Sea Buckthorn

Sea buckthorn, also known in some parts as river buckthorn or white buckthorn (scientific name Hippophaë rhamnoides L.), is a very branched and thorny shrub that grows in Romania starting from coastal sands and gravels to mountainous regions, sometimes forming groves and quite extensive bushes.

Sea buckthorn is used equally in the food industry, in forestry, in pharmacy, but also as an ornamental plant. Sea buckthorn contains twice as much vitamin C as rose hips and 10 times as much as citrus fruits. In ripe fruits, the content exceeds 400–800 mg per 100 g of fresh juice. Other vitamins present in the fruit are A, B1, B2, B6, B9, E, K, P, F. We also find cellulose, beta-carotene (in a higher percentage than in carrot pulp), trace elements such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium , potassium, iron and sodium, complex oils, etc.

The leaves are entire, linear-lanceolate, gray-green on the upper side and whitish-silver on the lower side. The flowers, dioecious, are small and appear before the leaves; the male ones, sessile, have 2 sepals and 4 stamens, and the female ones are short-pediculated and have 2 sepals. The fruits are ovoid or globose, 5–10 mm long and 4–8 mm wide, green at first and yellow-orange when fully ripe.

The plant grows up to 2–5 m, has dark brown bark that turns into furrowed rhytidon. It produces scaly, silver-grey annuals, lateral branches with numerous and strong thorns, with small, hairy, bitter-tasting buds. The leaves are lanceolate, up to 6 cm long, with an obvious midrib. It makes unisexual-dioecious flowers, yellow-rusty, the male ones grouped in globular fluorescences, and the female ones in racemes. It produces “false” fruits, 6–8 mm drupes, ovoid, fleshy, orange with a very hard stone. The fruits can remain over the winter on the branches. The shrub bears fruit for 20-25 years and sprouts every year very strongly.

The fruit contains:

  • dry matter (15-20%)
  • sugars (0.05-0.5%)
  • organic acids (1.5-4%)
  • pectins (0.14-0.5)
  • polyphenols and tannins, flavonoids (1.8%)
  • cellulose (0.9%)
  • protein (1.2%)
  • particularly complex oil (8-12%)
  • β-Carotene (3.5-10%)
  • trace elements (of which we mention phosphorus 194.4 mg%, calcium 211.8 mg%, magnesium 186.1 mg%, potassium 165.1%, sodium 2.8 mg%, iron 13.84 mg%)
  • fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A <380 mg%, vitamin E 16 mg%, vitamin K, vitamin D 20 mg%)
  • water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin P, vitamin F 8 mg%, vitamin B1-B9, their amount varies between 360-2500 mg/100g fruit)
  • 18 essential amino acids
  • essential fatty acids (80-90%)

Among the essential acids we mention: oleic acid (1%), linoleic acid (3%), pantothenic acid (1.5%), palmitoleic acid (1%), heptadecanoic acid (1%), erucic acid (1%), acid succinic, malic acid, maleic acid, ascorbic acid, α and β catheron, lycopene, cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, taraxanthin, phytofluine, cantophyll, tocopherols, phytosterols, etc. The seeds also contain unsaturated fatty acids (with double or triple bonds) such as: linoleic and linolenic acid.

The leaves and bark of the shrub have a higher content of sitospherol and tocopherol. As is well known, fat-soluble vitamins are unstable in an acidic environment, and water-soluble vitamins are unstable in an alkaline environment. The preservation of these vitamins is explained by the existence of unidirectional membranes. That’s why most preparations do not have the same high vitamin content as the fruit itself.

Only mature fruits (Fructus Hippophaë) are used, both fresh and dried; they are harvested immediately after they ripen and until the first frost leaves; raw they have a sour-astringent taste. Active principles: vitamins B1, B2, C, PP, carotenoids, folic acid. Pharmacological action: general tonic, thanks to the vitamin complex it contains.

Sea buckthorn fruits are used both for therapeutic purposes in hypo- and avitaminosis, in anemia and convalescence, as well as for food purposes in the form of juices, syrups, marmalade, etc. You can also use the 2-3% infusion, using 2-3 teas a day.

Due to the composition and the presence of vitamins, sea buckthorn fruits are used to prevent colds. Sea buckthorn infusion is mainly recognized for its effect on liver diseases and lack of vitamins in the body. If a few rose hips are added to the sea buckthorn infusion, a vitaminizing tea will result.

Sea buckthorn wine can be considered a natural remedy, because it helps the body by vitaminizing it, while also having a tonic action.