What Is Sea Buckthorn
The health benefits of sea buckthorn are so important, and so diverse, that sometimes it is compared to Ginseng. The tiny orange berry, with a strong sour taste is nothing short of a nature's miracle. North America is catching up with information that in Asia and Europe is common knowledge. In fact there are quite large plantations both in Canada and US, but its not at the level from Europe, where the demand is growing.
If you are expecting sea buckthorn to be a sweet berry, you'll be disappointed; there is no sweetness in a sea buckthorn. Some varieties are less acidic than others, but all varieties need some sugar to make them palatable. There is A Russian variety is called the Siberian pineapple, and this gives you an idea of how all varieties taste, if you never tried it. The berries also contain an oil that has a strong, specific taste, that many people don't appreciate. That's why the sea buckthorn oil is sold in capsules. Other people, like my son, enjoy the oil neat, (and he is a picky eater).
The sea buckthorn plant is a deciduous shrub in the family Elaeagnaceae, (Hippophae rhamnoides), and it is native in Europe and Asia. The shrubs are dense and thorny, and the berries are mostly bright orange, but the color can range from yellow, to red.
Hippophae rhamnoides, the Latin name of sea buckthorn means "shining horse". According to history, the ancient Greeks found that after a war, the abandoned wounded horses survived miraculously after wandering for a long time in a sea buckthorn jungle. The horses returned even stronger looking better than before. Based on this story, the fruit has the botanical name Hippophae Rhamnoides, or shiny horse.
Even the ancient Mongolian literature mentions that horse riders in ancient times would set free their sick horses into the seaberry shrubberies of highlands. Days later, horses living on sea berry fruits and leaves became strong and shining. Mongolians named the fruit "The Holy Fruit".
Nutritional Value of Sea Buckthorn
The Fruit with the Most Vitamin C
Sea buckthorn is actually the fruit with the second most vitamin C content per 100gr, with 400 to 800 mg. The first on the list is Acerola with an impressive 1600 mg and the third on the list is guava, with an astounding 280 mg. It might not seem much compared to Acerola, but when we compare these numbers with oranges, touted as a great source of vitamin C, we are amazed to realize that sea buckthorn has 8 to 16 times more vitamin C than oranges, with a modest 53 mg per 100gr of fruit. Impressive, isn't it?
Another impressive component is the beta-carotene with a range of 0.2 mg to 17 mg per 100gr of fruit, compared to carrots with 8 mg. When you pick, or buy your berries, make sure you select the orange ones, those contain more beta-carotene. This wonder berry also contains other carotenoids among which: alpha carotene, delta carotene, gamma carotene, lutein, lycopene, beta cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, taraxanthin and phytofluene. Carotenoids are a safe way to supplement with vitamin A without the risk of overdosing.
Ready for some more surprises? Here they are, sea buckthorn is on the third place on top of the highest sources of Vitamin E, and contains omega 3, 6, 9, and even the very rare omega 7, (palmitoleic acid).
There are so many great things about sea buckthorn that one could write a book about it. Here are some more numbers:
- dry matter - 13-20%
- water - 85%
- sugars - 0.05-0.5%
- organic acids - 1.5-4%
- pectin - 0.14 to 0.5
- polyphenols and flavonoids - 1.8%
- cellulose, (fiber) - 1%
- protein - 1.2%
- a very complex oil - 8-12%
Minerals and trace minerals such as:
The interesting fact about sea buckthorn is that it contains both fat soluble and water soluble vitamins which is a paradox. The scientists discovered that this is possible because of very fine membranes in the berry's structure, that allow separation between them.
- vitamin A 380 mg%
- vitamin E 16 mg%
- vitamin F 8 mg%,
- vitamin D 20 mg%
- vitamin C 400-800 mg / 100 g
- vitamin P
- vitamin K
- vitamin B1-B9 360-2500 mg/100g
Health Benefits of Sea Buckthorn
Sea buckthorn is a great immunity booster, and virtually anyone can benefit it. Children 7 years or older adults, and senior can get a great boost of their immunity by having two teaspoons of the berry each day for two months. Omega 7, or palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid rarely found in our food, is a proven antibacterial and antifungal. Although its fungicidal and bactericidal properties are lower, compared to other fatty acids, (for instance lauric acid), the other properties of Omega 7, make it a great immunity booster. The sourness of the seaberry fruit is probably one of the most underrated benefits. For people with low stomach acid, seaberry offers the extra acid the body needs to maintain the proper ph in the stomach. An acidic medium helps to keep H. pylori, Candida albicans, and other opportunistic microorganisms in control.
One of the Most Powerful Antioxidants
The massive vitamin C quantity makes it a powerful antioxidant, and when we add in the equation the huge quantity of vitamin E, we have one of the most powerful antioxidant foods. The powerful antioxidative effect is reinforced by a great quantity of carotenoids in its composition, beta-carotene content being higher than in carrots.
