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Sea buckthorn fruit flesh and seed oil support skin health primarily because they are anti-inflammatory and nourishing. In contrast, certain other herbs used for skin disorders support skin health by promoting detoxification, but they don't necessarily have a direct strengthening effect on skin cells. However, by fortifying and rejuvenating skin cells, sea buckthorn can provide long lasting benefits for a variety of skin disorders.
Anecdotal evidence and data from scientific studies corroborate the traditional medicinal use of sea buckthorn for alleviating inflammatory skin disorders such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and dermatitis.
To help you understand how sea buckthorn is beneficial for a suite of skin disorders, I've provided a brief definition of each skin condition to which I refer in this blog (see below).
Sea Buckthorn ~ The Stuff That Makes it Golden
Sea buckthorn fruit pulp and seed oil are ideal natural remedies for preventing and alleviating dermatological conditions because of their all-star nutrient composition. Their lipid profile is particularly important for skin health, and I'll detail this in tomorrow's blog. In addition to the anti-inflammatory and skin nourishing fats the fruit flesh and seed oil are replete with, sea buckthorn provides:
- vitamins A (in the form of carotenoids), B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B9 (folic acid), C, E (tocopherols and tocotrienols), K1 (phylloquinone)
- antioxidant phytonutrients including carotenoids (including alpha-, beta-, and delta-carotenes, lycopene), flavonoids, phenols (including proanthocyanidins), terpenes, and tannins
- phytosterols (especially beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, ergosterol, lansterol, and amyrins)
- boron, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, silica, zinc
- amino acids, including essential amino acids and organic acid Kreb cycle intermediates (malic acid and oxalic acid)
Are you impressed? It's certainly a remarkable nutritional profile for a single plant (and this doesn't even include the medicinal leaves, which I will discuss in part 4 of this blog series)!
Vitamin C ~ The Champion for Collagen
Sea buckthorn berries are one of the richest sources of vitamin C, supplying 360 to 2500 mg of this antioxidant vitamin per 100 grams of fresh fruit pulp. This exceeds the amount of vitamin C found in orange, strawberry, kiwi, tomato, carrot, and hawthorn berry!
How does vitamin C promote skin health? It serves as an antioxidant, helping to prevent cell and tissue damage caused by free radicals including those generated from exposure to ultraviolet rays. Free radical damage can weaken skin cells, negatively affect their rate of cell growth as well as their quality of DNA replication and protein synthesis, and accelerate aging. This can make skin more prone to developing metabolic or inflammatory disorders such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.
As an antioxidant, vitamin C also helps prevent hyperpigmentation, keloid scar formation, and abnormally dilated capillaries (medically termed telangiectasia), all of which could be sequelae of inflammatory skin disorders.
Vitamin C also facilitates the production of collagen, which is a hydrous protein matrix that gives skin resiliency, suppleness, elasticity, and strength. This essential water soluble vitamin not only activates the enzymes responsible for synthesizing the collagen matrix, it also helps to improve the quality of collagen produced.
Vitamins A & E ~ Keeping Fats Fit and Inflammation in Check!
Working hand-in-hand with vitamin C are the antioxidant fat soluble vitamins A and E complex. Vitamins A and E help protect lipids from free radical damage known as peroxidation. Maintaining integrity of lipids is essential for skin (and whole body) health because lipids are the major components of every cell membrane and they determine how inflammatory reactions are initiated, sustained, and terminated.
Damaged fats can instigate a chain-reaction of free radical damage to unharmed fats, and this could stoke a widespread local or regional inflammatory response. Inflammatory reactions in skin cells could promote or exacerbate dermatological disorders.
Sea buckthorn fruit and seed package these vitamins together with polyunsaturated fats that curb itinerant and unregulated inflammatory reactions. Vitamin C helps to maintain the functionality and integrity of vitamins A and E, so finding natural sources of all three vitamins is a fantastic win for skin!
Vitamin A also directly promotes regeneration of skin epithelial cells and supports collagen synthesis while vitamins E and K promote wound healing. These properties are particularly important for nourishing acneic and psoriatic skin, but all these vitamins also help alleviate eczema, dermatitis, and rosacea.
A Plethora of Phytonutrients & Phytosterols Per Portion
The sea buckthorn bush squeezes in an awesome array and dose of phytonutrients and phytosterols into each fruit and seed. Most phytonutrients act like powerful antioxidants, supporting vitamin C in its free radical scavenging duties. Many also directly help strengthen vasculature, thereby improving microcirculation to skin cells. This benefits skin conditions such as acne, roscaea, and dermatitis that can be exacerbated by poor blood and lymph circulation to the skin.
Moreover, keeping blood flow to tissues also promotes rapid wound healing and reduces the risk of scar formation. This is especially relevant for skin disorders such as psoriasis that impair repair mechanisms.
