Seabuckthorn: Everything you need to know
Seabuckthorn is an ecologically and economically important plant of trans-Himalayan Ladakh. The plant is drought tolerant and can survive the temperature between minus 40 degree to plus 40 degree centigrade.
Seabuckthorn: The Plant
Seabuckthorn (Hippophae spp. L.) is a small thorny nitrogen fixing deciduous temperate shrub. It belongs to the family Elaeagnaceae and is botanically known as Hippophae. The plant is dioecious in nature, i.e., it bears male and female flowers on different plants. Flowering generally occurs in June and ripening sets in by mid-September.
Seabuckthorn in Historical Literature
The medicinal value of the plant was recorded as early as the 8 century in the Tibetan medicinal classic rGyud Bzi. There are more than a hundred popular Seabuckthorn-based formulations in various pharmacopoeias of Sowa Rigpa (Tibetan medicine). The three major species of Seabuckthorn has been established in Tibetan medicine as Sa-sTar for H. tibetana, Bar-sTar for H. rhamnoides and Nam-sTar for H. salicifolia.
Seabuckthorn is credited as one of the factors that contributed to the Mongolia the Genghis Khan’s conquest of a large part of the world during the 12 and 13 century.
As per the book, “Indian Medicinal Plants,” sea buckthorn concoctions have been used traditionally as an astringent, anti-diarrheal, stomachic, antitussive and anti-hemorrhagic. Concoctions treat stomach ulcers and, when applied topically, treat bedsores and skin problems caused by irradiation.
The book, “The Health Professional’s Guide to Dietary Supplements” explains that the ancient Greeks used to use the berry to promote skin health, energy and vitality, and for weight stabilization.
Distribution of Seabuckthorn
Approximately 90% of world’s Seabuckthorn is found in China, Mongolia, Russia, Northern Europe and Canada. China is the largest producer in the world. In India, Seabuckthorn grows naturally in five Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh). Ladakh region remains the major site for its natural resource with over 70% of the total area (13,000 ha) under Seabuckthorn in the country.
Nutritional & Health Benefits
Seabuckthorn berries are considered as among the most nutritious of all fruits. Fruit juice is rich in sugar, organic acids, amino acids, essential fatty acids, phytosterol, flavonoids, vitamins and mineral elements.
Besides vitamin C, the juice also contains vitamin A, vitamin E, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6 . Concentration of vitamins B2 , B3 , B5 , B6 , B12 , C and E is much higher than other fruits such as apricot, banana, mango, orange and peach. Presence of these vitamins in high quantity indicates its strong antioxidant property.
The Plant contains omega 3, omega 5, omega 6, omega 7 and omega 9. The berries also contain serotonin, beta carotene, uric acid, succinic acid, oleonol acid. For mineral substances, the fruit contains 11 micro elements such as zinc, calcium and iron.
It is helpful for treatment of common problems like indigestion, throat infection, gynecological problem, ulcer, gastritis, bronchitis, acidity, diarrhea, hypertension, blood disorder, fever, tumor, gallstone, cough, cold, food poisoning etc. Flavonoids of Seabuckthorn are considered to reduce cholesterol level and improve cardiac function.
Following products developed by Defence Institute of High Altitude Research, Leh:
In 2015, M/s Patanjali Ayurved Ltd. had taken Transfer of Technologies (ToT) through a “Non Exclusive” license from DRDO for five of the Seabuckthorn based products namely: Beverages, Seapricot Beverage, herbal Tea, Oil Soft Gel Capsules and Jam.