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Friday, March 5, 2010

Sea buckthorn ( Seabuckthorn ) – Some History

While I am waiting for spring shipment of plants and seeds to arrive from Lithuania I came across this anonymous article which does a very good job summarizing some of the value of this plant.  I hope you enjoy it!

The berries of Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides) are so rich in vitamins and nutrients some have speculated that the plant may have been cultivated by some ancient plant-breeder. This is intriguing.
Legends about Sea Buckthorn tell us how the ancient Greeks used it in a diet for race horses, hence it's botanical name "Hippophae" - shiny horse. According to another legend, Sea Buckthorn leaves were the preferable food of flying horse - Pegasus. One of the most striking legends refers to the custom in some ancient kingdoms to execute convicts by dropping them into barrel of boiling oil. The legend tells that if the oil in the barrel was substituted by the Sea Buckthorn oil, the convict had a chance to survive. That last property of Sea Buckthorn has not been recently tested, but clinical trials and scientific studies conducted during the 20th century in several countries confirm medicinal and nutritional value of Sea Buckthorn.
The references to medicinal use of Sea Buckthorn were found in the Ancient Greek texts attributed to Theophrastus and Dioskorid and in classic Tibetan medicinal texts, including "the RGyud Bzi" (The Four Books of Pharmacopoeia) dated to the times of Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). Herbal remedies made of Sea Buckthorn are most frequently used for the treatment of diseases of skin and digestive system. Traditional use of Sea Buckthorn oil to promote the recuperation of skin injuries and support the healing of skin diseases well agrees with the data of modern clinical studies. Medicinal value of Sea Buckthorn oil is associated with its apparent ability to promote the regeneration of the skin and mucous membranes. Sea Buckthorn oil is widely used to promote the recovery of various skin conditions, including eczema, burns, bad healing wounds, skin damaging effects of sun, therapeutic radiation treatment and cosmetic laser surgery. The preparations from the berries are also utilized to prevent gum bleeding, to help recuperate mucous membranes of the stomach and other organs. Cosmetics and skin care products made of Sea Buckthorn are valued for their rejuvenating, restorative and anti-aging action.
Sea Buckthorn is a traditional medicinal plant in many European and Asian countries. It's popularity in America is somewhat delayed, due to the fact that Sea Buckthorn is not native to this continent. Interestingly enough, many medicinal plants were brought over the centuries to the New World by the immigrants. Similarly, Sea Buckthorn was, apparently, taken to America by Russian immigrants at the beginning of 20th century.
The Sea Buckthorn industry has been thriving in Russia since the 1920's when scientists there began investigating the biologically active substances found in the fruit, leaves and bark. The first Russian factory for sea-buckthorn product development was located in Biysk. These products were utilized in the diet of Russian cosmonauts and as a cream for protection from cosmic radiation. The Chinese experience with sea-buckthorn fruit production is more recent, although traditional uses date back many centuries. Research and plantation establishment were initiated in the 1980's.

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