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14 Interesting Health Benefits of Sea Buckthorn + Side Effects

Written by Helen Quach, BS (Biochemistry) | Last updated:
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Helen Quach, BS (Biochemistry) | Last updated:

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A common plant used in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as in jams for its sweet flavor, sea buckthorn (Hippophae Ramnoides) is a thorny berry-filled bush found in Central Asia and Europe that can help your body in amazing ways.

Sea Buckthorn has applications in cancer prevention and diabetes treatment and acts as a strong antioxidant. Read this article to discover the surprising benefits of using this plant in your diet and as an extract.

What is Sea Buckthorn?

Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides) is a berry-filled bush from Europe and Central Asia that has long been used in traditional medicine to prevent aging, promote heart health, and clear up the skin.

Modern science has proven many of these benefits to be true, along with many others. The high abundance of antioxidant chemicals, vitamins, and flavonoids make sea buckthorn a great health product.

Chemical Composition

Sea Buckthorn contains [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]:

Vitamins and Minerals

  • Vitamin A – helps to maintain healthy teeth and bones (found in the berries)
  • B12 – helps with energy production and forming red blood cells (berries)
  • C – promotes wound healing, healthy teeth and gums (berries)
  • E – helps to form red blood cells (berries)
  • K – crucial for blood clotting to stop bleeding (berries)
  • Lycopene – an antioxidant chemical that protects DNA and proteins
  • Potassium – needed for fluid balance and muscle function
  • Calcium – promotes healthy bones, teeth, and keeps blood pressure constant
  • Magnesium – needed for making protein, immune system health
  • Iron – needed to carry oxygen around the body
  • Phosphorus – maintains body pH


  • Hippophaeosides (1-3) – (found in the leaves)
  • Hippophins (found in the seeds)
  • Catechin (leaves)
  • Epicatechin (leaves)
  • Gallocatechin (leaves)
  • Epigallocatechin (leaves)

Fatty Acids

  • Palmitic (found in the berries)
  • Oleitic (berries)
  • Linoleic (berries)


Flavonoids have a high level of free radical scavenging activity, which contributes to sea buckthorn’s protection against oxidative stress, tumor growth, ulcers, inflammation, and stress-induced conditions [6].

Linoleic acid and other fatty acids found in sea buckthorn oil secrete chemicals, such as carotenoids and tocopherols, that help ease inflammation and repair tissues such as in the eye [7].

Health Benefits

1) Fights Oxidative Stress

In mice, a sea buckthorn leaf extract protected them against chromium-induced oxidative stress [8].

Alcoholic extracts from sea buckthorn leaves and fruits protected mouse cells against oxidative stress caused by a chemical called sodium nitroprusside. Chemicals in the extract slowed down free radical production, which in turn eliminated the stress [9].

2) May Protect the Stomach

Seed and pulp sea buckthorn oils significantly protected rats from artificially-induced ulcers [10].

In another rat study, sea buckthorn bark extract accelerated the repair of the stomach lining. It also reduced the size and severity of ulcer damage compared to the control group [11].

3) May Reduce Inflammation

In rats, an injected dose of sea buckthorn extracts largely reduced the amount of swelling caused by an injection of M. tuberculosis. Sea buckthorn extract has possible uses against arthritis inflammation [12].

The chemical called parallel methanol from the leaves lowered inflammatory cytokine (TNF-α, IL-6, and IFN-γ) levels, and decreased inflammation in mice cells [13].

During inflammation, inflammatory cells release excessive amounts of nitric oxide, which furthers the severity and progression of inflammatory diseases of the skin, heart, and mouth. In mice cells, sea buckthorn extract reduced nitric oxide production and inflammatory activity [14].

4) May Fight Cancer

Sea buckthorn juice reduced the number of cancer-causing genetic abnormalities in both mice sperm and bone marrow cells protecting from the chemotherapy drug called cisplatin [15].

In another mice study, sea buckthorn extract fought against the growth of tumors in the stomachs and skin of mice. It promoted the activity of genetic components that act as anticancer agents by limiting abnormal growth and promoting cell death [16].

Sea buckthorn juice slowed cancerous tumor growth in mice organs and extended their lifespans from an average of 195 days to an average of 270 days [17].

5) Protects the Liver

In a study of 50 liver cirrhosis patients, sea buckthorn extract reduced liver cirrhosis severity in 30 patients [18].

In mice with liver cirrhosis, sea buckthorn extract also reduced the severity of the disease. Sea buckthorn sea oil was the most effective at treating liver cirrhosis [19].

6) May Protect Against Radiation

RH-3, a constituent of sea buckthorn extract, protected rats against whole body radiation. The extract leads to an 82% survival rate compared to a 0% survival rate in the control group [20].

In mice cells, sea buckthorn extracts protected against genetic deformations caused by radiation [21].

In another study, sea buckthorn extract protects DNA by promoting DNA strand linking, acting as an antioxidant, and preventing DNA link breakage [22].

