plant Hippophae Rhamnoides, which means “tree that makes horses shine”.
- Extracting the oil from Sea Buckthorn is a difficult process, which is why it’s so expensive to buy.
- The high vitamin C content in Sea Buckthorn helps your body absorb iron… vegans, take note!
Finding a Sea Buckthorn supplement that’s right for you
As a supplement, Sea Buckthorn can be taken in two forms: seed oil or fruit oil. Besides being slightly different in color, the two version of this plant boast many nutritional differences. While the fruit oil contains Omega 7, Sea Buckthorn seed oil is better known for its Omega-3, 6 and 9 content.
I’d advise doing some additional research before making an investment. Whichever option you choose (note: some supplements contain both the fruit oil and the seed oil) keep in mind that both options are rich in a variety of nutrients not mentioned here including numerous minerals, folic acid, flavonoids, phenols and vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, E, K and P.
If you want to supplement with Sea Buckthorn, avoid juices, which tend to have a low dose of the plant. Instead, opt for a pill. Look for a company that extracts the oil using a process that preserves the plant’s nutrients. Each pill should contain at least 1000 milligrams of pure sea buckthorn per serving. Take once or twice daily, or as direction by your doctor. And, as with everything, keep in mind that it will likely take a month or more to notice any affects!