A Great Natural Anti-inflammatory
The high content in fatty acids makes it a great anti inflammatory. The high content of omega 7 fatty acid, (also known as palmitoleic acid). However, fatty acids are just temporary solutions to the inflammation problem. They treat the symptom only, and not the cause. The beauty of sea buckthorn is that it is a powerful antioxidant which goes higher in the root/cause chain by scavenging free radicals, many times the real cause of inflammation. This combined action makes sea buckthorn so powerful, and it is the reason of its efficacy in treating so many inflammation related conditions, such as eczema and arthritis.
Are you convinced yet of the anti-inflammatory powers of this little orange berry? You probably are, but wait, there is even more. This superfood contains a lot of enzymes with marvelous antioxidant properties, so the combination of antioxidants is almost miraculous. Try it...
List of Health Benefits of Sea Buckthorn
- Lowers LDL - bad cholesterol, here is a scientific study.
- Raises HDL (good cholesterol)
- Lowers the risk of heart attack by lowering C-reactive protein (look at this article for evidence).
- Helps blood sugar regulation in diabetics (study)
- Improves digestion (read more about this...)
- Improve skin health, tone and appearance
- Alleviates acid reflux symptoms
- Improve hair and nail growth and look
- Helps with dry-eye syndrome (Sjogren’s Syndrome)
- Repairs mucous membranes. This is particularly important for those with major dysbiosis problems. One of the major problems when trying to heal dydbiosis is that the pathogen affect the intestinal lining, making it thin, and permeable. Sea buckthorn helps your intestine heal faster, while killing bad bacteria and yeast.
- Helps with weight loss. (Here is a study on rats to confirm its weight control efficacy.)
- Alleviates and keeps in control atopic dermatitis
- One of the best natural anti-inflammatories
- A great help for chronic costipation
- Speeds up skin burns and wounds
- It is very well known as a folk medicine for liver problems, but recent studies have proved it scientifically as well. Here is some more dry scientific data, for those interested.
Dr. Oz Video about Sea Buckthorn
Dr. Oz is a huge fan of natural remedies, and natural preventative medicine. He spoke about sea buckthorn in one of his shows. Here is what he has to say about it.
Sea Buckthorn - Sleep Regulator
Sea Buckthorn Contain Serotonin and Helps You Sleep Well
Well, for me, the effects on my sleep was a little surprise, since I didn't know anything about it. My sleep is decent, but I never sleep like I used to when I was young, that deep resting sleep, without interruptions. So imagine my surprise when I slept like a baby after getting my first dose of sea buckthorn in a few years.
Doing some research about this miracle berry, I discovered how it helps sleep. Sea buckthorn contains serotonin, (5-HT), which is a neurotransmitter, and it is found very rarely in nature. There are a few theories about how serotonin in sea buckthorn affects people who eat it. One theory is that by accumulating serotonin during the day we stimulate the production of melatonin at night. This explains how it affects our sleep. The really interesting thing about the serotonin in the berries, is that it acts as a synergist for the other healing substances. For instance, serotonin increases the anti-inflammatory effects. It is actually believed that many of the health benefits of sea buckthorn are in fact attributed to the considerable amount of serotonin, which is a rare occurrence in nature.
How To Use Sea Buckthorn
The best way to take it is fresh, as is, or crushed through a sieve to make a juice, or puree. If you can take it fresh, one way is to start with 1 berry in the first day, 2 berries in the second day, and so on until 31 days, when the dose is decreased by one berry each day. If you get side effects while increasing the dose, you should slightly decrease it, and continue with it for the rest of the cure. The fruit must be chewed properly and all parts of the berry should be eaten, from pulp to seed.
Another way is to get it as a juice. Take two teaspoons of pure juice, or the equivalent with honey, or sugar, every day for 65 days. To obtain the juice, just use a plastic strainer and a wooden spoon, and mash the fruits through the strainer until all the juice and pulp has separated from the peel and seeds.
Let the peel and seeds to dry for a few days, and then grind them, and blend them in a smoothie, or take them as is.
The easiest way is to take sea buckthorn oil, and the oil is amazing for many skin problems, and for immunity, but the whole fruit is better.
My favorite way to consume sea buckthorn is fermented with water kefir grains. The fermentation changes the strong sourness of sea buckthorn into a milder one, and it is very palatable. At the same time you keep all the important nutrients intact. Check this page if you want to try my recipe: How To Flavor Water Kefir.
Don't overdose on sea buckthorn, or you will have a loose stool or worse. Yet another argument for the health benefits of sea buckthorn, you must be already tired, but yes it is a prebiotic. Studies at Carleton University have shown that sea buckthorn can be used for creating functional foods, such as yogurt, stimulating the growth of bacteria in fermented milk. Here is the research thesis. In conclusion using it as a flavoring juice with your water kefir is not only delicious, but also increases the effectiveness of your probiotic soda.