oil: Nature's anti-oxidant cocktail
In recent years
people have discovered the many potential benefits of antioxidants in the
diet, and the pharmaceutical industry has raced to synthesize more and more
powerful varieties of them. But in chasing new discoveries we have forgotten
a time-honored natural source of antioxidants: Sea-Buckthorn berries
ow gardening may
save your life. (a personal story)
This is a story about my mother. She is 75 years old, and retired now,
but she has always been fond of gardening.
Quite a few years ago, we had a problem in one part of our garden. The
soil was very poor, and often it would blow all over the place. Nothing
would grow there.
Eventually, a friend suggested we should try the Sea-Buckthorn bush, a
hardy plant which grows in dry soil. We had to plant at least two bushes
- male and female - to ensure a supply of berries, which (he said) had
very healthful and even miraculous herbal properties. It sounded rather
exotic, but we decided to try it; and it (they) seemed to thrive. It certainly
lived up to its name - it had thorns enough to deter even the most thick-skinned
buck. The bushes grew quite large, and every autumn we had a good crop
of berries; but these were rather a disappointment. They looked pretty
on the bush, oval-shaped and a bright orange colour. But it was difficult
to harvest them and, after that, we couldn't really see what the fuss
was about. They didn't have much flavour, and they weren't even particularly
sweet. So in the end we left the bushes alone.
To return to my mother. About two years ago, she suddenly developed quite
a sizeable skin-tumor, on the back of her neck. We begged her to see the
doctor, but she wouldn't; she doesn't like to use medicines. At last,
she remembered our friend's stories about the wonder-working berries,
and decided to give them a try. So, every day, she applied an external
compress of the pulped berries. And six months later, when I saw her again,
I was quite amazed when she showed me that the tumor had completely gone!
After this I decided to find out more about Sea-Buckthorn. It seems that
it was already known in Ancient Greek times. It is also called "Sallow
Thorn", presumably from the berries which can stain the skin yellow
(they have been used to make pigments and dyes). Sea-Buckthorn's Latin
name is Hippophae rhamnoides L., translated to mean "giving light
to a horse" (hippos - horse, phaos - light); refer- , to its reputed
power of curing blindness in horses (- well, who am I to argue). It is
native to Europe and some northern regions of Asia, but is cultivated
Sea Buckthorn (English),
Argousier (French), Finbar
(Swedish), Homoktövis (Hungarian),
Star-Bu or Dhar-Bu (Tibetan),
Oblepiha (Russian), Tindved
(Danish), Rokitnik (Polish)
is the secret?
CONTENT OF VITAMINS
C, E and b-carotene per 100 g (Table 1)
Sea-Buckthorn berries have a unique composition, combining a cocktail
of components usually only found separately. The content of vitamin C,
vitamin E and carotenoids reads like the label on a pack of multi-vitamin
pills. The vitamin C content is among the highest for any plant (4th after
rose-hips, hot chili pepper and sweet red pepper), while for vitamin E
it takes 2- nd place around the other "champions" are all nuts
and seeds with a high fat content. Sea-Buckthorn berries also have a high
content of b-carotene (see Tables 1 and 2). The beta-carotene content
is what gives the berries their colour, which can vary from yellow to
red depending on the variety. All of these components are classified as
natural anti-oxidants, which form a vital part of the body's defense system.
Vitamin C (mg)
Vitamin E (mg)
Sweet red peppers 350
Hot Chili peppers 360
Sweet red peppers 250
Sea-Buckthorn berries 220
Sea-Buckthorn berries* 180
Sunflower oil 50
Sunflower seeds 50
Filbert nuts 24
Palm oil 22
* 80% from D-alpha-tocopherol
Despite the wide area where Sea-Buckthorn grows, few people in Europe
or America make use of its medicinal properties. But in some countries
like Tibet, China, Russia and Ukraine, Sea-Buckthorn oil is a popular
home-made ointment for minor cuts, sunburn, and skin irritation; and its
curative properties have been confirmed by scientific research. If you
are able to harvest some Sea-Buckthorn berries, you can try preparing
the oil yourself. (see left green box)
do we need anti-oxidants?
Smoking, drinking alcohol, exposure to environmental pollutants, and
also exposure to ultraviolet light or nuclear radiation can all trigger
the production of "free radicals" on the skin's surface, or
inside the body. Free radicals are very simple compounds of oxygen, in
which the innocent molecule has acquired an extra electron. Free radicals
are very reactive particles and they aggressively attack all the surrounding
molecules within the cell. The attacked molecules are oxidized, becoming
structurally damaged and even making them toxic for the body. Vitamins
with antioxidant properties form a natural line of defense against free
radicals; they "catch" free radicals and neutralize them. These
anti-oxidant vitamins, all present in Sea-Buckthorn oil, are vitamin A
(derived from -carotene), vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin E (-tocopherol).
Active ingredients of Sea-Buckthorn berries
typical amounts per 100 g of fresh berries (Table 2)
E (up to 180 mg)
* vitamin C (50-900 mg)
* vitamin A (up to 60 mcg)
* carotenoids: beta-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene (total
* vitamin B1 (up to 35 mcg)
* vitamin B2 (up to 55 mcg)
* folate (up to 80 mcg )
* fruit acids: chiefly malic acid, also acetic acid and quinic
in particular kaempferol, isorhamnetin as well as quercetin
tri- and tetra-glycosides
* carbohydrates (up to 3.6g)
* essential minerals: K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Cr and Se
* amino-acids (proteins)
* unsaturated and saturated fatty-acids (in the seeds 12%; in
the pulp 9% of total): oleic, isolinoic, linoleic and stearic
For those of us not lucky enough to have a Sea-Buckthorn bush, or
with no time to prepare the oil ourselves, fortunately it is available
in ready-prepared form; as a liquid for use on the skin, or as capsules
for internal use. The finished product is more often blended with an oil
such as sunflower oil, olive oil and almond oil. Also on the market you
can find a very concentrated extract (not blended), used by manufacturers
of cosmetics and other products. Sea-buckthorn oil standardized using
carotenoids (not less than 170mg% and maximum 300-420mg%) and sum of tocoferols
(not less than 110mg%).
