Russian and Chinese scientists place it in the top ten of the most powerful medicinal plants in the world. They argue that it contains more vitamin C than strawberry, kiwi, orange, tomato, carrot, and hawthorn. They also argue that its vitamin E content is higher than that of wheat, corn, and soybeans and that the phytosterols it contains exceed by far those of soybean oil. Moreover, it contains all the vitamins that make up the B Vitamin Complex and all the minerals and trace elements necessary for the body. And, it’s not only that. It provides unsaturated fatty acids, such as Omega 3-6-7-9 to the body. It has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, analgesic, and healing action. For all these reasons, it is used as a dietary supplement, as an ingredient in pharmaceutical and cosmetic formulations, and as an altered pharmaceutical formulation for a variety of diseases, while juices and jams are produced from its fruits.
How it was named
Even though sea buckthorn has only been used for the last two years in modern Greece, in ancient times its use was very popular. Such references can be found in texts of Theophrastus, a pupil of Aristotle, but mainly in Dioscorides texts, father of Pharmacology. Its name in Greek derives from the troops of Alexander the Great, who noticed that the sick and injured horses that ate the leaves and fruit of the plant recovered more quickly, gained more strength, while their coat grew stronger and became more shiny. They named it ippofaes (Hippophae), which in Modern Greek means bright, shiny horse (ippos: horse, faos: light, shine).
Older than the glaciers...
It is one of the most ancient plants on Earth. Its presence dates back long before the Ice Age. Its scientific name is: Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides). It grows even in the poorest soils and depending on the microclimate of each region, it is found in coastal areas, but also in semi-arid or mountainous areas. Its fruits resemble grapes, are orange in colour and juicy and have a sour taste. According to the “International Center for Research and Training on Seabuckthorn”, the plant grows and is cultivated in Europe and Asia. It is primarily found in the following countries: China, Mongolia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine, England, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. In Greece, it is cultivated in northern Euboea, in the Ahouria area.
Scientifically accepted in the classical Tibetan pharmaceutical bible “Sibu Yidian”, written in the 18th century, a total of thirty chapters are devoted to the healing properties and uses of the plant. In India, it is a key aspect of Ayurveda, and an integral part of Chinese pharmacology. In Mongolia, it has been used for centuries as an excellent tonic. Legend has it that Genghis Khan and his army drank juice from sea buckthorn to increase endurance and accelerate the healing of their wounds. In Russia, it has been used for many years as an ingredient of astronauts’ diet. The first biochemical analysis of its ingredients was performed in 1929. The first clinical trials on the plant’s therapeutic uses began in Russia in the 1950s. In the 1970s, the plant was included in the official list of drugs used in Russia and China, and in the following years, it was included in the official pharmaceutical lists of the countries where it is cultivated. There have been many studies, mainly in Russia and Asia, which have brought to light the abundance of nutrients contained in the plant and their beneficial effect on the human body.
It also heals... nature
Sea buckthorn’s dense root system and durability in arid and difficult conditions (cold, salt, poor soils) are the reasons that the shrub is planted systematically in burned areas to prevent soil erosion, such as in large areas of northern China, where its fruits are collected and generate income to local populations.
190 beneficial ingredients!
It is included in the category of “super foods”, some of which are: spirulina, aloe, pollen, ginseng, sugar cane wax, chlorella, rosemary essential oil. According to Russian and Chinese scientists, sea buckthorn contains 190 valuable nutrients, most of which have strong antioxidant activity. The majority and more effective of the nutrients (106) are found in the oil contained in its fruits. According to researchers, the most important scientific discovery for sea buckthorn is not only that it contains valuable substances for the human health, but also that both their concentration and combination are matched by nature in such a way as to offer optimal coverage to the human body.
Full of antioxidants
Sea buckthorn contains a unique combination of antioxidant ingredients that act preventively against aging, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Specifically, it contains among others:
Vitamin C: Contributes to iron absorption, helps in collagen formation in the skin, in wound healing, in tissue repair, and strengthens the body's immune system.
Vitamin E: Slows cell aging, helps in the oxygenation of the tissues, and strengthens the reproductive system. Accelerates wound healing, and protects against atherosclerosis.
Vitamin A: Maintains the health of the eyes and skin.
