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Sea-Buckthorn oil: Nature's anti-oxidant cocktail

In recent years people have discovered the many potential benefits of antioxidants in the diet, and the pharmaceutical industry has raced to synthesize more and more powerful varieties of them. But in chasing new discoveries we have forgotten a time-honored natural source of antioxidants: Sea-Buckthorn berries


ow gardening may save your life. (a personal story)
This is a story about my mother. She is 75 years old, and retired now, but she has always been fond of gardening.
Quite a few years ago, we had a problem in one part of our garden. The soil was very poor, and often it would blow all over the place. Nothing would grow there.
Eventually, a friend suggested we should try the Sea-Buckthorn bush, a hardy plant which grows in dry soil. We had to plant at least two bushes - male and female - to ensure a supply of berries, which (he said) had very healthful and even miraculous herbal properties. It sounded rather exotic, but we decided to try it; and it (they) seemed to thrive. It certainly lived up to its name - it had thorns enough to deter even the most thick-skinned buck. The bushes grew quite large, and every autumn we had a good crop of berries; but these were rather a disappointment. They looked pretty on the bush, oval-shaped and a bright orange colour. But it was difficult to harvest them and, after that, we couldn't really see what the fuss was about. They didn't have much flavour, and they weren't even particularly sweet. So in the end we left the bushes alone.
To return to my mother. About two years ago, she suddenly developed quite a sizeable skin-tumor, on the back of her neck. We begged her to see the doctor, but she wouldn't; she doesn't like to use medicines. At last, she remembered our friend's stories about the wonder-working berries, and decided to give them a try. So, every day, she applied an external compress of the pulped berries. And six months later, when I saw her again, I was quite amazed when she showed me that the tumor had completely gone!

After this I decided to find out more about Sea-Buckthorn. It seems that it was already known in Ancient Greek times. It is also called "Sallow Thorn", presumably from the berries which can stain the skin yellow (they have been used to make pigments and dyes). Sea-Buckthorn's Latin name is Hippophae rhamnoides L., translated to mean "giving light to a horse" (hippos - horse, phaos - light); refer- , to its reputed power of curing blindness in horses (- well, who am I to argue). It is native to Europe and some northern regions of Asia, but is cultivated elsewhere too.

Sea Buckthorn (English), Sanddorn (German), Argousier (French), Finbar (Swedish), Homoktövis (Hungarian), Star-Bu or Dhar-Bu (Tibetan), Oblepiha (Russian), Tindved (Danish), Rokitnik (Polish)

What is the secret?
Sea-Buckthorn berries have a unique composition, combining a cocktail of components usually only found separately. The content of vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids reads like the label on a pack of multi-vitamin pills. The vitamin C content is among the highest for any plant (4th after rose-hips, hot chili pepper and sweet red pepper), while for vitamin E it takes 2- nd place around the other "champions" are all nuts and seeds with a high fat content. Sea-Buckthorn berries also have a high content of b-carotene (see Tables 1 and 2). The beta-carotene content is what gives the berries their colour, which can vary from yellow to red depending on the variety. All of these components are classified as natural anti-oxidants, which form a vital part of the body's defense system.

CONTENT OF VITAMINS C, E and b-carotene per 100 g (Table 1)

Beta-carotene (RE) Vitamin C (mg) Vitamin E (mg)
Carrots 1500
Rose-hips 430
Sweet red peppers 350
Sea-Buckthorn berries 270
Apricots 250
Pumpkin 250
Tomatoes 200
Persimmon 200
Rose-hips 650
Hot Chili peppers 360
Sweet red peppers 250
Sea-Buckthorn berries 220
Blackcurrants 200
Guavas 180
Kiwi 74
Wheatgerm oil 190
Sea-Buckthorn berries* 180
Sunflower oil 50
Sunflower seeds 50
Almonds 24
Filbert nuts 24
Palm oil 22
* 80% from D-alpha-tocopherol

Wonder-working berries
Despite the wide area where Sea-Buckthorn grows, few people in Europe or America make use of its medicinal properties. But in some countries like Tibet, China, Russia and Ukraine, Sea-Buckthorn oil is a popular home-made ointment for minor cuts, sunburn, and skin irritation; and its curative properties have been confirmed by scientific research. If you are able to harvest some Sea-Buckthorn berries, you can try preparing the oil yourself. (see left green box)

Why do we need anti-oxidants?
Smoking, drinking alcohol, exposure to environmental pollutants, and also exposure to ultraviolet light or nuclear radiation can all trigger the production of "free radicals" on the skin's surface, or inside the body. Free radicals are very simple compounds of oxygen, in which the innocent molecule has acquired an extra electron. Free radicals are very reactive particles and they aggressively attack all the surrounding molecules within the cell. The attacked molecules are oxidized, becoming structurally damaged and even making them toxic for the body. Vitamins with antioxidant properties form a natural line of defense against free radicals; they "catch" free radicals and neutralize them. These anti-oxidant vitamins, all present in Sea-Buckthorn oil, are vitamin A (derived from -carotene), vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin E (-tocopherol).

