Sea buckthorn is a deciduous
shrub that produces golden berries, found natively in the Chinese/Russian Mountains. Although very acidic and astringent, i.e. unpleasant to eat raw, the berries can be 'bletted
', frozen and/or turned into juice to decrease the acidity. The juice has a freezing point of −22 degrees Celsius allowing it to remain a liquid even in sub-zero temperatures.
This is possibly why it was very popular for warriors to carry on their treks, where even water would freeze. The properties in the berries have astonishing nutritional value, especially as an antioxidant. Popularity of using the berry for health purposes is attributed to 8th century Tibetan doctor Yu Yuendan Gongbu
, who studied this berry.
”There are both male and female plants; the latter develop berries that are round to almost egg-shaped, and up to 1 cm (3/8 inch) long.” (Research)
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Magnoliophyta
- Class: Magnoliopsida
- Order: Rosales
- Family: Elaeagnaceae
- Genus: Hippophae
” The genus name Hippophae is classical Latin for ‘shining horse,’ a name that was given in ancient times after it was found that feeding the leaves to horses improved their health and made their hair shiny.” (Research)
A hardy berry
“The plant grows naturally in sandy soil at an altitude of 1,200-4,500 meters (4,000-14,000 feet) in cold climates.” (Itmonline) Since its -22 degree Celsius freezing point as a liquid, Genghis Khan is said to have kept supply of the juice to keep up the vitality of his invading warriors. The thorny bush keeps away berry eating predators who are not wary. The roots go down deep into the soil, which is partially why it’s great erosion protection. (It also fixes nitrogen levels in the soil)
Sea buckthorn is naturally resistant to pests, resulting in limited need for pesticides.
Where most maternal plant’s fruit falls away at maturity, sea buckthorn stay onto the bush until removed by wildlife. This is why sea buckthorn is an important winter food for birds, most notably Fieldfares.
It sounds like melting rock from gold. “When the berries are pressed, the resulting sea-buckthorn juice separates into three layers: on top is a thick, orange cream; in the middle, a layer containing sea-buckthorn's characteristic high content of saturated and polyunsaturated fats; and the bottom layer is sediment and juice. Containing fat sources applicable for cosmetic purposes, the upper two layers can be processed for skin creams and liniments, whereas the bottom layer can be used for edible products.” (Wikipedia)
Sea buckthorn has also been planted as soil erosion control in many parts of northern China. Canada imported many bushes from Siberia in the 1930’s, hoping to develop a good agriculture product. Nepal has begun using it as firewood, saving deforestation. Western society, since 2005, has been targeting the berry as a health product. It has been put in many health drinks such as eXfuze.
Three types of oils are made from sea buckthorn. Seed oil, pulp oil, and fruit residue oil. The latter has the highest concentration of carotenoids with 1280-1860 milligrams per 100 grams of oil. Good portions of Vitamin C, E, K, and folic acid, are also found in the fruit’s properties.
Much research has gone into searching for a cure for cancer. Although no human tests have been done yet, sea buckthorn has proven as a good inhibitory of cancer cells. What human tests have been done for other diseases or disorders, include cardiovascular disease, ulcers, and liver cirrhosis. “In a double-blind clinical trial conducted in China, 128 patients with ischemic heart disease were given total flavonoids of sea buckthorn at 10 mg each time, three times daily, for 6 weeks. The patients had a decrease in cholesterol level and improved cardiac function; also they had less angina than those receiving the control drug.” (Itmonlline) Other studies have shown sea buckthorn to normalize liver enzymes, treat gastric ulcers, and a topical skin treatment for burns.