Seabuckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides)
It is intriguing to wonder that the berries of
(Hippophae Rhamnoides) are so rich in vitamins and nutrients some have speculated
that the plant may have been cultivated by some ancient plant-breeder.
Seabuckthorn is the stuff of legends!
Legends about Seabuckthorn tell us how the ancient
Greeks used it in a diet for race horses, hence it's botanical name "Hippophae"
- shiny horse. According to another legend, Seabuckthorn leaves were the preferable
food of flying horse - Pegasus. One of the most striking legends refers to the custom
in some ancient kingdoms to execute convicts by dropping them into barrel of boiling
oil. The legend tells that if the oil in the barrel was substituted by the Seabuckthorn
oil, the convict had a chance to survive. That last characteristic of Seabuckthorn
has not been recently tested, but clinical trials and scientific studies conducted
during the 20th century in several countries confirm medicinal and nutritional value
of Seabuckthorn. Sea Buckthorn was added to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia in 1977.
The references to medicinal use of Seabuckthorn were found in the Ancient Greek
texts attributed to Theophrastus and Dioskorid and in classic Tibetan medicinal
texts, including "the RGyud Bzi" (The Four Books of Pharmacopoeia) dated to the
times of Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). Herbal remedies made of Seabuckthorn are most
frequently used for the treatment of diseases of skin and digestive system. Traditional
use of Seabuckthorn oil to promote the recuperation of skin injuries and support
the healing of skin diseases well agrees with the data of modern clinical studies.
Medicinal value of Seabuckthorn oil is associated with its apparent ability to
promote the regeneration of the skin and mucous membranes. Seabuckthorn oil is widely
used to promote the recovery of various skin conditions, including eczema, burns,
bad healing wounds, skin damaging effects of sun, therapeutic radiation treatment
and cosmetic laser surgery. The preparations from the berries are also utilized
to prevent gum bleeding, to help recuperate mucous membranes of the stomach and
other organs. Cosmetics and skin care products made of Seabuckthorn are valued for
their rejuvenating, restorative and anti-aging action.
Seabuckthorn is a traditional medicinal plant in many European and Asian countries.
It's popularity in America is somewhat delayed, due to the fact that Seabuckthorn
is not native to this continent. Interestingly enough, many medicinal plants were
brought over the centuries to the New World by the immigrants. Similarly, Seabuckthorn
was, apparently, taken to America by Russian immigrants at the beginning of 20th
The Seabuckthorn industry has been thriving in Russia since the 1920's when scientists
there began investigating the biologically active substances found in the fruit,
leaves and bark. The first Russian factory for sea-buckthorn product development
was located in Biysk. These products were utilized in the diet of Russian cosmonauts
and as a cream for protection from cosmic radiation. The Chinese experience with
sea-buckthorn fruit production is more recent, although traditional uses date back
many centuries. Research and plantation establishment were initiated in the 1980's.
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a very common
shrub which is grown worldwide in temperate to cold climates. Its name literally
translates to “shining horse”. Horses were fed sea buckthorn to improve the condition
of their coats. It is often planted as an ornamental or as a wind break plant because
it is very easy to cultivate and requires very little input.
Agricultural plantings are rare because of the difficulty
of harvesting the berries. Although the berries persist on the plant over winter,
the berries must be harvested by hand during a 2 week period for use in oil and
juice production. The plant’s long thorns make harvest difficult accounting for
almost 2/3 of the cost of the berries.
Expected yields are around 11 to 15 lb. per plant
or 1.8 to 2.2 tons/acre. The bulk of agricultural production occurs in Eastern Europe,
Northern Europe and China. Canada is attempting to emerge as a producer too because
the plant is already widely distributed though out the Prairies.
The fruit of the sea buckthorn plant yields 60% to
85% juice. The juice is very high in organic acids and has a low pH (near 2.7).
Protein levels are fairly high for a fruit juice High Vitamin C (0.6 %) and Vitamin
E (0.16%) contents have been reported in the juice. Both the pulp and seeds contain
triglyceride oils with important medicinal value.
There are two sources of oil in sea buckthorn fruit.
The seeds contain 10%-15% oil and the pulpy fruit contains 29%-48% oil. The oils
vary in vitamin E content depending upon how they are derived. The range is from
0.2 to 0.6 %. Carotenoid content also varies depending upon the source of the oil.
The seed oils contain 73% or more of the unsaturated linoleic or linolenic fatty
acids. Pulp oil contains more saturated fatty acids with about 38% palmitic acid
and 14%-50% palmitoleic acid. The essential fatty acids in Sea Buckthorn oil are
very rare, and are required for good health.
Phytosterols are the major constituents of the unsaponifiable
fraction of sea buckthorn oils. The major phytosterol in sea buckthorn oil is sitosterol,
with 5-avenasterol second in quantitative importance. Other phytosterols are present
in relatively minor quantities. The phytosterol content is quite high in sea buckthorn
oil and exceeds that of soybean oil by up to 20 times. Because of the unusual composition
of Sea Buckthorn oil, it is often thought of as an essential oil rather than a fixed