Active ingredients of Sea-Buckthorn berries
typical amounts per 100 g of fresh berries (Table 2)
* vitamin E (up to 180 mg)

* vitamin C (50-900 mg)

* vitamin A (up to 60 mcg)

* carotenoids: beta-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene (total 60-180 mg)

* vitamin B1 (up to 35 mcg)

* vitamin B2 (up to 55 mcg)

* folate (up to 80 mcg )

* fruit acids: chiefly malic acid, also acetic acid and quinic acid

* flavonoids: in particular kaempferol, isorhamnetin as well as quercetin tri- and tetra-glycosides

* carbohydrates  (up to 3.6g)

* essential minerals: K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Cr and Se

* amino-acids (proteins)

* unsaturated and saturated fatty-acids (in the seeds 12%; in the pulp 9% of total): oleic, isolinoic, linoleic and stearic acids

For busy people
For those of us not lucky enough to have a Sea-Buckthorn bush, or with no time to prepare the oil ourselves, fortunately it is available in ready-prepared form; as a liquid for use on the skin, or as capsules for internal use. The finished product is more often blended with an oil such as sunflower oil, olive oil and almond oil. Also on the market you can find a very concentrated extract (not blended), used by manufacturers of cosmetics and other products. Sea-buckthorn oil standardized using carotenoids (not less than 170mg% and maximum 300-420mg%) and sum of tocoferols (not less than 110mg%).
The purity is very important; not every product is of a good standard. But some high-quality products I have found in Eastern Europe (try to find here). It does not contain any preservatives or chemical stabilizers. Amount of carotenoids is no more than 130 mg%. The suggested dosage is 1 t.spoon 2-3 times per day.

For Do-It-Yourself enthusiasts

Home prepared Sea-Buckthorn oil

Wash the berries, and press to remove juice (they are very soft and squashy).
Drain the mass of pulp, seeds and skins and blend it in a food processor. Mix olive oil (or sunflower oil, or almond oil) with the blended mass (2 parts oil to 3 parts blended pulp) and leave for 3 weeks in a dark place at room temperature (25oC), re-mixing occasionally. After this time, carefully pour off the oil layer and store in a bottle, preferably in a dark, cool place. The oil incorporates the vitamins and bio-active components from the berries, and with suitable storage will keep its healing activity for a long time.

Sea-Buckthorn juice: healthy and refreshing

For a healthy and refreshing drink, blend the fresh juice and pulp from the berries with water (1:1), or with water and apple juice (1:1:1).
You get a refreshing drink with a pastel-orange colour and a delicate aromatic aroma. But remember that the berries have an oily component (9%) which will separate on standing; you may want to re-blend the juice shortly before drinking


More herbal recipes

Sea-Buckthorn oil for a healthy body and healthy skin

For a healthy bodily system
Infection prophylaxis:
reinforces the body's defenses

Sea-Buckthorn oil is very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotenes, flavanoids, and other bioactive compounds. Sea-Buckthorn oil increases the capability of the body's immune-system and can prevent vitamin A deficiency in the body. Also has an antibacterial action; inhibits the growth of staphylococci and other bacteria. These effects are especially valuable at the end of a long winter, in the treatment of colds, febrile conditions, exhaustion, also during periods of convalescence.
Promotes healthy arteries
Retards the development of atherosclerosis and cardiac disorders. Sea-Buckthorn oil are also a fairly good source of essential unsaturated fatty acids, that is important for regulation of prostaglandin synthesis. Prostaglandins regulates blood pressure and water-salt balance. Their role was emphasized in many scientific researches. Sea-Buckthorn oil contains 35-60% of Palmitoleic acid, 5-35% butyric oil acid and 0-15% linoleic acid. So high content of essential fatty acids is fairly uncommon for a fruit. Usually oils, animals fats and fish oils have these acids.
Anti-Cancer activity
Anti-tumor activity of Sea-buckthorn was demonstrated in many scientific works. Just mention one of them. Chinese scientists Li Y and Liu H from Shanxi Medical College, Taiyuan, China published an article (IARC Sci. Publ. 1991; 105, 568-70) in which three group of rats were fed a diet containing carcinogens: First group (control) drunk a tap-water, second group drunk water with Vitamin C and the third group drunk water together with sea-buckthorn juice. The result were intrigues. The average life span of rats in a group given sea-buckthorn juice was 270 days, when given ascorbic acid - 220 days and in control group only 195 days. Moreover microscopic examinations of the liver (main target of carcinogens) showed that sea-buckthorn juice can prevent tumor production more effectively comparing with ascorbic acid solutions and pure water.
Regenerative effects
These were discovered during experiments on patients with skin defects. Promotes recovery from colitis, healing of erosion of the cervix, of stomach and duodenal ulcers, and of burns affecting the mucous membranes. Also speeds recovery from external wounds and sores, e.g. bedsores.

For healthy skin - a valuable external nutrient and ointment

As a skin nutritive and restorative
Such anti-oxsidants like vitamin E and beta-corotene effectively combat wrinkles, dryness, and other symptoms of aging or of a neglected skin. That is why Sea-Buckthorn oil delays the aging process externally and enternally. Sea buckthorn oil enhances the regeneration of mucus membranes benefiting people from menopausal women to vegetarians who do not have a good level of fatty acids in their diet.

As a healing ointment
The oil can be used as an ointment to promote healing of burns (including sunburn), eczema, radiation injury ulcers and small cuts or abrasions. This healing effect is due to the beta-carotene (provitamin-A) that is in Sea-Buckthorn oil. The oil should be applied to the skin after washing and drying, and left for at least 20 minutes before removal. For best results, apply in the evening and leave overnight. However, remember that it will probably leave a temporary slight yellow-orange stain - so try and apply evenly!
Sea-Buckthorn oil is also prescribed to treat gynecological problems such as virginities and cervical erosion. The treating for gynecological disorders and rectum fissure, applied in the form of tampons soaked in Sea-Buckthorn oil. The procedure is repeated until the injury heals.

Other applications of Sea-buckthorn

Firstly in food industry in the production of juices with tonic effect, syrups and concentrates. The fresh berries are astringent and it is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers.
As a natural vitaminC additive and aroma for fruit and vegetables preserves. As ingredient in sauces and in the production of confectionary and aromas. Sea-buckthorn also used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. By NE.

more about unsaturated acids 1

more about unsaturated acids 2

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