SEA BUCKTHORN is part of a family of plants almost all native to temperate or cold regions.
The genus Hippophae includes 7 species, and the genus Elaeagnus a dozen species.
They are generally more or less thorny shrubs, capable of growing on not very fertile grounds, on stony, sandy soil or without humus thanks to an association at the roots level with a fungus of the genus Frankia.
The pioneering sea buckthorn Hippophae rhamnoides was present on a large part of the Eurasian continent at the end of the quaternary glaciation.
Its presence has reduced considerably with post-glacial warming and competition from the forest.
It is still found in the wild in the majority of European countries as well as in North Africa in isolated areas: coastal dunes of the North Sea, access to mountain rivers, cold and steppe areas of southern Europe north and Russia. It has been introduced in Northern America.
It is also found in Asia, from Turkey to China, and in the Himalayan regions where there is also another species Hippophae tibetana.
The sea buckthorn is a shrub sometimes very thorny, bushy, with deciduous, narrow leaves, with a single rib, with a pale green upper face and whitish, slightly silvery lower face.
There are male and female trees .
The flowers of small size appear in spring before the leaves and the abundant fruits, yellow-orange when ripe, ovoid (5 to 10mm in diameter sometimes more) can persist on the tree during the winter.
The fruits (pulp and seed) are interesting for their content in vitamins, phenolic compounds, dietetic and cosmetic lipids.
The bark of small branches and buds are also medicinal but little used.
Sea buckthorn is now grown on large areas in Russia, China and now in Canada.
Elaeagnus are quite close to sea buckthorn, they are used especially in Asia for their fruits.
In Europe they are used to make windbreaks or hedges to fence the gardens, they are sometimes evergreen hybrids .
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
SEA BUCKTHORN FRUIT
The fruit PULP contains:
- Sugars (fructose, glucose) and alcohol sugars including L-quebrachitol (cyclitol which can cause digestive intolerance at high doses).
- Unsaturated or monounsaturated lipids: fatty substances with palmitic and palmitoleic acid.
- Vitamins: vitamin C (variable but very important content between 100 and 1500 mg / 100g depending on the crop varieties); pro-vitamins A (lycopene, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin) which give the orange color to the fruit, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin K.
- Protective phenolic compounds: flavonoids, flavonols and anthocyanin pigments.
- A little protein, phytosterols (mainly beta-sitosterol), dietary fiber and mineral substances.
It is therefore a small nourishing fruit, full of vitamins and tissue protective substances, without toxic compounds (alkaloids or saponins).
THE "SEED" OF SEA BUCKTHORN AND SEA BUCKTHORN OIL
The sea buckthorn fruit contains an achene which is the real seed, the pulp being a derivative of the floral receptacle.
The achene or "seed" contains lipids mainly containing unsaturated fatty acids, medium composition:
Unsaturated fatty acids:
Linoleic acid (omega-6) 30-40%
Linolenic acid (omega-3) 20-30%
Oleic acid (omega-9) 20%
Palmitoleic acid (omega-7)
Saturated fatty acids :
Palmitic acid (7.37%), stearic acid (3.05%)
The oil extracted from sea buckthorn seeds is highly unsaturated so it goes rancid fairly quickly but it protects the skin and can be incorporated into food (interesting contribution in omega 3 and 6).
This oil also contains provitamins A (carotenoids), vitamin E and phytosterols which increase its interest for use in cosmetology.
THE DIETETIC AND NOURISHING Sea Buckthorn Fruit
It is a small "wild" fruit but sea buckthorn is now grown on large areas in Asia, Russia and North America.
In these extensive plantations it can be "treated" with phytosanitary products in the same way as other cultivated fruits but generally less because it is a robust plant with little fleshy fruit.
It is used :
- to balance a diet poor in vitamins and phenolic substances, in the form of juice, syrup, jam, dried fruit, fruit-almond-cereal mixtures
- there are also concentrated preparations of sea buckthorn fruit, richer in vitamin and phenolic compounds.
INDICATIONS OF SEA BUCKTHORN (FRUIT)
- STRENGTHENING IMMUNITY and the body's defenses against:
- winter infections (flu, colds),
- and the consequences of degenerative diseases (cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease).
Sea buckthorn oil (fruit and seed)
This oil is dietetic: cardiovascular protection (coronary insufficiency), anti-inflammatory (rheumatism, arthritis).
Some phytotherapists recommend it in case of peptic ulcer.
It is also an oil with cosmetic properties: skin protection, hair and nail care.
Bark and buds of sea buckthorn
According to some fairly old studies, sea buckthorn bark contains potentially anti-cancer substances.
However, they have not been the subject of recent investigations.
In gemmotherapy, sea buckthorn buds have the same indications as the fruit:
- strengthening of immunity,
- fight against viral infections,
- and protection of the cardiovascular system.
CULTIVATION OF THE SEA BUCKTHORN
The sea buckthorn is an undemanding and resistant but slow growing shrub.
It supports very low temperatures but is not adapted to the hot climate or Mediterranean type (except in altitude).
It is a shrub which is satisfied with a ground where many other fruit trees would not grow.
The sea buckthorn in association with the fungus of the genus frankia is capable of capturing nitrogen from the air (like a legume), and thus slowly enriching the soil with nitrate, it is a "pioneer" plant.
Propagation takes place by sowing, by cuttings or by separating suckers.
There are less thorny crop varieties, some with large fruits, others with very numerous small fruits.
Naturally, the fruits of the sea buckthorn tree persist on the tree for part of the winter.
There is a natural spread by birds and certain mammals that feed on fruits and leaves
THE ELEAGNUS, SHRUBS SIMILAR TO THE SEA BUCKTHORN
In Asia several species of eleagnus are appreciated for their dietetic and medicinal fruits, for example: Elaeagnus umbellata, Elaeagnus angustifolia or "Bohemian olive tree", Elaeagnus multiflora or "Japanese goumi".
In the West, some Eleagnus that can bear being pruned are chosen to make garden hedges : Elaeagnus angustifolia, Elaeagnus pungens (often thorny) and especially Elaeagnus ebbingei with dense and persistent foliage.
All these species are capable of growing on poor soil and even by the sea, bees appreciate their dicrete flowers with a sweet scent, and their fruits are edible and vitaminized.
In some areas they can become invasive.
SEA BUCKTHORN AND ELEAGNUS, WILD SHRUBS WITH DIETETIC AND MEDICINAL FRUITS
The sea buckthorn is a shrub very resistant to cold and easy to cultivate which has very interesting fruits on the dietetic and medicinal plan: abundance of vitamins, nourishing, oleaginous.
Eleagnus are similar plants, some are very popular in Asia for their fruit.
They are mainly used in Europe to make gardens hedges (dense and persistent foliage).
Copyright 2020 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel