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Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)


Also listed as: Hippophae rhamnoides
Related terms

Related Terms
  • 5-formyltetrahydrofolate, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, aekol, argasse, argousier (French), artificial sea-buckthorn oil, buckthorn, catechin, caffeic acid, carotenoids, cinnamic acid, common sea-buckthorn, dhar-bu (Lao (Sino-Tibetan)), dhurchuk (Hindi), Elaeagnaceae (family), Elaeagnus rhamnoides, espino armarillo, espino falso, ferulic acid, finbar (Swedish), flavonols, flavonol aglycones, folate vitamers, gallic acid, grisset, Hippophae angustifolia Lodd., Hippophae littoralis Salisb., Hippophae rhamnoides, Hippophae rhamnoides cv. Indian Summar, Hippophae rhamnoides oil, Hippophae rhamnoideum Saint-Lager, Hippophae sibirica Lodd., Hippophae stourdziana Szabó, isorhamnetin, L-ascorbic acid, meerdorn, oblepikha, oleum Hippophae, Osyris rhamnoides Scop., p-coumaric acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, phenolic acids, phylloquinone, Prielbrusie, protocatechuic acid, pulp oil, purging thorn, Rhamnoides hippophae Moench, rokitnik, salicylic acid, sallow thorn, sanddorn, sandthorn, sceitbezien, sea-buckthorn, seabuckthorn, sea-buckthorn oil, seabuckthorn oil, seabuckthorn powder, seed oil, Seedorn (German), seed residues of Hippophae rhamnoides L, shaji (Chinese), star-bu (Lao (Sino-Tibetan)), tetrahydrofolate, tindved (Danish), tocopherols, tocotrienols, total flavones of Hippophae rhamnoides L (TFH), trans-reservatrol, vanillic acid, vitamin C.
  • Note: Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) should not be confused with alder buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), or cascara/California buckthorn (Rhamnus purshiana), although these plants have similar common names.

  • Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is found throughout Europe and Asia, particularly eastern Europe and central Asia. The plant's orange fruit and the oil from its pulp and seeds have been used traditionally for skin conditions, coughing, phlegm reduction, and digestive disorders.
  • Sea buckthorn has been used for centuries in Mongolia, China, and Tibet. In Tibet, sea buckthorn is recommended for pulmonary disorders, cough, colds, fever, inflammation, abscesses, toxicity, constipation, tumors, and gynecological diseases. According to the Chinese Pharmacopeia, internal use of sea buckthorn is recommended as a pain reliever, cough suppressant, expectorant, digestive tonic, and blood flow promoter. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), sea buckthorn is mainly used as an expectorant and demulcent (soothing agent).
  • In Russia, sea buckthorn seed and fruit oil have been used topically for eczema, psoriasis burns, frostbite, lupus, and cervical erosion, and internally for blood clots as well as eye disorders. In Tajikistan, sea buckthorn flowers are used to soften the skin. In other parts of central Asia, the leaves are used internally for gastrointestinal and skin disorders and topically for rheumatoid arthritis. In India, sea buckthorn fruit is used to treat lung, gastrointestinal, heart, blood, liver, and metabolic disorders.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *

Study results are mixed. Sea buckthorn extract taken with blueberry extract may have antioxidant properties. More study is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made.


Study results are mixed. More study is needed in this area before a recommendation can be made.


Sea buckthorn oil is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) preparation derived from the fruits of sea buckthorn. In one clinical trial, application of sea buckthorn oil seemed to help skin burns.


Sea buckthorn may help to improve cardiovascular conditions. More, higher quality research is needed in this area.


Sea buckthorn extract may improve liver health in people with cirrhosis. Although the results are intriguing, additional higher quality research is needed in this area.


There is not enough scientific evidence to make a firm conclusion about the efficacy of sea buckthorn for treatment of the common cold.


One poor quality study indicated that Hippophae oil may be beneficial when added to other therapies for gastric ulcer. More high-quality research is needed in this area.


Early study has been conducted in patients with high blood pressure. Additional clinical research is needed in this area.


Early study has been conducted in children but more research is needed before a recommendation can be made.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Abscesses, ACE-inhibitor activity, aging, analgesic (pain-reliever), angina (chest pain), antibacterial, antihelmintic (expels worms), antiplatelet, antitussive (cough suppressant), arthritis, asthma, astringent, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), bedsores, blood flow enhancement, cancer, chemotherapy adjuvant, colds, colitis (inflammation of the colon), cosmetics, demulcent (soothing agent), dengue, diarrhea, digestive stimulant, digestive tonic, dry skin, ear infections, eczema, enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine), expectorant, fatigue, fever, food uses, frostbite, gastrointestinal disorders, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gout, gynecological disorders, infection, hepatoprotection (liver protection), high cholesterol, immunomodulation, laxative, leukemia, lupus, metabolic disorders, nasopharyngitis, night vision enhancement, nutrition, ocular (eye) disorders, periodontitis/ gingivitis, hyperpigmentation (postpartum), psoriasis (chronic skin disease), pulmonary (lung) conditions, radiation injuries, radiation therapy side effects, scurvy, senility, skin eruptions, skin irritation, skin ulcers, stomachache, stress (due to cold conditions), stroke prevention, sunscreen, swollen mucous membranes, thrombosis (blood clots in the heart), tonic, toxicity, urinary tract infection, vision improvement, wound healing.


