Scientific Name(s): Hippophae rhamnoides L.
Common Name(s): Badriphal, Sea buckthorn
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 19, 2022.
Numerous pharmacological effects of sea buckthorn have been documented, including antimicrobial, antiulcerogenic, antioxidant, anticancer, radioprotective, and antiplatelet activities, as well as liver and cardiovascular protectant effects. It also has beneficial effects on skin and mucosa. Although sea buckthorn has been used in Asian medicine for thousands of years, there are limited quality clinical trials to support any of these uses.
Empirical healers have recommended approximately 20 g/day of fruit. In clinical trials, dosages of 5 to 45 g of freeze-dried sea buckthorn berries, puree, and seed or pulp oil have been used; sea buckthorn juice has been administered in volumes up to 300 mL daily over 8 weeks. Antimicrobial: 28 g/day for 90 days. Atopic dermatitis: 5 g/day of seed or pulp oil for 4 months. Cardiovascular risk factors: Oil or air-dried berries (equivalent to approximately 100 g/day fresh berries); or 300 mL of juice over 8 weeks. Dry eye: 1 g twice daily for 3 months. Liver disease: 15 g 3 times daily of sea buckthorn extract for 6 months. Platelet aggregation: 5 g/day of oil for 4 weeks. Postmenopausal symptoms: 1.5 g twice daily for 3 months. Renal disease: 350 mg of extract twice daily for 12 weeks; or 2 g/day of oil extract for 8 weeks.
None well documented.
Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy during pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented.
Carotenodermia, a nontoxic accumulation of carotenoids in the skin that manifests as a yellow to orange discoloration of the skin, can result from excessive consumption of sea buckthorn.
Sea buckthorn is a medium-sized, hardy, deciduous shrub that can grow between 2 and 6 m in height. It is found in the Northern Hemisphere along riversides, in mountainous areas, and in sandy and gravel ground at elevations of 3,300 to 4,500 m. The bark is thick and rough. Each leaf is elongate-oblanceolate or elongate-spatulate, green at the top, and silver-ash green on the underside. It flowers in April and the sour, pearl-shaped, yellowish-orange fruits are collected from August to October. There are 9 described subspecies.Guliyev 2004, Goel 2002, Yang 2001, Yang 2002, Yang 2002 The plant is naturally distributed in Central Asia, in Europe from the Black Sea coast to the Alps, and along the shores of northwestern Europe. It also is found in Canada and the United States.Yang 2001
Sea buckthorn has a rich history of use in treating numerous medical conditions. It has been called a "wonder" plant in many Asian countries, including China, India, and Pakistan. The berries have been used for more than 2,000 years as a medicine and food additive in Europe, Russia, and Asia.Singh 2013
Because of their hemostatic and anti-inflammatory effects, the fruits are added to prescriptions in Indian and Tibetan medicine to treat pulmonary, GI, cardiac (eg, ischemic heart disease), blood, hepatic, and metabolic disorders. Ancient Tibetan medical literature documents the use of sea buckthorn for fever, inflammation, toxicity, abscesses, cough, colds, clearing sputum, laxative purposes, tumors (particularly in the stomach and esophagus), and gynecological diseases.Guliyev 2004, Goel 2002 The flowers are used as a skin softener in Tajikistan.Guliyev 2004 In Mongolia, extracts from the leaves and branches of the plant are used medicinally to treat colitis and enterocolitis in humans and animals. In Middle Asia, the leaves are used to treat GI and skin disorders, and are topically applied to treat rheumatoid arthritis.Guliyev 2004, Goel 2002, Xing 2002 In traditional Chinese medicine, sea buckthorn has been used to aid digestion and treat cough, circulatory disorders, and pain,Guliyev 2004, Xing 2002, Yang 2001 and the aglycon isorhamnetin is a patented medicine for treating enteritis and ulcerative colitis.Zheng 2016
