Rejuvenate your skin naturally with sea buckthorn oil

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Sea Buckthorn Oil

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  • Sea buckthorn oil can be extracted either from the berry or the seeds of the plant. Studies have revealed that both versions contain good amounts of beneficial healthy fats
  • Sea buckthorn oil is well-known for its skin-healing and rejuvenating effects. Used topically, it’s a great natural cleanser and exfoliator. It can also help heal burns, cuts, sores, wounds, sunburn, rashes and other types of skin damage
  • This essential oil may help manage your weight, address dry eyes, and lower your risk for dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Used for centuries in Asia and Europe,1 sea buckthorn oil is gaining popularity due to its many benefits, particularly its potential antiaging action.2 Get to know more about this herbal oil.

What is sea buckthorn oil?

Contrary to what its name suggests, sea buckthorn does not come from the sea. It's actually a shrub belonging to the Elaeagnaceae family3 and grows in the mountainous areas of Asia and Europe.4 Its botanical name, Hippophae rhamnoides, comes from the Greek words “hippos” meaning “horse,” and “phos,” meaning “shine,” referring to its ability to improve horses' health and make their hair shinier and smoother.5 It was also used to help treat blindness in horses.6

Sea buckthorn is believed to have originated from the Himalayas,7 but was also used by ancient Greeks and other European cultures.8 It not only appears in ancient Tibetan texts, but is also mentioned in the Indian Materia Medica and early Chinese formularies.9 It’s also mentioned in Greek mythology.10 Genghis Khan was said to have used sea buckthorn oil as well,11 proving that its benefits and uses have been well-known for a very long time.

Sea buckthorn oil is available either as a seed oil or fruit/berry oil,12 extracted from the seeds or the fleshy pulp13,14 of the small, nutrient-rich yellow-orange or red berries.15,16 Although both share some characteristics in their nutrient profiles, they have pronounced differences, too. For instance, the fruit oil is dark red or red orange,17 while the seed oil is yellow.18

Uses of sea buckthorn oil

Sea buckthorn has a long history of use in folk medicine,19 dating back thousands of years. Tibetan and Chinese health practitioners used it to help relieve various health problems.20

This plant is renowned in Ayurvedic medicine,21 and ancient Greeks used it to enhance their well-being.22 In Tibet, Russia, Mongolia and China, sea buckthorn is known to help relieve cough, promote blood circulation, aid digestion and alleviate pain.23

Sea buckthorn oil is well-known for its skin-healing and rejuvenating abilities. Used topically, it's a great natural cleanser24 and exfoliator.25 It can also help heal burns, cuts, sores, wounds, sunburns rashes and other types of skin damage,26,27 and may aid in slowing down the signs of aging28 by nourishing the tissues in your skin.29

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Composition of sea buckthorn oil

Sea buckthorn oil is becoming popular because of its impressive nutritional profile. It contains various nutrients and phytonutrients, particularly:30

  • Amino acids
  • Plant sterols
  • Tocopherols
  • Carotenoids like beta-carotene
  • Phenols, terpenes and glucosides
  • Vitamins (A, E, K and B vitamins)
  • Minerals (Copper, iron, selenium and manganese)
  • Flavonoids like isorhamnetin, quercetin and myricetin31

The sea buckthorn berry also has as much vitamin E as wheat germ,32 more vitamin A than carrots,33 more vitamin C than oranges, tomatoes and kiwifruits,34 and four times more superoxide dismutase (SOD), an important enzyme that can help reduce free radical damage,35 than ginseng.36 Plus, it's the only plant source that contains omega-3, -6, -7 and -9 fatty acids.37

While both sea buckthorn berry oil and seed oil offer polyunsaturated fatty acids, they have noticeable differences in composition as well.38 The seed oil contains linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid (comprising 70 percent),39 and some amounts of unsaturated fatty acids, tocopherols, tocotrienols, phytosterols and carotenoids.40

The fruit oil contains high amounts of palmitoleic (omega-7)41 and palmitic acid, and other substances such as ethyl dodecenoate, ethyl octanoate, decabol, ethyl decanoate and ethyl dodecanoate.42,43

