Sea Buckthorn – a Cocktail of Vitamins and Health Benefits on the Thorny Shrub
For hundreds of years Sea Buckthorn was used in folk medicine for preventing and treating various ailments. Yes, the berries of it are very acidic and astringent, but in combination with sugar or sweet juice (such as apple or grape) it tastes very good. Just remember the delicious taste of the Sea Buckthorn jam… Very nutritious.
The biological name of the plant is Hippophae Rhamnoides. This deciduous shrub belongs to the genus Hippophae and to the family Elaeagnaceae.
The other known names of the Sea Buckthorn are Siberian pineapple, Sea Berry, Sandthorn or Swallowthorn. The name might be related to the fact that the shrub used to grow on sand dunes along the sea beaches. According to another legend, Sea Buckthorn leaves were the preferable food of Pegasus (flying horse). It's botanical name "Hippophae" means “shiny horse” in translation from Greek.
Sea Buckthorn has nothing in common with regular Buckthorn, they are from different families.
How does the multi-branched, thorny shrub looks like? It is a medium deciduous shrub 2 to 4 m in height. It is deciduous, there are male and female plants. Only female plants produce fruit. You can never determine what type of plant is growing until the flowers are produced. If it produces the orange berries – you have a female plant, if the flowers are brownish – you have a male plant.
Common Sea-buckthorn branches are very thorny, dense and stiff. The leaves of the shrub are pale silvery-green, the flowers are yellow and very small. The female plants produce orange berries that are extremely juicy and rich in vitamins.
Sea buckthorn plants are very hardy and can withstand temperatures of -43 to 40 °C, the berries of the plant are important food for some birds in winter. It grows almost everywhere from the Atlantic coasts of Europe to northwestern China. In Western Europe it grows mainly in sea coasts, in central Asia it is more widespread in dry semi-desert sites. It was also introduced to the northern Himalayas and Canada.
The shrub is ratherundemanding. The plant grows naturally in sandy soil and in cold climates. As for harvesting – it is rather difficult due to the thorny nature of the shrubs. The common technique ‘to remove an entire branch’ is not very effective though the simplest. The best way is to use a berry-shaker, than the berries and the branch are not damaged.
Most parts of the plant can be used in folk medicine: the bark, leaves, fruits, and seeds. But Sea Buckthorn is especially valued for its golden-orange fruits, which provide plenty of useful components.
The tree and its parts can be useful for lots of products on the market: cosmetics, teas, pharmaceuticals, sport and health drinks, food (jams and jellies), beverages, candy, liqueurs, animal feed, etc.
Most common form of the Sea Buckthorn that is available on the market is different oil extracts (the oil can be prepared from seed, fruit pulp and from fruit residue. The difference is also in the form of the preparation: obtained by expression, solvent extraction, steam distillation or other methods.
Sea Buckthorn is valued for its berries rich in vitamins, flavonoids, oils rich in essential fatty acids, and other healthful components. Fruits combine a cocktail of components that are usually found only separately. It contains the highest content of the vitamin C (for any plant) – takes the 4-th place (after rose-hips, hot chili pepper and sweet red pepper), and stands on the second place for the amount of vitamin E. The high content of b-carotene is also high valued component of the shrub; it gives such a color to the berries (from yellow to red). The berries can contain up to ten different vitamins as well as trace elements, fruit acid, sugar and oil. Sea buckthorn is rich in proteins, and contains up to 18 amino acids. There are also over 24 chemical elements that are present in the juice, including calcium, iron, and manganese.
What does the components of the Sea Buckthorn do? They promote blood circulation by removing blood stasis, eliminate inflammation, kill pain and bacteria, soften blood vessel, prevent arteriosclerosis, protect the heart, treat gastrointestinal disease, prevent cancer and aging( it promotes the formation of antibody). The plant also balances and enhances the immune system, improves cholesterol profit and heart conditions.
The plant is a good antioxidant mainly thanks to its flavonoids and vitamin C content. Sea Buckthorn contains such vitamins as E, A, B1, B2; carotenoids: beta-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene; folate, fruit acids, flavonoids, carbohydrates, essential minerals (K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Cr and Se), amino-acids (proteins), unsaturated and saturated fatty-acids. It’s a splendid healthy cocktail of everything that our body needs for good functioning. Moreover, vitamins with antioxidant properties form a natural line of defense against free radicals on the skin's surface, or inside the body. They catch free radicals and neutralize them. The main components that are involved in the job are vitamin A (derived from -carotene), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (-tocopherol) and flavonoids.
Sea Buckthorn also contains such an important component as palmitoleic acid, that is a valuable topical agent in treating burns and healing wounds. As well as it has a UV-blocking activity and emollient properties. When taken orally this fatty acid can essentially nourish the skin and help in atopic dermatitis. It is also used topically for burns and infections.
The researches of Sea Buckthorn‘s benefits are still under the investigation. Now there are four more areas of the researches (besides internal and topical therapy for a variety of skin diseases):
Nature gives us wonderful treasures for our health in almost every plant, herb, bush, tree, or flower. Folk medicine and herbalists prove the fact that you can be health with the help of what is around of you. You should just get to know its major advantages.
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