What Is Sea Buckthorn?

Can Sea Buckthorn Skin Creams Make a Difference?

Sea buckthorn capsules, gelcap, oil, and dried fruit

Verywell / Anastasiia Tretiak​

Sea buckthorn (Hipphophae rhamnoides) is a medicinal plant long used in herbal medicine. Sea buckthorn fruit is sometimes used in sweet treats including jams, pies, and drinks.

Available in supplement form, sea buckthorn extract contains a variety of essential fatty acids and antioxidants (including vitamin C, vitamin E, and anthocyanins). Proponents claim that sea buckthorn offers a wide range of health benefits.

What Is Sea Buckthorn Used For?

In herbal medicine, sea buckthorn has long been used to stimulate the digestive system, enhance heart and liver health, and treat skin disorders. Today, sea buckthorn is touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

In recent years, sea buckthorn oil has gained popularity as an ingredient in skin-care products. When applied topically, sea buckthorn oil is thought to moisturize the skin, ease irritation, treat acne and heal aging-related damage.

There is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the effects of sea buckthorn. However, preliminary research suggests that sea buckthorn may offer a number of health benefits.


Sea buckthorn supplements may help treat atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema), according to a 1999 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. In tests on 49 people with atopic dermatitis, researchers observed significant improvement among those who took supplements containing sea buckthorn pulp oil every day for four months. However, more recent research suggests that supplements like sea buckthorn provide no benefit.

Wound Healing

Findings from animal-based research suggest that sea buckthorn may promote wound healing when applied topically. In a 2009 study in Food and Chemical Toxicology, scientists discovered that topically applied sea buckthorn seed oil helped speed up the healing of burn wounds in rats.


In a small 2010 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that sea buckthorn may help keep blood sugar in check and protect against type 2 diabetes. In an experiment involving 10 healthy, normal-weight volunteers, the study's authors discovered that adding sea buckthorn berries to meals helped prevent a post-meal spike in blood sugar.

Possible Side Effects

Sea buckthorn fruit is likely safe when consumed in amounts typically found in food. The fruit is also likely safe when taken by mouth for medicinal purposes.

But little is known about the safety of consuming sea buckthorn extract. Therefore, it's important to consult your physician if you're considering the use of sea buckthorn supplements. Patients with low blood pressure, bleeding disorders, or those about to undergo surgery should be especially careful to get medical advice before using sea buckthorn.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. 

Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements.

Sea buckthorn soft gels
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak​

Dosage and Preparation

There is not enough scientific evidence about sea buckthorn to determine a safe or effective dose. The right dose for you will depend on a variety of factors including your age, gender, and medical health.

What to Look For

Available online, sea buckthorn supplements are sold in some natural-food stores. In addition, skin-care products containing sea buckthorn can be found in many specialty beauty shops.

Sea buckthorn may be sold as an oil, in capsule form, or as a capsule combined with other herbal remedies. The National Institutes of Health advises all supplement users to examine Supplement Facts label on any product that you consider using. This label will contain vital information including the amount of active ingredients per serving, and if other ingredients have been added.

In addition, it is helpful to look for a third-party seal of approval by an independent organization. Groups like the U.S. Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, and NSF International help provide verification that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants a seal of approval from one of these organizations does not guarantee the product's safety or effectiveness.

Given the lack of supporting research, it's too soon to recommend sea buckthorn for any health condition. It's important to note that self-treating a condition with sea buckthorn and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious health consequences.

Common Questions

Can I grow my own sea buckthorn?

Yes, sea buckthorn plants are commonly sold online and in plant stores. The tree can grow in full sun in most areas of the country.

How do I cook with sea buckthorn?

You can eat these berries right off the tree or cook with them like you would bake or cook with other berries. The berries can also be squeezed and the juice can be added to beverages.

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Zielińska A, Nowak I. Abundance of active ingredients in sea-buckthorn oilLipids Health Dis. 2017;16(1):95. doi:10.1186/s12944-017-0469-7

  2. Yang B, Kalimo KO, Mattila LM, Kallio SE, Katajisto JK, Peltola OJ, Kallio HP. Effects of Dietary Supplementation With Sea Buckthorn (Hippophaë  Rhamnoides) Seed and Pulp Oils on Atopic Dermatitis. J Nutr Biochem. 1999 Nov;10(11):622-30. doi:10.1016/s0955-2863(99)00049-2

  3. Bath-hextall FJ, Jenkinson C, Humphreys R, Williams HC. Dietary supplements for established atopic eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(2):CD005205. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005205.pub3

  4. Upadhyay NK, Kumar R, Mandotra SK, Meena RN, Siddiqui MS, Sawhney RC, Gupta A. Safety and Healing Efficacy of Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides L.) Seed Oil on Burn Wounds in Rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Jun;47(6):1146-53. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2009.02.002

  5. Lehtonen HM, Järvinen R, Linderborg K, Viitanen M, Venojärvi M, Alanko H, Kallio H. "Postprandial Hyperglycemiaand Insulin Response Are Affected by Sea Buckthorn (Hippophaë Rhamnoides Ssp. Turkestanica) Berry and Its Ethanol-Soluble Metabolites." Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Dec;64(12):1465-71. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.173

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