Nutrients and Potential Health Effects - Sea-buckthorn berries are edible, nutritious and tart and can be mixed as a drink with sweeter juices or added to smoothies or culinary delights such as chocolates, pies, salsa, sorbets, cocktails, muffins, seafood and meat dishes, and the list goes on and on.
When the berries are pressed, the resulting sea-buckthorn juice separates into three layers: on top is a thick, orange cream; in the middle, a layer containing sea-buckthorn's characteristic high content of saturated and polyunsaturated fats; and the bottom layer is sediment and juice.
Containing fat sources applicable for cosmetic purposes, the upper two layers can be processed for skin creams and liniments, whereas the bottom layer can be used for edible products.
Nutrient and phytochemical constituents of sea-buckthorn berries are under basic research in inflammatory disorders, cancer mechanisms or positive effect on bone marrow after chemotherapy, or other diseases.
The fruit of the plant has a high vitamin C content – about 15 times greater than oranges or higher dependant on variety – placing sea-buckthorn fruit among the most enriched plant sources of vitamin C. The fruit also contains dense contents of carotenoids, vitamin E, amino acids, dietary minerals, β-sitosterol and polyphenols. Flavonols were found to be the predominating polyphenols while phenolic acids and flavanols (catechins) represent minor components. Of the seven flavonols identified, isorhamnetin 3-O-glycosides were highest quantitatively.
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Sea-buckthorn is also a popular garden and landscaping shrub with an aggressive basal shoot system used for barrier hedges and windbreaks, and to stabilize riverbanks and steep slopes. They have value in northern climates for their landscape qualities, as the colorful berry clusters are retained through winter. Branches may be used by florists for designing ornaments. It dislikes much trimming. A very thorny plant, it quickly makes an impenetrable barrier. Sea buckthorn has an extensive root system and suckers vigorously and so has been used in soil conservation schemes, especially on sandy soils. The fibrous and suckering root system acts to bind the sand. Because the plant grows quickly, even in very exposed conditions, and also adds nitrogen to the soil, it can be used as a pioneer species to help the re-establishment of woodland in difficult areas. Because the plant is very light-demanding it will eventually be out-competed by the woodland trees and so will not out-stay its welcome.
Different parts of sea-buckthorn have been used as traditional therapies for diseases.
Bark and leaves have been used for treating diarrhea and dermatological disorders. Berry oil, either taken orally or applied topically, is believed to be a skin softener.
In Indian, Chinese and Tibetan medicines, sea-buckthorn fruit may be added to medications in belief it affects pulmonary, gastrointestinal, cardiac, blood or metabolic disorders. Basic research using leaf extracts as a model of tea consumption showed potential anti-obesity properties in mice.
The seeds contain 12 - 13% of a slow-drying oil. The vitamin-rich fruit juice is used cosmetically in face-masks etc. A yellow dye is obtained from the fruit. A yellow dye is obtained from the stems, root and foliage. A blackish-brown dye is obtained from the young leaves and shoots. Wood - tough, hard, very durable, fine-grained. Used for fine carpentry, turning etc. The wood is also used for fuel and charcoal.
Reference: PFAF Plant Database.
Sea-buckthorn fruit can be used to make pies, jams, lotions, fruit wines and liquors. The juice or pulp has other potential applications in foods or beverages. In Mongolia, it is made into a juice drink, with concentrates also available. In Finland, it is used as a nutritional ingredient in baby food.
Fruit drinks were among the earliest sea-buckthorn products developed in China. Seabuckthorn-based juice is popular in Germany and Scandinavian countries. It provides a nutritious beverage, rich in vitamin C and carotenes.
For its troops confronting extremely low temperatures (see Siachen), India's Defence Research Development Organization established a factory in Leh to manufacture a multi-vitamin herbal beverage based on sea-buckthorn juice.
The seed and pulp oils have nutritional properties that vary under different processing methods. Sea-buckthorn oils are used as a source for ingredients in several commercially available cosmetic products and nutritional supplements.
Medicinal Uses -The twigs and leaves contain 4 - 5% tannin. They are astringent and vermifuge. The tender branches and leaves contain bio-active substances which are used to produce an oil that is quite distinct from the oil produced from the fruit. Yields of around 3% of oil are obtained.
This oil is used as an ointment for treating burns. A high-quality medicinal oil is made from the fruit and used in the treatment of cardiac disorders, it is also said to be particularly effective when applied to the skin to heal burns, eczema and radiation injury, and is taken internally in the treatment of stomach and intestinal diseases.
The fruit is astringent and used as a tonic. The freshly-pressed juice is used in the treatment of colds, febrile conditions, exhaustion etc. The fruit is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds.
It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit.
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.
The juice is also a component of many vitamin-rich medicaments and cosmetic preparations such as face-creams and toothpastes. A decoction of the fruit has been used as a wash to treat skin irritation and eruptions.
Check with your Dr. before adding Sea Buckthorn to your health toolkit.