Thorny deciduous shrub growing to 16 ft (5 m). Has narrow silvery leaves, male or female flowers, and clusters of brownish-orange berries.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Europe and Asia, sea buckthorn grows mainly in sandy coastal areas and in dry riverbeds in mountainous regions. The berries are harvested in the autumn.
The fruit contains flavonoids, flavones, carotenoids, vitamins A, C (present in very high quantities), and E, and high levels of minerals including sulphur, selenium, zinc, and copper. The seeds contain appreciable levels of alpha-linolenic acid.
History & Folklore
The sour-tasting berries have traditionally been eaten with milk and cheese by Siberians and Tartars, who also used them to make a pleasant-tasting jelly.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Sea buckthorn berries are very high in vitamin C. They have principally been used to help improve resistance to infection. The berries are mildly astringent, and a decoction of them has been used as a wash to treat skin irritation and eruptions, and to promote healing.
Research into sea buckthorn fruit, seed, and seed oil indicates that they have definite therapeutic value. The fruit especially supports heart and circulatory health and is useful in treating conditions such as capillary fragility, arteriosclerosis, and a weak heart. The seed oil nourishes the skin, promotes tissue healing, and will often prove useful in treating eczema.