In Russia, the oil from the seeds and fruits has been used topically to treat chronic dermatoses, eczema, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, burns, frostbite, and cervical erosion. Oil from the fruit has been used to treat thrombosis. Oil extracts have been used in ophthalmology to treat keratitis, trachoma, conjunctivitis, and injuries or burns to the eyelid.Guliyev 2004
As an economic resource, sea buckthorn is used in a range of products, including oil, juice, cosmetics, shampoos, and as a food additive to candies and jellies. It has been planted extensively to help prevent soil erosion.Kallio 2002, Beveridge 1999
Sea buckthorn contains carotenoids, tocopherols, sterols, flavonoids, lipids, ascorbic acid, and tannins. The presence and/or concentration of various nutrients and bioactive constituents are impacted by cultivar genetics, including subspecies, cultivation methods, growth location, weather, and time of harvest.(Zheng 2016) Sea buckthorn has remarkably high quantities of both lipophilic antioxidants (mainly carotenoids and tocopherols) and hydrophilic antioxidants (flavonoids, tannins, phenolic acids, ascorbic acid).(Ciesarová 2020)
Flavonols in the leaves, fruit, or juice of sea buckthorn are noted for their antioxidant and anticarcinogenic activity.(Guliyev 2004, Häkkinen 1999, Rösch 2004, Rösch 2004, Hibasami 2005) Most occur as C-3 glucosides, rutinosides, and sophorosides. The common glycosides found in berries include those of quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin, whereas the most abundant aglycon is isorhamnetin.(Zheng 2016) The flavonol glycosides, sugars, and organic acids are preserved best in extracts and are present in comparable amounts to those in dried whole berries when the supercritical carbon dioxide extraction method without further ethanol extraction is used. However, this method removes the lipophilic compounds (ie, triacylglycerol, tocopherols, tocotrienols, carotenoids).(Linderborg 2012)
Flavan-3-ols found in sea buckthorn juice include (+) catechin (and +/- gallocatechin) and (-) epicatechin. Phenolic acids found in the leaves, juice, or fruit of sea buckthorn include gallic, protecatechuic, p-coumaric, ferulic, p-hydroxybenzoic, and ellagic acid.(Guliyev 2004, Rösch 2003) Tocopherols and tocotrienols in the fruit or seeds of sea buckthorn, collectively known as vitamin E, have antioxidant activity.(Guliyev 2004, Kallio 2002, Luhua 2004) Alpha-tocopherol has the highest antioxidant activity and is the most abundant tocopherol, comprising approximately 76% to 89% of the berry.
Carotenoids found in the fruit of sea buckthorn may decrease the risk for age-related macular degeneration and include alpha-, beta-, and gamma-carotene; lycopene; zeaxanthin; zeaxanthin dipalmitat; and beta-cryptoxanthin palmitate.(Guliyev 2004, Weller 2003, Kasparaviciene 2004, Pintea 2005) The antioxidant activity is more potent with extracted sea buckthorn oil because of higher carotenoid levels. Organic acids in sea buckthorn juice have been identified as oxalic, citric, tartaric, malic, quinic, and ascorbic.(Guliyev 2004)
Fatty acid composition differs between the seed oil and soft parts of the fruit. The seed oil contains linoleic, alpha-linoleic, oleic, palmitic, stearic, and vaccenic acids. The fruit contains palmitoleic, palmitic, and oleic acids. Sterols are found in 1% to 2% of the seed oil and 1% to 3% in the soft parts of the fruit as sitosterol, isofucosterol, campsterol, stigmastanol, citrostadienol, avenasterol, cycloartenol, 24-methylenecycloartanol, and obtusifoliol.(Guliyev 2004, Yang 2002, Cakir 2004)
More than 40 volatile compounds are in the fruit and leaves of sea buckthorn.(Guliyev 2004, Cakir 2004, Tian 2004) Steam distillation of the fruit yielded 8 aliphatic esters, 9 aliphatic alcohols, and 10 aliphatic hydrocarbons. The primary constituents of the volatile fruit aromas are ethyl dodecenoate, ethyl octanoate, decanol, ethyl decanoate, and ethyl dodecanoate.
