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Top 12 Health Benefits of Sea Buckthorn Oil
It is extracted from the berries, leaves and seeds of the sea buckthorn plant (Hippophae rhamnoides), which is a small shrub that grows at high altitudes in the northwest Himalayan region (1).
Sometimes referred to as the holy fruit of the Himalayas, sea buckthorn can be applied to the skin or ingested.
A popular remedy in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines, it may provide health benefits ranging from supporting your heart to protecting against diabetes, stomach ulcers and skin damage.
Here are 12 science-backed benefits of sea buckthorn oil.
1. Rich in Many Nutrients
For instance, it is naturally full of antioxidants, which help protect your body against aging and illnesses like cancer and heart disease (4).
Interestingly, sea buckthorn oil may also be one of the only plant foods known to provide all four omega fatty acids—omega-3, omega-6, omega-7 and omega-9 (13).
Sea buckthorn oil is rich in various vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and other plant compounds potentially beneficial to your health.
2. Promotes Heart Health
Sea buckthorn oil may benefit heart health in several different ways.
For starters, its antioxidants may help reduce risk factors of heart disease, including blood clots, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
In one small study, 12 healthy men were given either 5 grams of sea buckthorn oil or coconut oil per day. After four weeks, the men in the sea buckthorn group had significantly lower markers of blood clots (14).
In another study, taking 0.75 ml of sea buckthorn oil daily for 30 days helped reduce blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure. Levels of triglycerides, as well as total and "bad" LDL cholesterol, also dropped in those who had high cholesterol.
However, the effects on people with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels were less pronounced (15).
A recent review also determined that sea buckthorn extracts may reduce cholesterol levels in people with poor heart health—but not in healthy participants (16).
Sea buckthorn oil may aid your heart by reducing blood pressure, improving blood cholesterol levels and protecting against blood clots. That said, effects may be strongest in people with poor heart health.
3. May Protect Against Diabetes
Sea buckthorn oil may also help prevent diabetes.
One small human study notes that sea buckthorn oil may help minimize blood sugar spikes after a carb-rich meal (19).
Because frequent, long-term blood sugar spikes can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, preventing them is expected to reduce your risk.
However, more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Sea buckthorn may help improve insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity, both of which could protect against type 2 diabetes—though more research is needed.
4. Protects Your Skin
Compounds in sea buckthorn oil may boost your skin health when applied directly.
Similarly, animal studies reveal that sea buckthorn oil may also help reduce inflammation following UV exposure, protecting skin against sun damage (22).
In a seven-week study in 11 young men, a mix of sea buckthorn oil and water applied directly to the skin promoted skin elasticity better than a placebo (24).
Keep in mind that more human studies are needed.
Sea buckthorn oil may help your skin heal from wounds, sunburns, frostbite and bedsores. It may also promote elasticity and protect against dryness.
5. May Boost Your Immune System
Sea buckthorn oil may help protect your body against infections.
Experts attribute this effect, in large part, to the high flavonoid content of the oil.
In one test-tube study, sea buckthorn oil prevented the growth of bacteria such as E. coli (12).
In others, sea buckthorn oil offered protection against influenza, herpes and HIV viruses (4).
That said, research in humans is lacking.
Sea buckthorn oil is rich in beneficial plant compounds such as flavonoids and antioxidants, which may help your body fight infections.
6. May Support a Healthy Liver
Sea buckthorn oil may also contribute to a healthy liver.
That's because it contains healthy fats, vitamin E and carotenoids, all of which may safeguard liver cells from damage (29).
In one study, sea buckthorn oil significantly improved markers of liver function in rats with liver damage (30).
In another study, people with cirrhosis—an advanced form of liver disease—were given 15 grams of sea buckthorn extract or a placebo three times per day for six months.
Those in the sea buckthorn group increased their blood markers of liver function significantly more than those given a placebo (31).
In two other studies, people with non-alcoholic liver disease given either 0.5 or 1.5 grams of sea buckthorn 1–3 times daily saw blood cholesterol, triglyceride and liver enzyme levels improve significantly more than those given a placebo (32, 33).
Although these effects seem promising, more studies are necessary to make firm conclusions.
Compounds in sea buckthorn may aid liver function, though more studies are needed.
7. May Help Fight Cancer Cells
Compounds present in sea buckthorn oil may help fight cancer. These protective effects may be caused by the flavonoids and antioxidants in the oil.
For instance, sea buckthorn is rich in quercetin, a flavonoid which appears to help kill cancer cells (8).
However, the reported cancer-fighting effects of sea buckthorn oil are much milder than those of chemotherapy drugs (38).
Keep in mind that these effects have not yet been tested in humans, so more studies are needed.
Sea buckthorn oil provides certain beneficial plant compounds which may offer some protection against cancer. However, its effects are likely mild—and human research is lacking.
8–12. Other Potential Benefits
Sea buckthorn oil is said to give additional health benefits. However, not all claims are supported by sound science. Those with the most evidence include:
10. May treat dry eyes: In one study, daily sea buckthorn intake was linked to reduced eye redness and burning (42).
12. May reduce symptoms of depression: Animal studies report that sea buckthorn may have antidepressant effects. However, this hasn't been studied in humans (44).
It's important to note that most of these studies are small and very few involve humans. Therefore, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Sea buckthorn may offer an array of additional health benefits, ranging from reduced inflammation to menopause treatment. However, more studies—especially in humans—are needed.
The Bottom Line
Sea buckthorn oil is a popular alternative remedy for a variety of ailments.
It is rich in many nutrients and may improve the health of your skin, liver and heart. It may also help protect against diabetes and aid your immune system.
As this plant product has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, it may be worth trying to give your body a boost.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
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