Sea buckthorn oil has a long history of use in relieving conditions associated with dry skin and mucous membranes. Sea buckthorn oil benefits conditions such as eczema, dry eyes, vaginal dryness, dry brittle nails and dry hair. The ancient Greeks even fed sea buckthorn to their horses to increase the glossiness of their coat – hence its scientific name, Hippophae, which means shining horse – and reported it improved their strength and stamina, too.
In traditional Chinese medicine, sea buckthorn is used to soothe dryness and soften the skin, reduce inflammation and promote blood flow, while in Russia it is used to treat eczema, psoriasis, eye diseases and thrombosis. Russian cosmonauts are even said to have eaten sea buckthorn berries and used the oil as a skin lotion to protect them from radiation in space.
Sea Buckthorn seed oil and seed buckthorn fruit oil
There are two types of sea buckthorn oil. A darker red, viscous oil is derived from the fruits, while a lighter coloured, orange oil is derived from the seeds.
Sea buckthorn fruit oil is one of the few rich sources of omega-7 fatty acids in the form of palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that is also found in macadamia nuts and some cold-water oily fish. In contrast, sea buckthorn seed oil contains an ideal balance of omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6s plus omega-9 fatty acids (oleic acid).
Blending these two oils results in a unique balance of beneficial fatty acids plus antioxidants, including vitamin E, flavonoid polyphenols and carotenoid pigments. These pigments give sea buckthorn oil its lovely rich, orange-red hue.
Sea buckthorn oil is also a good source of plant sterols which lower cholesterol.
Its complex composition makes Sea Buckthorn oil an effective, natural internal moisturiser and conditioner with anti-ageing properties.
Sea buckthorn oil is increasingly added to shaving products to moisturise skin, prevent dryness, soothe redness and prevent a shaving rash.
Sea buckthorn oil and skin
The omega-7 palmitoleic acid found in sea buckthorn oil is an important building block for healthy skin and mucous membranes. It is used externally in cosmetic and medicinal creams, and taken as a food supplement to promote skin quality, boost wound healing and reduce dryness and itching.
One study tested the effects of a sea buckthorn oil in water emulsion on the skin of healthy, males, who either applied the sea buckthorn oil lotion, or a placebo, every day for 8 weeks. There was a significant improvement in skin hydration in those using the sea buckthorn oil lotion compared to placebo, with improved skin barrier functions.
Sea buckthorn oil is included in creams designed to help reduce skin dryness and redness, and is beneficial for eczema and rosacea.
Sea buckthorn oil and dry eyes
The unique blend of omega-3s, omega-7s and omega-9s in sea buckthorn oil, as well as its antioxidants, help to improve the quality of natural oils secreted into the tear film by Meibomian gland cells to lubricate the eyes and reduce tear evaporation.
Research involving 86 people with dry eyes showed that taking sea buckthorn oil capsules (2 grams per day) for 3 months, significantly improved eye redness and burning compared with placebo. These effects were thought to relate to the anti-inflammatory properties of the carotenoids and vitamin E present.
Sea buckthorn oil supplements are ideal for anyone who sits in front of a computer screen for long periods of time to help offset any tendency towards dry eyes.
Sea buckthorn oil and vaginal dryness
Female intimate dryness is a common and under-reported problem. It is often associated with hormone changes caused by hormonal methods of contraception, childbirth and menopause. Vaginal dryness can also occur as a feature of Sjogren’s syndrome – an autoimmune condition affecting moisture secreting glands.
A study involving 98 postmenopausal women with troublesome vaginal dryness, itching or burning, compared the effects of taking sea buckthorn oil capsules (3 grams daily) or placebo for three months.
Significant improvements in symptoms occurred with the sea buckthorn oil, and vaginal lining integrity as assessed by a gynaecologist. Those who took the oil every day were three times more likely to show significant improvements than those not taking the oil.
Sea buckthorn oil and heart health
The omega-3s, omega-7s and omega-9s in sea buckthorn oil help to improve the flexibility of arterial walls, its plant sterols have beneficial effects on cholesterol balance, and its antioxidants inhibit blood platelet clumping to help protect against unwanted blood clots.
The results from 11 studies, involving over 900 people (5 in healthy volunteers, 3 studies in people with fatty liver disease, and 3 in people with raised cholesterol levels) concluded that sea buckthorn oil did not affect blood lipid levels in healthy people. However, in those with raised lipids and at high risk of cardiovascular disease, taking sea buckthorn oil significantly reduced total cholesterol, ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, while increasing levels of ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol.
Sea buckthorn oil dose
The dose depends on why you are taking it. For general skin health, 500mg to 1g daily is often used.
For treating significant dry skin conditions, dry eyes and vaginal dryness, higher doses of 2g to 3g per day have been used in clinical trials.
Sea buckthorn oil is especially helpful for women around the time of menopause, but it can be taken by men, too, for its cardiovascular benefits and to treat dry skin and dry eyes.
Very high doses can impart a musky smell from the palmitoleic acid, which breaks down in skin oil to produce 2-nonenal, which smells of musty old books. If this occurs, reduce the dose.
Have you used sea buckthorn oil products or supplements? How effective did you find them? Please share your experience via the comments below.