The tannins hippophaenins A and B have been isolated from the leaves of sea buckthorn.(Yoshida 1991)
Uses and Pharmacology
Flavonoids from oil extracted from the seeds of sea buckthorn induced apoptosis in the liver cancer cell line BEL-7402. In the human breast carcinoma cell line Bcap-37, changes in 32 genes related to apoptosis were induced by flavonoids from seed extracts of sea buckthorn. Flavonols from sea buckthorn inhibited promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells. Fruit and berry extracts from sea buckthorn inhibited the growth of colon cancer cells HT29 and breast cancer cells MCF-7 in a dose-dependent manner. These extracts inhibited carcinogen-induced forestomach and skin tumorigenesis in mice; mechanisms of action may involve upregulation of phase 2 (eg, glutathione S-dimutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase) and antioxidant enzymes.(Hibasami 2005, Sun 2003, Olsson 2004, Padmavathi 2005, Zhang 2005)
A leaf extract of sea buckthorn inhibited proliferation of C6 rat glioma cells, possibly through a mechanism of early apoptosis; reduction of reactive oxygen species was noted as well.(Kim 2017)
Sea buckthorn oil may stimulate the recovery of hematopoiesis after chemotherapy. In mice with myelosuppression fed sea buckthorn oil, blood cell counts exceeded those in the control group and mortality decreased.(Chen 2003)
Although the anticancer activity of sea buckthorn has been confirmed by many in vitro and animal in vivo studies, the treatment and prophylactic doses for humans are unknown. Further well-controlled and high-quality clinical studies are needed in this area.(Olas 2018)
Phenolic compounds from the berries of sea buckthorn inhibited the growth of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Myricetin inhibited the growth of lactic acid bacteria from human GI tract flora. Extracts from sea buckthorn seeds inhibited the growth of Bacillus cereus (minimum inhibitory concentration [MIC] 200 ppm), Bacillus coagulans (MIC 300 ppm), Bacillus subtilis (MIC 300 ppm), Listeria monocytogenes (MIC 300 ppm), and Yersinia enterocolitica (MIC 350 ppm).(Negi 2005, Puupponen-Pimiä 2001) Ethanol extracts of sea buckthorn inhibited the growth of Helicobacter pylori at an MIC of approximately 60 mcg/mL.(Li 2005) A synergistic effect with antibiotics was observed against the gram-positive bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidis, with the strongest synergy (more than 50% increase in antimicrobial activity) noted with erythromycin.(Abidi 2015) The critical pathogenic cytotoxin of Staphylococcus aureus, alpha-hemolysin, was reduced in a dose-dependent manner by the sea buckthorn berry flavonoid isorhamnetin at levels of 2 to 16 mcg/mL. The protection against S. aureus-induced lung damage in this latter experiment resulted partially from transcription down-regulation, with no effect on S. aureus growth.(Jiang 2016)
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in 254 healthy Finnish adults evaluated the effect of sea buckthorn supplementation on the risk and duration of the common cold, digestive tract infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). A 90-day observation period did not reveal an effect of sea buckthorn puree (28 g/day; 8.4 mg/day of flavonols) on colds or GI infections. UTIs appeared to occur less in the treatment group in the per-protocol analysis; however, because very few UTIs were reported, a definitive conclusion could not be made. A small reduction in C-reactive protein was observed in the sea buckthorn group.(Larmo 2008)
Based on data from 4,521 healthy participants enrolled in 20 randomized controlled trials (including 1 study with sea buckthorn), meta-analyses demonstrated that flavonoid-containing supplements were safe and effective in preventing acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) compared to controls with a relative risk (RR) of 0.81 (95% confidence intervals [CI], 0.74 to 0.89; P<0.001) and low heterogeneity. A reduction in mean ARTI sick days was also observed with the supplements, however heterogeneity was significant (weighted mean difference [WMD] −0.56; 95% confidence interval [CI], −1.04 to −0.08; P=0.021). In subgroup analysis, significance in mean ARTI sick days was retained with flavonoid mixtures (as seen with sea buckthorn products) but not with use of single flavonoids (ie, quercetin, catechin). Pooled results from 16 of the trials indicated that adverse reactions were not increased in the flavonoid supplement groups compared to controls.(Yao 2022)
Animal and experimental data