7) May Alleviate Diabetes Symptoms

Sea buckthorn seed extracts lowered high blood pressure caused by a high-sugar diet in mice. It has a possible use for fighting against high blood pressure in diabetics [23].

In mice, sea buckthorn extract lowered sugar and fat levels in the blood, which are common diabetes symptoms [24].

8) Increases Wound Healing

A study on burn patients tested the effectiveness of the plant’s oil on wound recovery. They soaked the bandages of 151 burn patients with sea buckthorn oil. There were increased pain relief and faster regrowth of the skin around the wound as compared to the control group with normal bandages [25].

When applied on top of the skin, sea buckthorn leaf extract helped to speed up the healing process of skin wounds in albino rats. The extract decreased the wound size and increased the production of proteins that help to heal wounds [26].

An injection of sea buckthorn extract improved the recovery of tendon injuries in rats by promoting better fiber alignment and protein growth that contributes to the overall structure of the muscle [27].

9) Protects the Brain

Sea buckthorn leaf extract protected the brain against oxidative damage and reversed scopolamine (drug)-induced brain destruction in rats [28].

10) Boosts the Immune System

Sea buckthorn extract boosted chicks’ immune systems and decreased the effects of a toxin called T-2 that destroyed their immune systems. Fiber glucomannan combined with sea buckthorn had an additive effect [29].

It increased immune system strength and activity in rats whose immune systems were reduced by chronic stress by the toxicity of natural killer cells which are a part of the immune system response [30].

11) Fights Bacteria

Sea Buckthorn leaf extract stopped the growth of a variety of bacteria including Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Shigella dysenteriae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Staphylococcus aureus [31].

Berry and leaf extracts from the plant showed similar antibiotic effects against MRSA bacteria as the standard MRSA drug vancomycin [32].

12) Helps Treat Dry Eye Issues

The fatty acids in sea buckthorn seed and pulp oils reduced stress-induced dry eyes in mice by increasing tear secretion, with pulp oil having a much stronger effect [33].

In a human study with 86 participants, oral sea buckthorn oil fixed cold weather-induced dry eye symptoms by reversing the high level of particle concentrations on the tear film in the eye that usually happens during the winter [34].

In a 100 person study, the fatty acids of sea buckthorn oil produced chemicals that fight inflammation and help the composition of the tear film of the eye [7].

13) Improves Heart Health

Sea buckthorn extract prevented body fluid leakage into the lungs, as well as boosted the heart’s ability to resist heart stress in rats [35].

The oil manages and reduces heart damage through its antioxidant activities that maintain the normal conditions of the heart structure and chemical composition [36].

14) Improve Skin Health

Topically applied sea buckthorn oil increased mice skin thickness and helped speed up the healing process of deep cuts in the skin [37].

Sea buckthorn components also help smooth skin, reduce aging and dryness, treat frostbite and sun damage, and soothe irritation [38].

15) Reduces Clotting

Sea buckthorn oil consumed orally in a twelve-person study lowered the amount of clotting of white blood cells and therefore reduced a risk factor for heart disease [5].

Limitations & Caveats

There are few human trials of sea buckthorn available. Caution should be taken when using sea buckthorn products for their health benefits.

Side Effects & Precautions

As sea buckthorn can lower blood pressure, a possible side effect may be an excessive lowering of the blood pressure that might be harmful to the patient.

Use of sea buckthorn may slow blood clotting and should, therefore, be avoided in patients with cuts, deep injuries, or before surgery [5].

Chronic use of sea buckthorn may cause yellow staining of the skin as seen in the case of a 45-year-old that had used the product regularly for 6 months [39].

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Not enough evidence is available for the use of sea buckthorn as a medicine during pregnancy. Use caution or contact your doctor and be wary of any hypersensitivities or allergies you might experience while consuming the extract of this plant.

Natural Sources/Products

There are a variety of different products made from sea buckthorn that allow you to access the great health benefits [1, 40].

The berries can be bought in their pure form. It can also be made into juice, which is filtered to produce oil. The berries contain many of the antioxidants of the plant and can, therefore, give the user many of the health benefits listed [1, 40].

The leaves contain the important flavonoids and can be made into a tea with high concentrations of those same chemicals [1, 40].

The seeds can be made into highly concentrated oil. It is put into many cosmetic products like skin cream and soap. These can help clear the skin and reduce signs of aging [1, 40].

User Reviews

“This is a GREAT product! My Skin has cleared dramatically, my overall health is fantastic, I feel much calmer and more balanced, I will keep taking this product continuously” [41].

“I’ve taken two soft gels a day for a few weeks. I know you’re supposed to wait at least 30 days to see a difference. However, I think my skin feels softer and I noticed that my face seems more even-toned. Even my under-eye area has taken on more of a flesh tone instead of the purplish color it was before. It will take a few months before I’ll be able to see if this has helped my hair or nails” [41].

“I have found an increase in my overall feeling of well being. I’m going to keep taking Sea Buckthorn Seed oil in my everyday life. Also, the tabs are so easy to swallow” [41].


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About the Author

Helen Quach

BS (Biochemistry)

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