Congratulations Laura Horton, winner of the SBT Seabuckthorn Single Source Oil Giveaway!
Sea buckthorn berries and seeds are extremely healing and nourishing to your whole body, and especially your skin and digestive system (read parts 1, 2, and 3 of this blog series on these amazing fruits!). Incredibly, this plant provides added anti-inflammatory support in its leaves, as well!
While the leaves of sea buckthorn were used medicinally by traditional herbalists and healers of ancient East Asia (a practice that continues today), Europeans, especially in ancient Greece, used the leaves as fodder for racehorses because it gave the horses' coats a shiny, healthy strength. This gave rise to the generic name of the plant, Hippophaë spp., which literally translates to "shiny horse".
This also indicated the connective tissue strengthening properties of the leaves that could be attributable, in part, to their high mineral and phytonutrient content and in part to their anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. It's no wonder the entire sea buckthorn plant has been popularly used for promoting vigor and youthful beauty!
Sea Buckthorn Leaves Modulate Immune Response
An in vivo study on rats showed that those treated with sea buckthorn leaves* didn't develop arthritis that was artificially induced in the lab (by local injection of the pathogenic bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, into paws and ankles) whereas untreated rats suffered typical symptoms associated with this inflammatory joint disorder. Rats given sea buckthorn leaves experienced minimal or no joint swelling, deformity, immobility, or tissue damage compared to rats that received no treatment with sea buckthorn leaves.
Particularly remarkable was that treatment with sea buckthorn leaves was as effective as treatment with dexamethasone, a steroidal anti-inflammatory drug often used as an anti-inflammatory agent.
The researchers noted that sea buckthorn leaves benefited the treated rats by modulating the immune system response to the induced injury (that is, treatment with sea buckthorn leaves prevented a disproportionate or chronic inflammatory response in the joints and therefore treated rats didn't develop arthritis). This general immunomodulation provided local and system benefits by reducing inflammation everywhere in the body, not just in the injured joint.
The rats treated with sea buckthorn leaves showed no adverse side effects from the treatment, and the injured joints showed rapid recovery from the lab-induced tissue trauma. Antioxidants present in the leaves could have contributed significantly to the rapid wound healing. Even though this study was not blinded, results from this study corroborate previous similar experiments.
Sea Buckthorn Leaf ~ Wound Healer Extraordinaire!
As a support for wound healing, sea buckthorn leaf tea boasts an impressive repertoire of cell supporting properties! In an experiment examining the effects of a water-based extract of sea buckthorn leaf on tissue healing of severe burns, rats treated with the herbal concentrate showed a statistically significant improvement in rate and quality of tissue repair healing compared to rats that received no sea buckthorn treatment (that is, those in the control group).
Compared to the untreated animals, rats given sea buckthorn leaf showed:
- faster wound healing
- improved cell repair and tissue restructuring
- increased vascularization of the burned area during and after healing
- higher concentration of endogenously synthesized antioxidant compounds
- less tissue damage caused by free radicals created by the burn, inflammatory response, and healing process
- regulated inflammatory response that appropriately initiated wound repair without sustaining chronic inflammation
- amplified activity of enzymes involved in tissue repair and rejuvenation
- enhanced production of proteins and tissue matrix (such as collagen) required for recovery from the burn injury.
The researchers noted that because sea buckthorn leaf supported the most crucial process necessary for tissue healing, formation of scar tissue was minimized and no rats suffered chronic wounds that failed to heal. The new tissue constructed over and around the burn site on rats given sea buckthorn leaf was stronger and healthier than the new tissue that formed on untreated rats.
Based on previous studies that suggest sea buckthorn leaf has anti-microbial properties, the researchers hypothesized that this could have also contributed to the improved wound healing in treated animals.
Sea Buckthorn Leaf ~ More Than A Simple Herbal Tea
As an antioxidant and immunomodulator, sea buckthorn leaf protects healthy and wounded cells from further damage caused by an excessive inflammatory response (which could result from injured cells that suffer chronic stress or from imbalanced immune system function). One in vitro study suggested that sea buckthorn is as effective as supplemental vitamin C in providing antioxidant and immunomodulatory support for preventing heavy metal induced tissue injury, while another study on rats suggests the leaf extract supports the whole body during periods of stress. That is, it acts as an adaptogen.
These data suggest that sea buckthorn leaf is beneficial for promoting wound healing and as a preventative to ensure that tissue will recover quickly and healthfully from future sustained trauma.
Even though few clinical trials have been conducted to test the effectiveness of sea buckthorn leaf in humans, the evidence amassed from thousands of years of use by traditional healers provides substantial testimony of its benefits.
Notes & Definitions:
*Animals were treated for 28 days with an intraperitoneal injection of 200 mg/kg body weight of aqueous solution of sea buckthorn leaves.
Adaptogen: An agent, classically a medicinal herb, that supports the body (especially the adrenal glands and other endocrine organs, as well as the central nervous system) during periods of stress. Adaptogens improve whole body resiliency and recovery during and between periods of physical and psychological stress.
Blind study design: A type of experimental design that obscures treatment protocol of subjects. In a blind study, researchers are not aware of which subjects receive which treatments (or no treatment). This theoretically decreases the potential of researcher bias affecting study outcome.
Control group: A group of subjects in an experiment who receive no treatment but who experience the same conditions as the subjects in the treatment group. They are used for comparison to elucidate how the treatment has or doesn't have an effect on the experimental factor being studied.
Ganju, L., et al., 2005. Int. Immunopharmacol. 5:1675.
Geetha, S. et al., 2005. Mol. Cell. Biochem. 278:101.
Suryakumar, G., & A. Gupta. 2011. J. Ethnopharmacol. 138:268.
Upadhyay, N.K. et al., 2001. Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. ID659705:9.
Read the entire blog series!
In Part 1 of this blog series on sea buckthorn, I explained why this wonder of a plant is a popular remedy for disorders of mucous membranes and in Part 2, I explained why sea buckthorn is also effective in alleviating inflammatory skin disorders. In Part 3 I discussed the health promoting qualities of the unique fatty acid profile of the fruit and seed oils.
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.