Sea buckthorn fruits have some of the highest antioxidant activity among medicinal plants.(Gâtlan 2021) The alcoholic leaf and fruit extracts of sea buckthorn inhibited chromium (VI)-induced free radicals, apoptosis, and DNA fragmentation. A hexane extract inhibited depletion of glutathione in gastric tissue and inhibited nicotine-induced oxidative damage in erythrocytes. Oil supplementation increased the activation of glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrase, and membrane levels of sialic acid and the sulfhydryl group in erythrocytes. The oil also protects against oxidative damage from sulfur dioxide.(Guliyev 2004, Yang 2002, Rösch 2004, Rösch 2003, Negi 2005, Geetha 2003, Wu 2003) Additionally, an ethanolic extract of dried sea buckthorn fruits and leaves exhibited comparable antioxidant lipid peroxidation activity to ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol and reduced intracellular production of reactive oxygen species,(Shivapriya 2015) whereas the phenolic fraction of a methanolic extract of freeze-dried berries was found to be more effective at inhibiting oxygen radical production in platelets than Aronia or grape seed extracts.(Olas 2016) The antioxidant activity of sea buckthorn has also been observed in carcinogenic, vascular endothelial, neuroendocrine, and cataract protective mechanisms.(Olsson 2004, Padmavathi 2005, Yang 2016, Luo 2015, Wang 2016, Shivapriya 2015, Dubey 2016) Several in vivo studies on sea buckthorn have shown that sea buckthorn seed extract improves the activity of antioxidant enzymes, and thus has an antiaging effect. In addition, sea buckthorn seed oil has an iron-chelating effect and a certain protective effect against oxidative damage. The total flavones from sea buckthorn have antioxidant effects and indirectly inhibit retinal cell apoptosis. Flavones also have a potent inhibitory effect on lipid peroxidation.(Gâtlan 2021)
Compounds active in the protective and curative effects on gastric ulcers may involve the fatty acids, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, and beta-sitosterol found in sea buckthorn. Oral administration of carbon dioxide–extracted seed and pulp oils from sea buckthorn may have protective and curative effects in water-immersion stress–induced (P<0.05), reserpine-induced (P<0.01), pylorus ligation–induced (P<0.05), and acetic acid–induced gastric ulcers (P<0.01) in rats.(Xing 2002) Effects on mucosa have been associated with the sterols and long-chain alcohols in sea buckthorn. In other research on rats, induced ulcers were treated with procyanidins extracted from sea buckthorn oil. Reductions in the sizes of the ulcers were noticed on days 7 and 14 in a dose-dependent manner. This suggests that the procyanidins in sea buckthorn play an important role in healing acetic acid-induced gastric lesions, possibly by accelerating mucosal repair.(Jaśniewska 2021)
Cardiovascular disease risk factors
The effects of sea buckthorn juice on risk factors for cardiovascular disease were studied for 8 weeks in 20 men in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Patients consumed 300 mL of sea buckthorn juice or placebo orally daily. No statistically significant effects on plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and susceptibility of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to oxidation were observed.(Yang 2002, Eccleston 2002) The effect of sea buckthorn berry supplementation on serum cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL) and triacylglycerols as well as circulating flavonols was investigated in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Finnish trial (N=229). Healthy adults 19 to 50 years of age received 28 g/day of frozen sea buckthorn berry puree or placebo for 90 days, equating to approximately 167% of the estimated average Finnish daily flavonol intake of 5.4 mg, which is lower than most Western countries. The berry group experienced an increase in serum flavonols (isorhamnetin, quercetin); however, no significant effect was seen on any cholesterol parameters. In contrast, a significant reduction in C-reactive protein was seen in the berry group (median change, −0.06 mg/L; P=0.04).(Larmo 2009) In a randomized, crossover trial (N=110), overall metabolic profiles were significantly impacted by approximately 1 month of supplementation with sea buckthorn in women with a higher cardiometabolic risk at baseline compared to women with a lower baseline risk. The effects of 4 berry-based diets, each separated by a 30- to 39-day washout period were evaluated. Sea buckthorn air-dried berries, sea buckthorn oil, sea buckthorn plus maltodextrin, and frozen bilberries were used at an equivalent dose of approximately 100 g of fresh berries to replace part of the usual diet for 33 to 35 days. Changes in serum ALT (primary outcome) as well as lipid, glucose, and inflammatory metabolic indicators (secondary outcomes) were measured. While the diet that included sea buckthorn plus maltodextrin resulted in a significant negative effect on the metabolome, with an increase in cholesterol esters in large very low–density lipoproteins, as well as a decrease in serum acetate (P<0.0028), all 4 diets induced a significant overall beneficial impact on overall metabolic profules (P<0.001 to 0.003). Most changes in individual metabolites were not significant. However, the individual measures that did significantly change were triglycerides in small HDL particles, serum creatinine, and phenylalanine with sea buckthorn berries (P<0.0028); serum-free cholesterol, albumin, lactate, cholesterol, triglyceride, and particle concentrations in the intermediate-density lipoprotein with sea buckthorn oil (P<0.0028); and triglycerides in small HDL particles with bilberries (P<0.0028). No results regarding the ALT primary outcome were provided.