Sea buckthorn oil has been touted for support with dryness, beauty applications, everyday immune support, and even hair growth. With all the reported benefits, it’s easy to wonder how one plant could possibly provide them.
Looking at the latest research into sea buckthorn’s chemical makeup can help us better understand the myriad ways sea buckthorn supports our health.
The best-known benefits of sea buckthorn oil come from its omega fatty acids and antioxidants. Things like minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids are considered primary compounds or metabolites. These are the crucial compounds that help plants go from seed to full grown organisms.
Secondary metabolites are compounds which do not contribute to the growth of a plant but produce selective advantage or help the plant simply survive better. These compounds are what make flowers beautiful and sea buckthorn berries vibrant orange.
We already know that sea buckthorn oil contains an impressive number of primary compounds. But researchers have learned that uncovering the secondary metabolites of the plant may be the key to understanding how one plant can have so many benefits to human health.
A Recent Study on Sea Buckthorn’s Nutritional Compounds
A 2021 study focused on identifying phenolic compounds, triterpenoids, and minerals from several species of sea buckthorn plant. They looked at the seeds, berries, leaves, branches, and other parts of the plants.
The researchers were hoping to get a more comprehensive understanding of sea buckthorn’s nutritional makeup- and not just in the berries or seeds. Why? According to the paper:
“Nowadays, traditionally grown plants are the center of attention and the demand for their production is increasing, due to the strategy of inhibiting or delaying diseases using a natural diet.”
The traditional method of growing and harvesting sea buckthorn (the same way we harvest and grow our plants) requires a selection of fruit bearing branches to be removed from the tree. The berries and seeds are harvested, and in many cases the leaves are too.
Highly Nutritious Sea Buckthorn Plants and Their Potential
However, sea buckthorn plants are so rich with nutrients throughout the entire plant, including the bark, that those “throw away” parts are valued for their nutrition and used in different applications. As the paper mentions, the by-products from harvesting sea buckthorn branches or even the material left behind after processing berries for oil and juice may contain value for many other purposes.
“by-products can be used to) extract pigments, used as a natural food coloring, for the production of fodder, tea-type infusion, powders, nutraceuticals, antioxidant additives used to stabilize and fortify food, such as bread and other baked goods, as well as an unconventional source of bio-oil with a potential use in the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries.”
Why They did the Research
There had not yet been a thorough look into the nutrients and secondary metabolites found in every part of sea buckthorn plants. Researchers were looking at the nutritional potential of the by-products of sea buckthorn farming and manufacturing.
The Findings of the 2021 Study
During this research, a total of 11 triterpenoids were identified. A few never previously observed triterpenoids were found, mostly in the berries in the tested groups. The leaves of the plants had significantly less triterpenoid content. So much so that there were five times more of the compound found in the berries versus the leaves.
“Skins and flesh are a valuable source of triterpenoids, unlike leaves, which in turn accumulate significant concentrations of minerals, and quercetin and isorhamnetin derivatives.”
Triterpenoids in Sea Buckthorn Oil
Some of the triterpenoids found in the research included Maslinic acid, Pomolic acid, Corosolic acid, Betulinic acid, Oleanolic acid, Ursolic acid, Betulin. But what are triterpenoids, and why should you care about them?
Benefits of Triterpenoids
It’s common knowledge that a diet which includes vegetables and fruits reduces common health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Plant foods contain high levels of triterpenoids, a group of phytochemicals. Researchers are now beginning to understand the many health benefits and biological activities that they can offer.
Studied Health Benefits of Triterpenoids:
Hypolipidemic and Lower Cholesterol
Another important group of compounds found in sea buckthorn are polyphenols. While you may not be familiar with the term, phenolic compounds are in all the fruits, veggies, and spices you eat.
There are over 8,000 known polyphenols and scientists discover more each year doing important chemical research on plants and herbs. Polyphenols can act as powerful antioxidants in the body, helping the body repair cells and cleanse the body on a cellular level.
You may see isolated polyphenol supplements like resveratrol on the shelf at the supplement store. However, you can get an amazing array of these compounds from everyday fruits, veggies, and superfoods like sea buckthorn.
Polyphenols found in Sea Buckthorn:
Why Polyphenols are Important
Healthy diets with rich sources of polyphenol might be key in avoiding chronic health issues later in life. Researchers have observed many health benefits in different studies using the polyphenols found in sea buckthorn.
Studied Health Benefits of Polyphenols from Sea Buckthorn:
Blood Pressure Benefits
Healthy Blood Sugar Benefits
Multiple Benefits from One Plant Source
While science is just starting to understand the full potential of sea buckthorn to develop future therapies, this research helps us better understand why sea buckthorn oil has so many applications from beauty to health products.
Triterpenoids and Polyphenols are just two classes of secondary metabolites that make sea buckthorn oil so healthy for the human body. The primary metabolites and secondary metabolites in sea buckthorn work together creating benefits for many areas of health.
Karolina Tkacz, Aneta Wojdyło, Igor Piotr Turkiewicz, Paulina Nowicka,
Triterpenoids, phenolic compounds, macro- and microelements in anatomical parts of sea buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides L.) berries, branches and leaves,
Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 103, 2021, 104107, ISSN 0889-1575,
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Zadernowski, Ryszard & Naczk, M. & Czaplicki, Sylwester & Rubinskiene, Marina & Szałkiewicz, M.. (2005). Composition of phenolic acids in sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoidesL.) berries. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 82. 175-179. 10.1007/s11746-005-5169-1.
Veronique, T., Muk Wing, Y., & Christian, D. (2021). Seabuckthorn Polyphenols: Characterization, Bioactivities and Associated Health Benefits. Phenolic Compounds. doi: 10.5772/intechopen.98706