6 Health benefits of sea buckthorn oil

Its high fatty acid content and the wealth of nutrients make sea buckthorn oil one of the most health-promoting herbal oils today. It's believed to have high antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties that may improve overall well-being. Here are some potential benefits of sea buckthorn oil:44

Promote skin health — Topical applications of sea buckthorn oil may help address skin concerns by enhancing hydration, elasticity and regeneration, and addressing acne. Initial research has revealed that sea buckthorn oil may aid in alleviating rosacea, a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by small red bumps on the face.45

Help with weight management — Sea buckthorn oil’s fatty acids may help inhibit your body from storing fat, assisting with better weight management in the long run.46

Help lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease — Vitamin B12 in sea buckthorn oil may reduce the risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.47 The omega-3s and other fatty acids present in this oil can have the same effect as well.48

Manage ulcer and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — Sea buckthorn oil can help ease mucosal tissues in your digestive tract, and may be useful in helping manage gastric ulcers49 and other gastrointestinal tract problems such as upset stomach, dyspepsia and constipation.50

Relieve dry eyes — Sea buckthorn oil may help ease dry eyes,51 commonly seen in older people and menopausal women52 and often caused by hormonal changes.53 A study found that oral supplementation of sea buckthorn oil in individuals with dry eyes for three months had a positive effect on osmolarity and dry eye symptoms such as burning and redness.54

Reduce liver damage — An animal study found that sea buckthorn exhibits potent hepaprotective activity, and lowers concentrations of aflatoxins in the liver, reducing their adverse effects.55 Another clinical study found that sea buckthorn oil can assist in normalizing levels of liver enzymes and serum bile acids.56

How to make sea buckthorn oil

Solvent extraction, cold-pressing, hot-pressing and maceration are common ways of extracting sea buckthorn oil.57 Of these mentioned methods, supercritical CO2 extraction is said to effectively extract the oil from the berry, helping retain its nutritious components. Manufacturers utilize liquidized carbon dioxide to get the beneficial oil from the berry.58

According to a 2012 study, CO2-extracted sea buckthorn oil has the potential to be used for nutraceutical, cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical purposes.59

How does sea buckthorn oil work?

Sea buckthorn oil can be taken internally60 or used topically. Before ingesting this oil, consult a doctor to determine the ideal amount and confirm that if it’s safe for you. If using topically, make sure to dilute it in a safe carrier oil first, like coconut, sweet almond or jojoba, and take an allergen patch test to see how your skin will react.61

Is sea buckthorn oil safe?

As with other herbal oils, I advise you to be cautious when using sea buckthorn oil, especially if you're dealing with certain health conditions. Sea buckthorn oil is safe for most healthy adults, but it shouldn’t be used or taken by children,62 people diagnosed with cancer, and those with allergies or hypersensitivities to the plant.63

Since there is no scientific proof regarding its safety for pregnant women or nursing moms, I recommend avoiding this oil if you are pregnant, lactating or planning to be pregnant in the near future.64

Side effects of sea buckthorn oil

Sea buckthorn in general may cause side effects, such as high blood pressure levels, headaches, swelling, dizziness and palpitations.65 The essential oil may trigger dehydration and loss of beneficial electrolytes.66

Contraindications may occur when you take sea buckthorn oil together with antibiotics, blood pressure medicines like angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and herbs and supplements. Watch out for the following side effects:67

Reduced blood sugar levels — Exercise caution if you’re taking insulin or diabetes medications as sea buckthorn was reported to have blood sugar-lowering properties.

Increased bleeding risk — Initial research revealed that sea buckthorn can increase bleeding risk when taken alongside aspirin, anticoagulants, antiplatelet medicines or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as well as herbal supplements like Ginkgo biloba, garlic and saw palmetto.

Reduced platelet aggregation — Sea buckthorn, when consumed alongside blood thinners, may decrease platelet aggregation further.

Additive effects — Such effects have been reported because of interactions between sea buckthorn products and antineoplastics (anticancer agents), cholesterol-altering medicines, antioxidant drugs, antiulcer medicines and immunosuppressants.

Decreased effectivity of medicine — Sea buckthorn products may reduce the actions of cyclophosphamide or epirubicin (Farmorubicin), or other immunosuppressants and chemotherapies.

+ Sources and References