(Larmo 2013) In contrast to this study, a 2011 randomized crossover trial (N=110) in overweight and/or obese women who consumed 4 berry diets determined that no strong conclusions could be made regarding the impact of sea buckthorn or bilberries on metabolic variables. A number of factors confounded the results, including dietary alterations by participants that led to a 16 g/day dietary increase in sugar. Although the average change in some individual metabolic parameters (ie, weight, intercellular, and vascular adhesion molecule reduction) was significantly different, the confidence intervals were extremely wide with standard deviations that ranged from 1.5 to 11 times the average, which indicates wide variability in the study results.(Lehtonen 2011)
Postprandial hypertriglyceridemia and lipemia are known risk factors for future cardiac events. The effects on postprandial lipemia of specific components of 4 preparations of sea buckthorn berries and black currants were evaluated in healthy males in a crossover study (N=25). Lactose-free and fat-free nonflavored natural yogurt was provided as the base meal with rapeseed oil (35 g) plus an amount of berry preparation equivalent to 400 g of fresh berries and 20 to 24 g of fiber. All 3 fiber-rich sea buckthorn preparations, which varied in polyphenol content, delayed lipemia compared with the fiber- and polyphenol-depleted control. This delaying effect was expected, as sea buckthorn is naturally lipid rich; the overall triacylglycerol response did not change.(Linderborg 2012)
In a study of 88 patients, total flavones in sea buckthorn did not alter the sympathetic activity in treatment of hypertension when compared with patients treated with nifedipine and extended-release verapamil.(Zhang 2001)
A trial on hypertensive subjects investigated the effect of sea buckthorn seed oil in reducing cardiovascular risk factors; 32 healthy and 74 hypertensive and hypercholestrolemic human subjects participated in the randomized, controlled, double-blind, longitudinal study. Sea buckthorn seed oil or placebo (sunflower oil) was used as a supplemented at a oral daily dose of 0.75 mL for 30 days. Normalization of blood pressure in hypertensive subjects was noted in the sea buckthorn seed oil group. Dietary supplementation of sea buckthorn seed oil markedly reduced cholesterol, oxy-LDL, and triglycerides in hypercholesterolemic subjects; although, its effect on subjects with normal blood pressure and cholesterol was less pronounced. Sea buckthorn seed oil supplementation also improved the circulatory antioxidant status of both normal and hypertensive subjects. It was concluded that sea buckthorn seed oil can reduce dyslipidemia, cardiovascular risk factors, and hypertension.(Vashishtha 2017)
Further studies are needed to explore the role of different sea buckthorn products in the prophylaxis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases (eg, antihemorrhagic efficiency).(Olas 2022)
Positive effects on skin have been associated with the sterols and long-chain alcohols in sea buckthorn. Studies on the topical application of the plant oil conclude that it is very useful in healing wounds while leaving no scars. It is also a good ultraviolet protectant as compared to various sunscreen creams.(Pundir 2021)
Topically applied sea buckthorn oil promotes healing of various wounds, burns, and irradiation dermatitis of skin.(Yang 2002)
Dietary supplementation with extracted seed and soft-part (berry flesh and peel) sea buckthorn oil was tested in 49 atopic dermatitis patients in a 1999 double-blind, parallel, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Patients took 5 g (as 10 capsules) of sea buckthorn seed or pulp oil, or paraffin oil (control group) orally daily for 4 months.(Yang 1999) After 1 month of treatment, patients receiving the seed oil reported improvement of atopic dermatitis symptoms, which correlated to an increase in alphalinolenic acid in plasma lipids. Patients treated with the pulp oil had increased levels of palmitoleic acid (P<0.05) in plasma phospholipids and neutral lipids; however, these changes did not correlate with symptom improvement. No changes were detected in the levels of triacylglycerols, serum total, and specific immunoglobulin E.(Yang 1999) While this 1999 study was the only trial of sea buckthorn to meet selection criteria for a 2012 Cochrane review evaluating dietary supplements for treatment of established atopic eczema/dermatitis, it was considered to be of poor quality and to offer no convincing evidence of benefit.(Bath-Hextall 2012) In a placebo-controlled, parallel, randomized, double-blind trial of 16 atopic dermatitis patients, seed and pulp oil supplementation over 4 months did not lead to changes in the skin glycerophospholipids.(Yang 2000)