Adults (over 18 years old)

  • Various doses and forms have been studied, including teas, juices, seed oil capsules and flavones, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support the safety or efficacy of any particular dose. For atopic dermatitis, 5 grams (10 capsules) of sea buckthorn pulp oil has been used daily for four months. For liver disease (cirrhosis), 15 grams of sea buckthorn extract has been taken by mouth three times daily for six months. Creams containing 10-20% sea buckthorn have been applied on the skin for atopic dermatitis and burns.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for sea buckthorn in children.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • Avoid in people with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to sea buckthorn or its constituents.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • There is a lack of available information about side effects caused by sea buthorn. Sea buckthorn is likely safe when used in food amounts. Avoid doses higher than those found in food amount in pregnant or breastfeeding. Patients with cancer, hypertension or bleeding disorders should use sea buckthorn with caution.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Sea buckthorn is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Sea buckthorn may interact with antibiotics or blood pressure medications such as ACE inhibitors.
  • Sea buckthorn may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Sea buckthorn may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary. Use cautiously if taking cholesterol-altering medications.
  • Sea buckthorn oil may significantly reduce ulcer formation. Use cautiously with antiulcer medications, due to possible additive effects.
  • Sea buckthorn oil may significantly affect the action of some immunosuppressants and chemotherapies.
  • Although not well studied in humans, sea buckthorn may interact with agents that are broken down by the liver.
  • Sea buckthorn may have an inhibitory effect on angiotensin II formation. Caution is advised when taking drugs that block the angiotensin II receptor (A2R blockers).

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Sea buckthorn may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto.
  • Sea buckthorn may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Use cautiously in patients with cancer or taking herbs or supplements for cancer, as there may be additive effects and side effects.
  • Use cautiously with herbs and supplements with antibacterial, antioxidant, cardioactive, cholesterol-altering or immunomodulatory effects.
  • Sea buckthorn oil may significantly reduce ulcer formation and have additive effects with anti-ulcer therapies.
  • Sea buckthorn may interact with other herbs and supplements that are broken down by the liver.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. Boivin D, Blanchette M, Barrette S, et al. Inhibition of cancer cell proliferation and suppression of TNF-induced activation of NFkappaB by edible berry juice. Anticancer Res 2007;27(2):937-948.
  2. Goel HC, Gupta D, Gupta S, et al. Protection of mitochondrial system by Hippophae rhamnoides L. against radiation-induced oxidative damage in mice. J Pharm.Pharmacol. 2005;57(1):135-143.
  3. Hibasami H, Mitani A, Katsuzaki H, et al. Isolation of five types of flavonol from seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) and induction of apoptosis by some of the flavonols in human promyelotic leukemia HL-60 cells. Int J Mol.Med 2005;15(5):805-809.
  4. Kasparaviciene G, Briedis V, Ivanauskas L. [Influence of sea buckthorn oil production technology on its antioxidant activity]. Medicina (Kaunas.) 2004;40(8):753-757.
  5. Larmo P, Alin J, Salminen E, et al. Effects of sea buckthorn berries on infections and inflammation: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 2008;62(9):1123-1130.
  6. Li Y, Xu C, Zhang Q, et al. In vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori action of 30 Chinese herbal medicines used to treat ulcer diseases. J Ethnopharmacol 4-26-2005;98(3):329-333.
  7. Mdinaradze N. Comprehensive treatment of generalized parodontitis. Georgian.Med News 2006;(135):60-63.
  8. Padmavathi B, Upreti M, Singh V, et al. Chemoprevention by Hippophae rhamnoides: effects on tumorigenesis, phase II and antioxidant enzymes, and IRF-1 transcription factor. Nutr.Cancer 2005;51(1):59-67.
  9. Suomela JP, Ahotupa M, Yang B, et al. Absorption of flavonols derived from sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) and their effect on emerging risk factors for cardiovascular disease in humans. J Agric Food Chem 9-20-2006;54(19):7364-7369.
  10. Teng BS, Lu YH, Wang ZT, et al. In vitro anti-tumor activity of isorhamnetin isolated from Hippophae rhamnoides L. against BEL-7402 cells. Pharmacol Res 2006;54(3):186-194.
  11. Tiitinen KM, Hakala MA, Kallio HP. Quality components of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) varieties. J Agric.Food Chem. 3-9-2005;53(5):1692-1699.
  12. Vijayaraghavan R, Gautam A, Kumar O, et al. Protective effect of ethanolic and water extracts of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) against the toxic effects of mustard gas. Indian J Exp Biol 2006;44(10):821-831.
  13. Wang ZY, Luo XL, He CP. [Management of burn wounds with Hippophae rhamnoides oil]. Nan.Fang Yi.Ke.Da Xue.Xue.Bao. 2006;26(1):124-125.
  14. Zeb, A. Anticarcinogenic potential of lipids from Hippophae--evidence from the recent literature. Asian Pac.J Cancer Prev. 2006;7(1):32-35.
  15. Zhang P, Mao YC, Sun B, et al. [Changes in apoptosis-related genes expression profile in human breast carcinoma cell line Bcap-37 induced by flavonoids from seed residues of Hippophae Rhamnoides L]. Ai.Zheng. 2005;24(4):454-460.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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