Phytosterols, which are sterol compounds found naturally in plants, similarly improve microcirculation to dermal and epidermal layers by helping to lower blood lipids, reduce risk of atherogenesis (plaque formation in the arteries), regulate angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels), and support overall cardiovascular health.
Phytosterols also regulate inflammatory processes, which is important for minimizing skin and tissue damage caused by injury/trauma, stress, infection, immune dysfunction, and/or metabolic imbalances due to malnutrition, endocrine disorders, and/or toxicity.
Sea Buckthorn ~ A Mineral Magna
Sea buckthorn fruit flesh provides a decent dose of minerals such as iron, which is essential for building the red blood cells that nourish skin; silica and zinc, which directly strengthen collagen; potassium and magnesium, which are crucial for skin cell metabolism; manganese, which increases endogenous antioxidant activity; and boron and calcium, which indirectly spare skin collagen from degradation by strengthening bone tissue (the reason for this is explained by tissue acid-base balance, a topic I will explore in future blogs).
Combined with these minerals are the amino acids and B vitamins present in sea buckthorn that altogether provide a pretty package of skin sustenance. Amino acids and B vitamins are both essential in cell metabolism and energy synthesis. When cells are unable to convert nutrients into usable energy, known as ATP (or adenoside triphosphate), they become weak, vulnerable to inflammatory disorders, and less able to heal properly.
Phew! This is a long list of sea buckthorn benefits! Read the entire blog series to learn more about sea buckthorn! In Part 1, I explained why this wonder of a plant is a popular remedy for disorders of mucous membranes. In Part 3, I describe how the unique fatty acid profile of sea buckthorn nurtures your health and in Part 4 I talk about the medicinal properties of the leaves.
What Are Skin Disorders? A Quick Review
To help you understand how sea buckthorn is beneficial for a suite of skin disorders, I've provided a brief definition of each skin condition I mentioned in this blog.
Acne: An infectious, inflammatory skin disease caused by localized (i.e., dermal) hormonal imbalance (generally a high relative ratio of androgens due to overproduction of testosterone and/or dihydrotestosterone) that leads to increased production of sebum, keratinization of hair follicles and sweat glands, and topical bacterial infection of skin pores.
Dermatitis: An acute or chronic inflammatory reaction of the skin that causes redness, pain and/or itch, swelling, and/or topical changes such as blistering, crust formation, flaking, etc. Dermatitis is a general term that can include various conditions such as contact dermatitis (i.e., urticaria), dandruff, and atopic dermatitis (i.e., eczema). It can be caused by external agents or internal imbalances.
Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis. A chronic inflammatory skin disorder presenting with red, swollen, lichenous, keratinized, and often itchy patches of skin. Eczema is often correlated with food or environmental allergies, hypersensitivities, asthma, and systemic inflammatory conditions. The condition can be exacerbated by stress, extreme environmental conditions, and/or exposure to irritants including allergens and synthetic chemicals.
Psoriasis: A chronic skin disorder characterized by rapid, uncontrolled growth of skin cells resulting in the formation of a thick white, grey, silvery, or red keratinized "plaque". Plaques grow quickly and as old skin cells within the psoriatic patch accumulate, they begin to die and flake off. The etiology of psoriasis is complex. The disorder is often correlated with chronic systemic inflammatory conditions, but a suite of environmental, genetic, endocrine, pathogenic, and immunologic factors can effect and affect it.
Rosacea: An inflammatory skin disorder that affects people over the age of 30 and that presents with redness, acne, bumps and/or abnormally dilated capillaries (i.e., telangiectasia) on the face. The redness can be splotchy and often the affected skin is hypersensitive, dry, coarse or thick in texture, and prone to acneic breakouts. The skin may burn or sting, especially during a flare up. Rosacea is correlated with systemic inflammatory conditions, especially inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions. Dietary, lifestyle, and environmental conditions can exacerbate symptoms associated with rosacea.
Bal, L. M., et al., 2011. Food Res. Int. 44:1718.
Hu, Y.-J., et al., 2011. J. Funct. Foods. 3:2.
Suryakumar, G., & A. Gupta. 2011. J. Ethnopharmacol. 138:268.
Telang, P. S. 2013. Indian Dermatol. Online J. 4:143.
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In Part 1 of this blog series about sea buckthorn I explain how this wonder of a plant is a popular remedy for disorders of mucous membranes. In Part 3 I discuss health promoting qualities of the unique fatty acid profile of the fruit and seed oils and in Part 4 I talk about the medicinal properties of the leaves.
Free Product Giveaway!
We've paired up with Canada's only sea buckthorn company, SBT Seabuckthorn, to give you a chance to win a bottle of Single Source Seabuckthorn oil (90 capsules) so you can try the amazing healing properties of sea buckthorn yourself! See below for details.