There are seven known sea buckthorn species, the Hippophae rhamnoides being the most widely distributed. Sea buckthorn is a berry of harsh conditions, and it requires plenty of light to survive.
Sea buckthorn was one of the first plants in Finland to gain footing after the ice sheet started to pull back after the Ice Age. The plant settled on the wind-swept shores of the Gulf of Bothnia and western parts of the Åland Islands.
Sea buckthorn has spread to Central Asia and Europe, all the way from the shores of the Black Sea to the northwestern shores of the continent. In addition, sea buckthorn has spread to Canada and the United States (1).
The berries of sea buckthorn take their time to ripen. Sea buckthorn needs about four months to transform from a flower to a ripe berry; apples, which are significantly larger in size, take as long as sea buckthorn.
The bigger relative of sea buckthorn can be found in Asia, in the mountain ranges of China and Russia (2). The health effects of sea buckthorn berries have been known to Tibetan and Indian medicine for over 1000 years. The ancient Tibetans used sea buckthorn, for example, for treating gynecological illnesses, fever and tumors. Chinese medicine has used sea buckthorn for indigestion, cough and pain alleviation (3, 4, 5).
1. Yang B, Kallio HP. Fatty acid composition of lipids in sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) berries of different origins. J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49;1939-1947.
2. Guliyev VB, Gul M, Yildirim A. Hippophae rhamnoides L.: chromatographic methods to determine chemical composition, use in traditional medicine and pharmacological effects. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2004;812:291-307.
3. Xing J, Yang B, Dong Y, Wang B, Wang J, Kallio HP. Effects of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) seed and pulp oils on experimental models of gastric ulcer in rats. Fitoterapia . 2002;73:644-650.
4. Yang B, Karlsson RM, Oksman PH, Kallio HP. Phytosterols in sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) berries: identification and effects of different origins and harvesting times. J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49:5620-5629.
5. Goel HC, Prasad J, Singh S, Sagar RK, Kumar IP, Sinha AK. Radioprotection by a herbal preparation of Hippophae rhamnoides , RH-3, against whole body lethal irradiation in mice. Phytomedicine. 2002;9:15-25.