Experimental and animal data
Flavonoids from seed and fruit extracts of sea buckthorn inhibited glycometabolism and reduced serum glucose, serum cholesterol, and serum triglycerides in mice.(Cao 2003) In a streptozocin-induced diabetes mouse model, the major proinflammatory mediators (tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-alpha, interleukin [IL]-6, C-reactive protein) and key transcription factor (NF-kappaB) associated with inflammation and insulin resistance were observed after administration of sea buckthorn seed protein, procyanidin, and polysaccharide extracts. Additionally, effects on insulin, fasting blood glucose, and lipid parameters were measured. After 3 doses of each extract (50, 100, and 200 mg/kg/day) were given for 4 weeks, sea buckthorn seed protein extract at medium and high doses resulted in significant improvements in body weight, fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and serum insulin, as well as the inflammatory biomarkers C-reactive, IL-6, TNF-alpha, and NF-kappaB (0.01<P<0.05). The effects of the seed protein extract did not differ significantly from the procyanidin or polysaccharide extracts in the majority of outcomes. These beneficial effects may be mediated through the effect of the NF-kappaB signaling pathway.(Yuan 2016) The potential benefit of sea buckthorn fruit oil extract for improving insulin sensitivity, reducing blood glucose, promoting hepatic glycogenesis, and protecting glucose hepatotoxicity was demonstrated in vitro and in a type 2 diabetes mouse model. Effects on blood glucose showed a dose-dependent association. Amelioration of insulin resistance was mediated through the PI3K/Akt pathway where gene and protein expression were enhanced.(Gao 2017)
In a rat model for endometriosis, 4-week administration of a combination of extracts from sea buckthorn fruit oil (standardized to more than 85% fatty acid content) plus St. John’s wort flower significantly reduced endometrial implants and prevented adhesions (P<0.001 each) compared to the control group. No significant differences were found between the extract and the reference drug (buserelin). Subsequently, regular estrous cycles were observed only in animals in the intervention and reference groups. Compared with controls, inflammatory biomarkers (ie, TNF-alpha, IL-6, vascular endothelial growth factor) were observed to be significantly reduced after sea buckthorn/St. John’s wort extract administration (P<0.01 for each).(Ilhan 2016)
Experimental and animal data
Administration of a sea buckthorn leaf extract on the same day as or 5 days prior to induction of inflammation in the right hind paw of rats reduced the inflammation in a dose-dependent manner when compared with controls.(Ganju 2005) A long-term stress model in rats was used to investigate the effect and mechanisms of sea buckthorn oil on the neuroendocrine-immune network and stress-induced suppression of natural killer (NK) cells. Sea buckthorn oil was extracted from pressed berries using a supercritical carbon dioxide process and was administered at a low (5 mL/kg) and high (10 mL/kg) dose for 21 days. The reduced weight as well as lower NK cell cytotoxicity, cell numbers, and cell expression of the apoptotic proteins perforin and granzyme B due to stress were improved with sea buckthorn oil supplementation. Markers of neuroendocrine stress (ie, cortisol, adrenocorticotrophin hormone, IL-1beta, TNF-alpha) also appeared to be somewhat attenuated with sea buckthorn oil.(Diandong 2016)
Clinical effects of sea buckthorn extract oil (15 g orally 3 times daily for 6 months) were tested in 48 cirrhotic patients (Child-Pugh class A and B). Primary outcomes included measurements of cytokines and various blood parameters of liver fibrosis and liver function tests (eg, IL-6, TNF-alpha, albumin, AST, ALT). Patients treated with sea buckthorn extract had reduced serum levels of laminin, hyaluronic acid, total bile acid, and collagen types III and IV. These results suggest that the seed oil of sea buckthorn may have some beneficial effects in the prevention and treatment of liver disease.(Gao 2003)
Experimental and animal data
Sea buckthorn juice may protect against learning and memory changes caused by lead-induced neurotoxicity in mice.(Xu 2005) An ethanolic extract of dried sea buckthorn fruits and leaves was tested at concentrations ranging from 3.2 mcg/mL to 100 mcg/mL in a human neural cell line. Neuroprotection was observed in a dose-dependent manner, with the most effective neuroprotection seen at 100 mcg/mL. The extract also exhibited comparable antioxidant lipid peroxidation activity to ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol standards, and reduced intracellular production of reactive oxygen species.(Shivapriya 2015) Markers of neuroendocrine stress (ie, cortisol, adrenocorticotrophin hormone, IL-1beta, TNF-alpha) also appeared to be somewhat attenuated with sea buckthorn oil in a chronic stress model in rats.(Diandong 2016)
