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Sea Buckthorn
Latin Name:

Hippophae rhamnoides

Family:

Elaeagnaceae

Introduction

Sea buckthorn is a deciduous, hardy, thorny shrub native to Asia and Europe, and typically found on slopes, riverbanks, and seashores.1,2  It produces yellow-green flowers in the spring followed by yellow and orange fruits that have a passion fruit flavor when sweetened.1  

History and Cultural Significance

For over a thousand years, preparations made from sea buckthorn have been used medicinally in Mongolia, China and Tibet.2  The first documented benefits of sea buckthorn were recorded in the classic 8th century CE Tibetan medical text rGyud Bzi (The four Books of Pharmacopoeia). Young branches and leaves were used in ancient Greece as horse feed which resulted in weight gain and a healthy shine to the horse’s coat, and accounts for the genus name, Hippophae (shining horse). Russian researchers have investigated active compounds in the plant’s fruits, leaves, and bark since the 1940s. Russian cosmonauts incorporated the fruit into their diet and the oil into a cream in the belief that they would help protect the cosmonauts from solar radiation. Since the early 1980s over 200,000 acres have been planted in China, with about 150 processing plants producing over 200 industrial and consumer products such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Sea buckthorn fruit is an official medicine in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia where it is used internally for expelling phlegm, stopping cough, improving digestion, and promoting blood flow. The oil is used in cosmetic skin-regenerating compositions and as a natural plasticizer and emulsifier.2  Sea buckthorn is high in vitamin A and C,1,3  protein, fatty acids,4  carotene,5  and vitamin E.6  The fruit is used to make marmalades, syrup, fruit flavored herb teas, liquors and vitamin supplements.

Modern Research

Sea buckthorn also has environmental value. Between 1950 and 1985, 200,000 hectares (just over 494,210 acres) of sea buckthorn were planted in China for erosion control and fuel wood production.7  It is being used to reclaim wasteland and mined areas in Canada, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Russia.

Future Outlook

Research has shown that sea buckthorn taken internally may help support cardiovascular health.8  

References

1  Bown D. The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses. London: Dorling Kindersley Ltd.; 2001.

2  Li TSC, Beveridge THJ. Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): Production and Utilization. Ottawa: NRC Research Press; 2003.

3  Bruneton J, ed. Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. 2nd ed. Paris: Lavoisier;1999.

4  Solonenko L.P., Shishkina E.E. Proteins and amino acids in sea buckthorn fruits. Biologiya, Khimiya I Farmakologiya Oblepikhi. 1983;67-82. Cited in Li TSC, Beveridge THJ. Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): Production and Utilization. Ottawa: NRC Research Press; 2003.

5  Kostryrko DR. Introduction of useful plants into the Donetsk Botanic Garden of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Introd Akklimat Rast.1990;14:31-34. (from Hortic. Abst. 61: 3368). Cited in Li TSC, Beveridge THJ. Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): Production and Utilization. Ottawa: NRC Research Press; 2003.

6  Bernath J., Foldesi D., Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhaminoides L.): A promising new medicinal and food crop. J Herbs Spices Med Plants. 1992;1:27-35. Cited in Li TSC, Beveridge THJ. Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): Production and Utilization. Ottawa: NRC Research Press; 2003.

7  Schroeder WR, Yao Y. Sea-buckthorn a promising multi-purpose crop for Saskatchewan. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Available at: Http://www.agr.gc.ca/pfra/shelterbelt/shbpub62.htm. Accessed July 4, 2005.

8  Wang B, Feng Y, Yu Y, Zhang H, Zhu R. Effects of total flavones of Hippophae rhamnoides L. (sea buckthorn) on cardiac function and hemodynamics in healthy human subjects. Translation from the original Chinese provided by Rich Nature Nutroceutical Laboratories, Inc.[http://www.richnature.com/products/herbal/articles/heart.pdf]2001. Cited in Li TSC, Beveridge THJ. Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): Production and Utilization. Ottawa: NRC Research Press; 2003.

9  Singh V. Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) A wonder plant of dry temperate Himalayas. In Proceedings of an International Workshop on Sea Buckthorn. A Resource for Health and Environment in the Twenty First Century, Februaury 18-21, 2001, New Delhi, India. 39-42. Cited in Li TSC, Beveridge THJ. Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): Production and Utilization. Ottawa: NRC Research Press; 2003.

10  Xu M, Qian ZH, Sun P. A survey of medical research of Hippophae rhaminoides L. in China. In Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Sea Buckthorn, October 19-23, 1989, Xi’an, China. 329-332. Cited in Li TSC, Beveridge THJ. Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): Production and Utilization. Ottawa: NRC Research Press; 2003.

11  Zhong F. Study on the immunopharmacology of the components extracted from Hippophae rhamnoides L. In Proceedings of the First Symposium on Sea Buckthorn, October 19-23, 1989, Xi’an, China. 1989; pp.368-370.

12  Yang B, Kalimo KO, Mattila LM, Kallio SE, Katajisto JK, Peltola OJ, Kallio HP. Effects of dietary supplementation with sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) seed and pulp oil on atopic dermatitis. J Nutr Biochem. November 1999;10(11):622-30. Cited in Li TSC, Beveridge THJ. Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): Production and Utilization. Ottawa: NRC Research Press; 2003.