Sea buckthorn oil has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy for various ailments.
It is extracted from the berries, leaves, and seeds of the sea buckthorn plant (Hippophae rhamnoides), which is a small shrub that grows at high altitudes in the northwest Himalayan region. You can apply it to your skin or take it orally (
Sometimes referred to as the holy fruit of the Himalayas, it’s a popular remedy in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines. It’s said to provide health benefits ranging from more radiant hair and skin to a lower risk of cancer and heart disease.
Here are 11 science-backed benefits of sea buckthorn oil.
Sea buckthorn is rich in various vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. It’s naturally full of antioxidants, which help protect your body against aging and illnesses like cancer and heart disease (
Its berries are especially rich in vitamins A, C, K, and E. They also contain considerable amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and zinc (
In addition, its seeds and leaves are rich in phytosterols, a plant compound with many benefits — including blocking cholesterol from your diet from being absorbed in your body. This is one way in which sea buckthorn oil is though to reduce your risk of heart disease (
This oil can be sourced from the sea buckthorn seeds or berries and is considered the most valuable component of the plant (
It contains a high proportion of palmitoleic acid, which is also found in the fat of human skin. As such, this oil is thought to speed wound healing and keep your skin healthy (
Interestingly, sea buckthorn oil may also be one of the only plant foods known to provide all four omega fatty acids. What’s more, more than half of the fat found in this oil is mono- and polyunsaturated fat, which are two types of healthy fats (
Sea buckthorn oil is rich in various vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and other plant compounds that may support your health.
Sea buckthorn oil has been used as a traditional skin treatment for centuries.
It’s rich in unsaturated fat, antioxidants, phytosterols, carotenoids, and vitamins E and K — all of which function together to protect your skin’s integrity and promote its renewal (
Sea buckthorn oil is also rich in palmitoleic acid, which is a type of fat naturally found in human skin that can be used to treat burns and promote wound healing (
It’s also a good source of linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid that’s the most abundant fatty acid in human skin. Research suggests that LA may reduce acne and psoriasis, as well as protect against dry or scaly skin (
In addition to LA, sea buckthorn oil contains other omega-6 fats, such as gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which may help reduce eczema and improve acne (
Furthermore, compounds in sea buckthorn oil appear promising in protecting your skin from the damaging effects of UV rays from the sun (
Perhaps unsurprisingly, sea buckthorn is commonly added to various pro-aging or wrinkle-reducing products. It’s also a common ingredient in products intended to treat dry, irritated, flaky or itchy skin (
That said, few of these purported benefits have been researched in humans. One of the only available studies reported lower psoriasis symptoms after application of a sea buckthorn extract for 4–8 weeks (
Therefore, more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Sea buckthorn oil may help your skin heal from wounds and burns more quickly. It may also improve acne, eczema, and psoriasis, although more research is needed.
Sea buckthorn oil may benefit heart health in several ways.
For starters, it’s rich in phytosterols, which are plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions that help protect your body from damage and disease, including heart disease (
These compounds also help block the absorption of cholesterol from your diet, which can help prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol from creating blockages in your blood vessels and arteries (
Additionally, sea buckthorn oil is a good source of quercetin, an antioxidant that’s directly linked to a lower risk of heart disease (
Although one older study further suggests that sea buckthorn oil may help reduce heart disease risk by preventing the formation of blood clots, more recent studies are needed (
In a 30-day study, taking 0.15 teaspoons (0.75 mL) of sea buckthorn oil daily helped reduce blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure. Triglycerides and total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels also dropped in those who had high cholesterol (
However, the effects on people with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels were less pronounced (
One review also determined that sea buckthorn extracts may reduce cholesterol levels in people with poor heart health — but not in healthy participants (9).
Sea buckthorn oil may aid your heart by reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and protecting against blood clots. That said, its effects may be strongest in people with poor heart health.
Sea buckthorn oil may help prevent diabetes and support healthy blood sugar.
Animal studies show that it may help reduce blood sugar levels by increasing insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity (
Overall, the better your body is able to secrete insulin, and the more sensitive your cells are to it, the lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Still, few human studies have examined the blood sugar-lowering effect of sea buckthorn oil directly.
In one of the few recent studies, 38 people with impaired blood sugar regulation — a risk factor for type 2 diabetes — drank 3 ounces (90 mL) of sea buckthorn fruit purée or a placebo for 5 weeks.
Their fasting blood sugar levels were significantly lower after taking the sea buckthorn fruit purée than the placebo. However, the drop in fasting blood sugar levels after 5 weeks was only 0.14 mmol/L, which is considered quite small (
Furthermore, this study was quite small. Overall, more comprehensive research is needed.
