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Sea BuckthornA Clinical Perspective

Sea buckthorn, Hippophe rhamnoides, is a shrub introduced from Eurasia. Sea buckthorn is very tolerant of weather extremes, growing in arid places where competition for nutrients with other plants is less. Its name likely derived from the preferential growing along the sea coast; however, it also grows in high altitudes in the alpine zone, requiring full sun. Sea buckthorn produces a yellowish-orange color berry that tastes very acidic and astringent; it does not contain anthocyanins like most other red to dark purple ones. The berries are rich in vitamins and oil. Particularly present are vitamins C and E and various carotenoids such as lycopene, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene; also present are polyphenols such as flavonoids and phytosterols; lignans of varying content, influenced by harvesting times, have been reported as well.1 The oil is rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), representing 80 to 95 percent of the oil content.

The berries are traditionally used for jams, juices, lotions and liquors while uses of the oil range from treating burn injuries to addressing inflammation and digestive disturbances. Recently sea buckthorn has been used as an ingredient in several cosmetic products to topically address wrinkles, dry skin or as an anti-aging ingredient. It is also being incorporated into dietary supplements, touted for lowering cholesterol and reducing blood clots.

Clinical evaluation of sea-buckthorn has been sparse. Two clinical studies showed sea buckthorn oil could be a useful adjuvant to laser and therapeutic endoscopy procedures,2 and may help reduce healing time of gastrointestinal ulcers.3 Clinical trials on the use of sea buckthorn in addressing burns and open wounds with compromised tissue integrity have determined topical use has definite healing effects.4,5 In cases of dermatitis, sea buckthorn oil derived from the seed and the fruit pulp of the berry need to be combined and ingested at relatively high dosing, 5 g/d, to observe noticeable improvements.6 Other topical applications of sea buckthorn oil—treating trophic ulcers of the lower extremities of different origins or treating oral periodontitis—have shown little, if any, efficacy.7,8

Clinical work on sea buckthorn's anti-inflammatory properties have reported a noted reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.9 It also appears to exert anti-blood clotting effects and antioxidant effects in protecting against oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.10 However, such outcomes require high oral dosing and other trials have not shown similar outcomes.11,12 A clinical study investigating sea buckthorn's prevention and treatment effects specifically for liver fibrosis showed promising results, albeit at a huge oral dosing of 15 g, 3 times per day.13

Clinical evaluation of this promising berry is insufficient at present; its health benefits rely mostly on its traditional use. Evidence does suggest potential usefulness for topical wound healing, but other health purported effects are yet to be proven with sufficient clarity.

References on the next page....

References for "Sea Buckthorn—A Clinical Persepective"

1. Yang B et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;54(21):8065-70.

2. Nikitin VA et al. Khirurgiia (Russian). 1989;(4):35-5.

3. Degtiareva II et al. Klin Med. 1991;69(7):38-42.

4. Kostrikova EV et al. Ortop Travmatol Protez. 1990;12:42-7.

5. Wang ZY et al. Nan Fang Yi Ke Da Xue Bao. 2006;26(1):124-5.

6. Yang B et al. J Nutr Biochem. 1999;10(11):622-30.

7. Nuzov BG et al. Morfologiia (Russian). 2003;124(5):31-3.

8. Mdinaradze N. Georgian Med News. 2006;135:60-3.

9. Larmo P et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008;62(9):1123-30.

10. Johansson AK et al. J Nutr Biochem. 2000;11(10):491-5.

11. Eccleston C et al. J Nutr Biochem. 2002;13(6):346-54.

12. Suomela JP et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;54(19):7364-9.

13. Gao ZL et al. World Gastroenterol. 2003;9(7):1615-7.

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