Both sea buckthorn leaf extract and a flavonoid glycoside extract administered to mice fed a high-fat diet reduced fat mass compared to the high-fat diet alone group.(Kwon 2017) Additionally, other measures associated with obesity, such as insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis were beneficially affected. Flavonoid-enriched extract from H. rhamnoides reduced body weight gain and triglyceride concentrations in the serum and liver of mice.(Yang 2017)
In a double-blind, controlled trial, 100 participants with subjective dry eye symptoms were randomized to sea buckthorn oil (1 g twice daily with a meal) or placebo for 3 months to determine effects on symptoms as well as tear film osmolarity, stability, and secretion. Tear film osmolarity was significantly increased in the sea buckthorn group after adjusting for significant covariates (baseline values, age, gender, contact lens). Participants’ records of dry eye symptoms revealed lower proportions of subjects reporting the maximum score for redness (6% vs 36%; P=0.04) and burning (12% vs 32%; P=0.04) in the sea buckthorn group compared with placebo. None of the other 23 symptoms differed significantly between groups. Contact lens wearers in the intervention group reported significantly fewer "eye symptom days" compared with placebo (mean, 65% vs 81%, respectively; P=0.049) and wore their contacts more often (45 vs 27 days) and for longer periods (14 hours vs 11 hours).(Larmo 2010) Fatty acid composition of tear film was not different between groups receiving sea buckthorn oil or placebo (palm and coconut oil triacylglycerols), indicating that the beneficial effects of sea buckthorn oil on dry eye do not appear to be mediated directly through fatty acids.(Jarvinen 2011)
The effects of sea buckthorn berry oil on cardiovascular disease risk were studied over a 4-week period in 12 healthy, normolipidemic men in a double-blind, randomized, crossover study. Patients were treated with ten 500 mg capsules of sea buckthorn berry oil orally daily. Patients taking sea buckthorn berry oil demonstrated a clear decrease in the rate of adenosine-5-diphosphate–induced platelet aggregation (P<0.05) and maximum aggregation at 4 minutes (percentage aggregation, P<0.01). The mechanisms behind these effects remain unclear.(Johansson 2000)
In a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, the effect of orally administered sea buckthorn oil (3 g/day [1.5 g twice daily]) compared with placebo was assessed on vaginal atrophy in symptomatic postmenopausal women (N=116). In compliant participants, a 3-month supplementation with sea buckthorn oil produced an insignificant improvement in vaginal health score, while a decrease was observed with placebo. The rate of improvement in vaginal epithelial integrity scores was significantly better than placebo (P=0.03). Subjective assessments of night sweats were reported by participants in daily logbooks and were significantly less in the treatment group during month 3.(Larmo 2014)
Animal and experimental data
Protection against whole-body irradiation has been reported in mice; an alcoholic extract of the berries rendered a nearly 82% survival rate compared with 0% survival in untreated irradiated controls. In the liver, the oil from the berries inhibited the Fenton reaction and radiation-mediated generation of hydroxyl radicals, and inhibited superoxide anion–mediated nitroblue tetrazolium reduction and ferrous sulfate–mediated lipid peroxidation. The radioprotective effects may be associated with any of the following actions: Free-radical scavenging, acceleration of stem cell proliferation, immunostimulation, and direct modulation of chromatin organization.(Agrawala 2002, Goel 2002, Kumar 2002) An aqueous leaf extract administered intraperitoneally at 30 mg/kg protected against radiation-induced damage of the jejunum and bone marrow in whole-body irradiated mice.(Bala 2015)
Uremia is associated with oxidative stress and cellular inflammation. Because patients with chronic kidney disease often suffer from oral health problems, the ability of sea buckthorn to affect oxidative and inflammatory biomarkers in saliva has been investigated. In a double-blind, randomized, crossover trial conducted in 63 adult hemodialysis patients, results showed no changes in DNA damage, salivary flow rates, or inflammatory biomarkers (ie, hs-CRP, antitrypsin, orosomucoid, B-leukocytes) with supplementation of sea buckthorn extract (supercritical carbon dioxide extraction) 2 g/day for 8 weeks compared with placebo. The order of the crossover sequence significantly affected (P=0.001) changes in 2 inflammation markers, hs-CRP and orosomucoid, with sea buckthorn followed by placebo resulting in increased values and the opposite sequence yielding decreased values. Sea buckthorn resulted in significant increases in phosphate and sodium, and a decrease in iron. Significant increases in creatinine, urea, potassium, immunoglobulin A, and immunoglobulin M occurred with placebo but were unchanged with sea buckthorn.