Sea Buckthorn is a hardy bush bearing delicious orange berries that grows in rocky and coastal areas of many Asian and European countries. Traditional medicinal use of the berries for treating wounds, inflammation, and mucous-membrane-related disorders such gastric and gynecological problems are described in ancient Tibetans texts dating back to the 11th century. Inspired by the long traditional use and the increasing public recognition of the benefits of natural products, scientists have carried out extensive research on sea buckthorn. As a result we now have an much better understanding of the health effects and the chemical composition of sea buckthorn berries, including the myriad of bioactive compounds that they contain, and which include vitamin C and E, carotenoids (including beta-carotene), flavonoids, essential fatty acids (including anti-inflammatory omega-7), plant sterols, and trace minerals. Sea buckthorn berry and their juice and oils have
been shown to have a wide range of beneficial effects. Because of their nutrient profile, they help reduce oxidation, but their therapeutic properties go much further than that and show an acute affinity with the skin and the mucous membranes, promoting their regeneration and the immune function of mucous tissue.
What makes sea buckthorn unique?
Up to the 50% of the fatty acids in sea buckthorn oil, is made up of palmitoleic acid (16:1n-7), which has been described in hundreds of scientific papers as a unique omega fatty acid because of its role as a protector of the integrity and balance of mucosal membranes. Mucous membranes cover the digestive, respiratory, and urogenital tracts and the inner surface of eyes. They are important channels for interactions and substance exchanges between our body and the environment. They are often also major routes for bacteria, virus and external toxins and allergens to enter the body, hence why the integrity and health condition of mucous membranes plays an important role in the general wellbeing of the whole body.
Mucous membranes are the interface between the environment and our internal organs and systems. They are constantly helping us fight stress brought about by changes in temperature and humidity, and they also are affected by side our genetic makeup, the quality and quantity of water we drink, side effects of medications, as well as ageing. Ageing, in fact, is one of the main factors contributing to the dryness of mucosal membraes, which increases their sensitivity to all of the above factors, increasing their chances of becoming inflamed. Nutrition plays a huge role in keeping our mucous membranes healthy, with a good balance of fats and proteins being essential for normal mucous membrane function and regeneration. Also, antioxidants protect membrane lipids from oxidation, so “eating a rainbow” of colours from plant origin in addition to sources of protein that are also rich in essential fatty acids, such as oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, etc.) and eggs, cooked with antioxidant-rich olive oil, is advised for good mucosal integrity.
How specifically can I use sea buckthorn? What are the applications?
The anti-ulcerative mechanisms of action of sea buckthorn oils are well documented. As well as the anti-inflammatory properties of palmitoleic acid, other compounds such as β-sitosterol and β-sitosterol-β-D-glucoside in sea buckthorn oils are responsible for its anti-ulcerative activity. The combination of the therapeutic properties by these compounds enable sea buckthorn oil to re-epithelialise ulcer areas, i.e. the oil extracted from the berries enables new skin to grow back, thereby diminishing the pain and discomfort associated with lesions in mucosal tissue such as mouth ulcers, gastric ulcers and vaginal micro-tears caused by vaginal dryness. The bioactive components in sea buckthorn oil seem to provide the area treated with water-repellent film that allows the tissue to heal more readily. Recent trials have reported a substantial improvement in mouth ulcer symptoms and duration of the lesions following topical application of sea buckthorn oils and extracts. In addition, sea buckthorn has strong anti-oxidative activity of sea due to its high content in vitamins C and E, the latter present as α-tocopherol as well as γ-tocopherol. Lycopene, α-, β-, and γ-carotenes are also present in high amounts as the main carotenoids in sea buckthorn oil. These powerful antioxidant cocktail of nutrients works synergistically with the sterols and the omega-7 to protect the fatty layer of skin that is often damaged in oral, gastric and vaginal membranes and that is made worse by means of increased oxidative damage.
Where can I get some sea buckthorn? I want to try it now!
Vitae has just launched 2 products containing sea buckthorn oil as well as another well researched mucosal lubricant, hyaluronic acid, known for its ability to bind hydration to the surface of skin and mucosal membranes. One of these products BucoVitae helps with the management of mouth ulcers, and the reducing the intensity of the symptoms and the duration of the ulcers. Oliovita Cream is an intimate cream for external application with sea buckthorn extract, hyaluronic acid and argan oil that helps to maintain the physiological balance of the the vaginal mucosa, strengthening the natural barrier function of the skin with an emollient and softening effect that contributes to overall improved comfort.