Sea buckthorn may help improve insulin secretion, insulin sensitivity, and blood sugar levels, all of which may protect against type 2 diabetes — though more research is needed.
Sea buckthorn oil may help protect your body against infections.
Experts attribute this effect, in large part, to the high flavonoid content of the oil. Flavonoids are beneficial plant compounds that may strengthen your immune system by increasing resistance to illnesses (4).
In one test-tube study, sea buckthorn oil safeguarded against influenza, herpes, and HIV viruses (4).
Sea buckthorn oil also contains a good amount of antioxidants, which may also likewise defend your body against microbes (
That said, research in humans is lacking.
Sea buckthorn oil is rich in beneficial plant compounds like flavonoids and antioxidants, which may help your body fight infections. However, more research is needed.
Sea buckthorn oil may contribute to a healthy liver.
That’s because it contains healthy fats, vitamin E, and carotenoids, all of which may safeguard liver cells from damage (
In one older study, sea buckthorn oil significantly improved markers of liver function in rats with liver damage (
In another older, 6-month study, people with cirrhosis — an advanced form of liver disease — who took 15 grams of sea buckthorn extract 3 times per day increased their blood markers of liver function significantly more than those given a placebo (
Although these effects seem promising, more recent human studies in humans are needed.
Compounds in sea buckthorn may aid liver function, though more research is necessary.
Compounds like flavonoids and antioxidants in sea buckthorn oil may have anticancer effects.
For instance, sea buckthorn is rich in quercetin, a flavonoid which appears to help kill cancer cells (
Sea buckthorn’s various other antioxidants, including carotenoids and vitamin E, may also offer protection (
A few test-tube and animal studies suggest that sea buckthorn extracts may help prevent the spread of cancer cells (
Research in animals further suggests that sea buckthorn may safeguard healthy cells from the effects of radiotherapy, which is a common cancer treatment (
Keep in mind that these effects haven’t been tested in humans, so more studies are needed.
Sea buckthorn oil provides certain plant compounds that may protect against cancer. However, human research is lacking.
Although sea buckthorn oil is purported to give additional health benefits, not all claims are backed by science. Those with the most evidence include:
- May improve digestion. Animal studies indicate that sea buckthorn oil may help prevent and treat stomach ulcers (18).
- May relieve symptoms of menopause. Sea buckthorn may reduce vaginal drying and act as an effective alternative treatment for postmenopausal women who cannot take estrogen (
- May treat dry eyes. One study linked daily sea buckthorn intake to reduced eye redness and burning (
- May improve the appearance of hair. Sea buckthorn contains small amounts of lecithin, a type of fat that may remove excess oil from your hair. It may also help repair damaged hair and restore its elasticity (
It’s important to note that most of these studies are small and very few involve humans. Therefore, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Sea buckthorn may offer an array of additional health benefits, ranging from reduced inflammation to menopause treatment. However, more studies — especially in humans — are needed.
Sea buckthorn oil has been used for centuries and is generally considered safe.
Side effects appear to be rare. That said, in one older study, a few participants reported an increase in digestive symptoms and joint pain after taking sea buckthorn oil for 3 months (
Studies in animals suggest report no evidence of toxicity following short-term use, which further supports the notion of sea buckthorn’s safety.
That said, safety studies in humans don’t yet exist, so it’s difficult to formulate strong conclusions about safe dosages or durations of use.
Plus, there’s currently no research on sea buckthorn’s safety in pregnant or nursing individuals, in children, or when taken with medications or other supplements.
If you experience any unexplained symptoms after ingesting sea buckthorn oil or applying it to your skin, stop using it. Make sure to speak to your doctor if your symptoms persist.
Sea buckthorn oil is generally considered safe. Still, long-term safety and dosage studies are limited. Some people may experience digestive symptoms or joint pain when using it.
Sea buckthorn oil is a popular alternative remedy for a variety of ailments.
It is rich in many nutrients and may improve the health of your skin, immune system, liver, and heart. It may also help protect against diabetes and even certain types of cancer.
Sea buckthorn oil has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years and appears to have very few side effects. All the same, it may be best to consult your doctor before adding it to your routine.
Just one thing
Try this today: Sea buckthorn oil is a popular natural hair and skin remedy and often added to over-the-counter cosmetic products such as shampoos and face creams. These are a simple and easy way to give it a try.
If you seek more versatility, purchase the oil separately so you can add it to your diet, in addition to using it on your hair and skin.