The purity is very important; not every product is of a good standard.
But some high-quality products I have found in Eastern Europe (try to find here). It does
not contain any preservatives or chemical stabilizers. Amount of carotenoids
is no more than 130 mg%. The suggested dosage is 1 t.spoon 2-3 times per
Home prepared Sea-Buckthorn oil
Wash the berries, and press to remove juice (they are very
soft and squashy).
Drain the mass of pulp, seeds and skins and blend it in a food
processor. Mix olive oil (or sunflower oil, or almond oil) with
the blended mass (2 parts oil to 3 parts blended pulp) and leave
for 3 weeks in a dark place at room temperature (25oC), re-mixing
occasionally. After this time, carefully pour off the oil layer
and store in a bottle, preferably in a dark, cool place. The
oil incorporates the vitamins and bio-active components from
the berries, and with suitable storage will keep its healing
activity for a long time.
juice: healthy and refreshing
For a healthy and refreshing drink, blend the fresh juice
and pulp from the berries with water (1:1), or with water and
apple juice (1:1:1).
You get a refreshing drink with a pastel-orange colour and a
delicate aromatic aroma. But remember that the berries have
an oily component (9%) which will separate on standing; you
may want to re-blend the juice shortly before drinking
oil for a healthy body
and healthy skin
For a healthy bodily system
reinforces the body's defenses
Sea-Buckthorn oil is very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially
in vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotenes, flavanoids, and other bioactive
compounds. Sea-Buckthorn oil increases the capability of the body's immune-system
and can prevent vitamin A deficiency in the body. Also has an antibacterial
action; inhibits the growth of staphylococci and other bacteria. These
effects are especially valuable at the end of a long winter, in the treatment
of colds, febrile conditions, exhaustion, also during periods of convalescence.
Promotes healthy arteries
Retards the development of atherosclerosis and cardiac disorders. Sea-Buckthorn
oil are also a fairly good source of essential unsaturated fatty acids,
that is important for regulation of prostaglandin synthesis. Prostaglandins
regulates blood pressure and water-salt balance. Their role was emphasized
in many scientific researches. Sea-Buckthorn oil contains 35-60% of Palmitoleic
acid, 5-35% butyric oil acid and 0-15% linoleic acid. So high content
of essential fatty acids is fairly uncommon for a fruit. Usually oils,
animals fats and fish oils have these acids.
Anti-tumor activity of Sea-buckthorn was demonstrated in many scientific
works. Just mention one of them. Chinese scientists Li Y and Liu H from
Shanxi Medical College, Taiyuan, China published an article (IARC Sci.
Publ. 1991; 105, 568-70) in which three group of rats were fed a diet
containing carcinogens: First group (control) drunk a tap-water, second
group drunk water with Vitamin C and the third group drunk water together
with sea-buckthorn juice. The result were intrigues. The average life
span of rats in a group given sea-buckthorn juice was 270 days, when given
ascorbic acid - 220 days and in control group only 195 days. Moreover
microscopic examinations of the liver (main target of carcinogens) showed
that sea-buckthorn juice can prevent tumor production more effectively
comparing with ascorbic acid solutions and pure water.
These were discovered during experiments on patients with skin defects.
Promotes recovery from colitis, healing of erosion of the cervix, of stomach
and duodenal ulcers, and of burns affecting the mucous membranes. Also
speeds recovery from external wounds and sores, e.g. bedsores.
For healthy skin - a valuable external nutrient
As a skin nutritive and restorative
Such anti-oxsidants like vitamin E and beta-corotene effectively combat
wrinkles, dryness, and other symptoms of aging or of a neglected skin.
That is why Sea-Buckthorn oil delays the aging process externally and
enternally. Sea buckthorn oil enhances the regeneration of mucus membranes
benefiting people from menopausal women to vegetarians who do not have
a good level of fatty acids in their diet.
As a healing ointment
The oil can be used as an ointment to promote healing of burns (including
sunburn), eczema, radiation injury ulcers and small cuts or abrasions.
This healing effect is due to the beta-carotene (provitamin-A) that is
in Sea-Buckthorn oil. The oil should be applied to the skin after washing
and drying, and left for at least 20 minutes before removal. For best
results, apply in the evening and leave overnight. However, remember that
it will probably leave a temporary slight yellow-orange stain - so try
and apply evenly!
Sea-Buckthorn oil is also prescribed to treat gynecological problems such as virginities and cervical erosion. The treating for gynecological disorders and rectum fissure, applied in the form of tampons soaked in Sea-Buckthorn oil. The procedure is repeated until the injury heals.
Other applications of Sea-buckthorn
Firstly in food industry in the production of juices with tonic effect,
syrups and concentrates. The fresh berries are astringent and 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.
As a natural vitaminC additive and aroma for fruit and vegetables preserves.
As ingredient in sauces and in the production of confectionary and aromas.
Sea-buckthorn also used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. By
more about unsaturated acids 1
about unsaturated acids 2