(Rodhe 2013) In another randomized controlled trial, sea buckthorn as an adjunct to standard therapy for idiopathic nephrotic syndrome was investigated in 56 adult and pediatric patients. After 12 weeks, 350 mg twice daily of sea buckthorn supplementation added to standard therapy provided no statistically significant benefit compared with standard therapy alone for edema, anorexia, weakness, oliguria, blood pressure, hemoglobin, serum creatinine, phosphorus, blood urea, or weight. However, reductions in cholesterol, 24-hour urinary protein, IL-6, apolipoprotein B, and CRP were observed in the sea buckthorn group.(Singh 2013)
Small, in vivo human studies (N=12) have shown that the consumption of proanthocyanidin-rich extract of sea buckthorn berry resulted in selective mobilization of stem cell types involved in regenerative and reparative functions. This data may contribute to understanding the traditional uses of sea buckthorn berry for preventive health, regenerative health, and postponing the aging process.(Drapeau 2019)
Sea buckthorn extract has demonstrated antiviral activity against influenza A/H1N1 virus in kidney cells. The concentration exerting the greatest antiviral effect without being cytotoxic was 50 mcg/mL.(Toreli 2015)
In a study in rats, sea buckthorn seed oil reduced infarction volume after occlusion of middle cerebral artery and protected against ischemic cerebral infarction.(Cheng 2003)
Flavones from sea buckthorn promoted healing of the patellar tendon in a rat model by enhancing collagen deposition and muscle fiber recovery.(Fu 2005)
Empirical healers have recommended approximately 20 g/day of sea buckthorn fruit in traditional ethnic medicine.(Grad 2012) In clinical trials, doses of the air-dried berries, or seed or pulp oil taken orally ranged from 5 to 45 g daily for 4 weeks to 6 months.(Yang 1999, Gao 2003, Johansson 2000) Sea buckthorn juice has been administered in volumes up to 300 mL daily over 8 weeks. The consumption of sea buckthorn is often limited by its unique sensory properties characterized by high intensities of sourness, astringency, and bitterness.(Ma 2022)
Antimicrobial: 28 g/day of sea buckthorn puree for 90 days appeared to reduce the incidence of UTIs in Finnish adults.(Larmo 2010)
Atopic dermatitis: 5 g/day of seed oil or pulp oil (as ten 500 mg capsules) for 4 months improved symptoms in patients with atopic dermatitis.(Yang 1999)
Cardiovascular risk factors: Sea buckthorn air-dried berries or oil for 1 month (equivalent to approximately 100 g/day fresh berries) was beneficial in women.(Larmo 2013) In healthy men, postprandial lipemia was improved with administration of dried sea buckthorn berries (equivalent to 400 g of fresh berries) with meals.(Linderborg 2012) Sea buckthorn juice 300 mL over 8 weeks has been administered in a trial evaluating effects on coronary disease risk factors.(Eccleston 2002)
Liver disease: 15 g 3 times daily of sea buckthorn extract for 6 months improved several hepatic biomarkers in patients with cirrhosis.(Gao 2003)
Platelet aggregation: 5 g/day of sea buckthorn oil administered for 4 weeks improved platelet aggregation in a small study of healthy normolipidemic individuals.(Johansson 2000)
Postmenopausal symptoms: 1.5 g twice daily of sea buckthorn oil given for 3 months reduced night sweats and improved vaginal epithelial integrity.(Larmo 2014)
Renal disease: Adjunctive use of sea buckthorn extract 350 mg twice daily for 12 weeks improved cholesterol, 24-hour urinary protein, IL-6, apolipoprotein B, and C-reactive protein (60) Sea buckthorn oil extract 2 g/day administered for 8 weeks in hemodialysis patients did not demonstrate significant changes in effects of chronic kidney disease.(Rodhe 2013)
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy during pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented.
Carotenodermia (yellow to orange discoloration of the skin) was reported in a 45-year-old man after he consumed 100 g/day of sea buckthorn syrup for 6 months. This dose is 5 times the amount usually recommended by empirical healers. Hypercarotenemia resulted in excess carotene being stored in the skin; it is also stored in fat. Clinically, carotenodermia is distinguishable from jaundice, as the conjunctiva remains unaffected. Because carotene is nontoxic, hypercarotenemia is not considered dangerous.Grad 2012
Research from toxicological studies using animal models suggests seed oil and oil from the fruit's soft parts are safe for consumption. These studies also examined acute and chronic toxicity of blood, liver, and heart as well as the mutagenicity and teratogenicity associated with ingested oils.(Yang 2002)
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