All minerals: Calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, potassium, selenium, and zinc. They are essential for mental and physical health. Like vitamins, they act as catalysts in many biological reactions and their functions are interrelated. Selenium and copper have a very powerful antioxidant action.
Carotenoids: Prevent cell oxidation and destruction to a great extent. Sea buckthorn contains beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, and lycopene (anticancer activity), alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin (prevention against senile macular degeneration), and lutein. Depending on the area it is cultivated, sea buckthorn often contains carotenoids in larger quantities than any other plant.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids: Specifically: Omega-3 (linolenic acid), Omega-6 (linoleic acid), Omega-7 (palmitoleic acid), Omega-9 (oleic acid). Sea buckthorn is considered by Russian and Chinese scientists as the richest source of fatty acids, which are essential to the body for the proper functioning of the brain, the nervous, immune and reproductive systems, and protect against cardiovascular diseases, reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood and have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. The Omega-7 fatty acid is mainly of animal origin. It has only been found in the macadamia oil, but in 2 times less concentrations than in sea buckthorn. The omega-7 has antiviral, antibacterial, healing, and anti-aging effects.
It is also a source of...
... vitamins of the B Vitamin Complex: They help in proper functioning
of the nervous and muscular systems, and the heart. They are involved in the synthesis of enzymes and the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. They help in the development and reproduction, caring for the health of hair, nails and skin.
... Vitamin D: It helps in the metabolism of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium in the body and their integration in the bones, contributing to their health.
... Vitamin K: It plays a key role in blood coagulation
and helps in bone formation and their reconstruction.
... Beta-sitosterol: It belongs to a group of sterols found only in plants. It has been shown that the sitosterol itself or in combination with other plant sterols reduces the levels of the bad cholesterol in the blood. Also, it acts to protect against prostatic hyperplasia, and there are indications that it protects against cancer.
... Flavonoids: These substances are only found in plants and have similar antioxidant properties as those of vitamins C, E, and A.
What it offers to the body
1. Stimulates, offers well-being and energy, rapid recovery, and healing of wounds.
2. Strengthens the immune system, protects against cancer.
3. Protects and strengthens the nervous system, reduces anxiety.
4. Regulates metabolism.
5. Treats prostate hyperplasia, liver diseases, and gastrointestinal problems such as ulcerative colitis, esophagitis, Crohn's disease.
6. Protects from cardiovascular problems, lowers bad cholesterol and sugar in the blood, protects blood vessels, enhances blood flow.
7. Relieves from the symptoms of menopause, menstrual pain and protects the reproductive system. 8. Repairs tissues and cells after long sun exposure.
9. Acts preventively against eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
10. Detoxes the body, oxygenates and renews cells, addresses premature aging.
11. Deals with skin problems such as acne, pigmentation, burns, psoriasis, eczema.
What you'll find on the market
Dried plant in shops that sell herbs, to make decoctions or infusions.
The oil of the plant that comes from the pressing of the fruit. It contains nutrients in their most potent form. It is mainly used to treat skin problems (external application) and to stimulate blood circulation (as a drink after dissolving it in water or juice).
Concentrated juice obtained by mashing the plant’s fruit and leaves and has a milder action than its oil. It is suitable for toning and strengthening the body.
Capsules: It is the dry extract of the plant’s leaves and fruits. It is easier to use and has good results. There are also capsules with sea buckthorn oil on the market.
Look for them in health food stores, large pharmacies or pharmacies that sell herbal medicinal and cosmetic preparations.
If you experience a health problem, you should first consult your physician to indicate the proper dosage for your case. Otherwise, if you just want to tone your body, you can drink a decoction or infusion 2-3 times a day or take 1 capsule daily. Alternatively, you can drink 2 teaspoons of syrup dissolved in a glass of juice or water 3 times a day. Use the oil only once you have consulted an expert. You should also use sea buckthorn from time to time, like all the other medicinal herbs, in all the forms that you can find on the market, so that your body can benefit at most from its nutrients.
How to make
Decoction: Pour 1 cup of water in a pot and add 4-5 sea buckthorn seeds. Boil the brew for 3-5 minutes, let it cool down and drink.
Infusion: Pour 1 cup of water in a pot and bring to boil, take off from heat and add 4-5 dried leaves. Leave for 5-7 minutes, strain and drink.
By Julie Apostolatou