Presented by: UT El Paso / Austin Cooperative Pharmacy Program & Paso del Norte Health Foundation

Sea Buckthorn

Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.
Sea Buckthorn

Botanical Family:


Other Common Name:

Sha Ji, cu liu guo, sallow thorn, sand thorn, star-bu, ameel. amesh, Tsarap, tapu, taru, chumaa.

Where is it found?

This thorny shrub is native to China, India, and Himalaya.

Parts of the plant used:

Seed, bark, leaves, fruit, and oil.

How is it used?

The fruits are very sour but edible and syrup can be obtained from them for therapeutic purposes. The bark or the fruit paste is applied topically. A bark decoction is taken as tea Quattrocchi, 2012).

What is it used for?

The fruit is very acidic and is valued for its astringent and anti-hemorrhagic (against bleeding) properties. Syrup made from the fruit is taken internally for lung problems, tuberculosis, against coughs and colds. A decoction for the fruit is taken to treat skin eruptions. The fruit paste is applied to wounds to stop bleeding. A concentrated juice decoction is applied on the neck to treat influenza and coughs. A paste made from the bark or fruit is applied to the pelvis or joints against pain. The paste made from the bark is applied topically to treat ulcers and wounds. A bark decoction is ingested to “purify the blood”. The oil extracted from the plant is used topically for skin diseases, eczema, burns and wounds. The fruit juice has shown anticancer effects in laboratory experiments using cells and animals (Li et al., 2015; Quattrocchi, 2012; Tang and Eisenbrand, 2011). The fruit has an appreciable content of vitamin C, more so than various citrus fruits (Mabberley, 2008). One of the plant’s main constituents, known as Isorhamnetin, has powerful antioxidant effects (free radical scavenger) that may also have anticancer effects (Li et al., 2015).

Zhamanbaeva et al (2015) studied the effects of ethanol (alcohol) extract obtained from the leaves of sea buckthorn on the growth and differentiation of human acute myeloid leukemia cells. The results of the study showed that the leaf extract inhibited cancer cell proliferation.

Sea buckthorn berries have been shown to have powerful protective effects on the liver of chickens exposed to the potent natural carcinogens (aflatoxins) produced by certain species of microscopic fungi (Solcan et al., 2013).

Sea buckthorn improves the body’s resistance to infection, as well as treats skin eruptions and irritation. Additionally, the plant’s active antioxidant ingredients are useful for the treatment of heart disease. The oil from the fruit has both cosmetic as well as medicinal uses, since it can relieve cardiac problems such as angina, and also lower blood cholesterol levels (Tang and Eisenbrand, 2011; Li, 2009).

Khare (2009) mentions that In India, the fruit is used to treat diarrhea, to improve digestion, against coughs and to treat hemorrhages. Preparations made from the plant are used to treat gastrointestinal ulcers. Externally poultices made from the plant are used to treat burns, bedsores, and skin complications caused by exposure to X-rays. The fruits (berries) are nutritious since they are a source of various vitamins and other natural compounds, which help people, adapt to cold, long winter conditions. The plant possesses antioxidant activities and the leaves contain flavonoids.

Some of Sea buckthorn’s active ingredients, such as flavones, have been considered as potential ingredients for functional foods due to their beneficial health effects, including treating cardiovascular disease, lowering plasma cholesterol levels, and regulating the immune system’s functions (Wang et al., 2016).

Safety / Precautions

  • There are no known health effects associated with the consumption of this plant.
  • Sea buckthorn’s safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been established.

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with a health care professional first. Avoid self-medication and self-diagnosis: Always be on the safe side!


Khare CP. Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary.
New Delhi, India: Springer-Verlag; 2007; pp. 311-312.

Li Q, Ren FQ, Yang CL, Zhou LM, Liu YY, Xiao J, Zhu L, Wang ZG.
Anti-proliferation effects of isorhamnetin on lung cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015; 16(7):3035-42.

Li T. Chinese and related North American Herbs 2nd ed.
Boca Raton, FL; CRC Press; 2009; p. 205.

Mabberley D. Mabberley’s Plant Book 3rd ed.
London: Cambridge University Press; 2008; p. 308.

Quattrocchi, U. World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants, Vol 3.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012; p. 485.

Solcan C, Gogu M, Floristean V, Oprisan B, Solcan G. The hepatoprotective effect of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) berries on induced aflatoxin B1 poisoning in chickens.
Poult Sci. 2013; 92(4):966-74. doi: 10.3382/ps.2012-02572.

Tang W, Eisenbrand G. Handbook of Chinese Medicinal Plants Vol. 1.
New York: Wiley; 2011; pp. 624-628.

Wang Y, Huang F, Zhao L, Zhang D, Wang O, Guo X, Lu F, Yang X, Ji B, Deng Q. Protective Effect of Total Flavones from Hippophae rhamnoides L. against Visible Light-Induced Retinal Degeneration in Pigmented Rabbits. J Agric Food Chem. 2016; 64(1):161-70. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b04874.

Zhamanbaeva GT, Murzakhmetova MK, Tuleukhanov ST, Danilenko MP. Antitumor activity of ethanol extract from Hippophae rhamnoides L. leaves towards human acute myeloid leukemia cells in vitro. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2014 ;158(2):252-5. doi: 10.1007/s10517-014-2734-3.