Update 8/7/20. Does Sea Buckthorn help weight loss? Could it be? At one time, this stuff rocketed to weight loss stardom after being featured on the Dr. Oz Show. I remember it like it was yesterday, with Dr. Oz showing the picture of the fat and skinny mice, telling us how sea buckthorn helped the skinny mouse stay skinny. But, that's a mouse. What about people? It's been some time since I reviewed this stuff and I thought it was worth a fresh look. So, can sea buckthorn help people lose weight – or do anything else? Let's look at the evidence and see if its right for you.
1 What Is Sea Buckthorn?
It's a plant that grows in various regions from China and Pakistan to Canada. Its scientific name is Hippophae rhamnoides. The fruit of the plant is rich in different vitamins and minerals and plant nutrients such as vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, amino acids, flavonoids, and vitamin A.
2 Sea Buckthorn Benefits
The berries of the plant are said to provide the following benefits
- Help people lose weight
- Prevent colds
- Help ulcers
- Help heart disease
- Help diabetes
- Help rejuvenate aging skin
- Help ease stress
- Help ulcers
- Help hair growth
Much of these benefits may be attributed to its fatty acids, especially omega, 3, 6, and omega 7 fatty acids. This sea vegetable has more omega 7 fatty acids than any other plant.
3 Types of Buckthorn
There are 4 main types of sea buckthorn. The types are:
- Sea Buckthorn (also called Hippophae rhamnoides). Some people write it as “C. Buckthorn”
- Alder Buckthorn (also called Frangula alnus or Rhamnus frangula)
- Buckthorn (also called Cascara or Frangula purshiana or Rhamnus purshiana)
- European Buckthorn (also called Rhamnus cathartica)
Alder Buckthorn, Cascara, and European Buckthorn are typically used as laxatives. Sea buckthorn is rich in vitamin C, omega 3,7 and 7 fatty acids and phytonutrients. As such, it is also an antioxidant food. This is why it may be found in some cosmetics.
4 Sea Buckthorn And Weight Loss
So, what's the proof this stuff helps people lose weight? When it was featured on the Dr. Oz show (back in 2011), viewers were shown 2 mice – fat and skinny – and the differences were dramatic. In spite of eating the same food as the overweight mice, the mouse which also ate sea buckthorn was MUCH thinner.
In this video, Dr. Oz shows the difference in how much the mice weighed and other benefits
Weight Loss Research
The mouse study they were referring to may have been this one.
Basically, mice were fed a high-fat diet for 4 weeks. Then the mice were given a combination of sea buckthorn and a statin drug while eating the same diet. Twelve weeks later, the mice getting sea buckthorn weighed less than the mice which did not get it. As an added bonus, the fruit also lowers cholesterol levels AND helped their insulin worked better too.
Researchers in Finland tested this supplement in 110 overweight women for 3 months. The women were given diets that contained either Bilberries, Sea Buckthorn berries, Buckthorn extract, or the oil from the fruit. Researchers noted women getting the fruit had a significant reduction in waist circumference (about a half-inch difference). A small amount of weight was lost too (less than 1 pound).
This appears the only research on weight loss.
Now, let's look at some of the other reasons why someone might be interested in this supplement.
5 Sea Buckthorn and Colds/Flu
The berries of sea buckthorn contain vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and other plant nutrients which might help reduce the severity of colds and flu. Researchers in Finland tested this idea with an experiment involving 233 people who received either sea buckthorn on a placebo. There was no difference in the rates of colds of urinary tract infections in those taking sea buckthorn. To be fair, there are not many cold/flu studies out there. So, it's hard to know for sure if it works or not.
6 Sea Buckthorn And Ulcers
Most of the research on ulcers involves mice, rats, and horses. As such, it's anyone's guess if this food helps ulcers or not.
7 Sea Buckthorn And Heart Disease
Evidence suggests the berries of the plant can reduce cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. In another study, the berries were shown to reduce CRP levels. CRP is marker of cell inflammation and thought to be invited in heart disease.
When researchers gave 12 men either 5 grams of sea buckthorn berry oil to coconut oil for 4 weeks, they observed the berry oil reduced blood clotting. In other words, the berry oil had a blood-thinning effect.
By lowering cholesterol and LDL levels, and helping blood flow, in theory, sea buckthorn might have heart health benefits. But, due to the small number of studies, it's difficult to know for sure.
Heart disease Research Summary
Research has noted sea buckthorn appears to:
- lower cholesterol and bad cholesterol
- lower CRP levels
- have a blood-thinning effects
All of these effects may translate into a lower heart attack risk. But it will take better studies to know for sure. Research finds people who eat more fruits and vegetables, have fewer heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems.
8 Sea Buckthorn And Diabetes
Researchers in Romania noted the berries decreased glycosolated hemoglobin in 30 kids with type I diabetes after 2 months of use. This may mean the berries reduce A1C levels. Levels of SOD – a powerful antioxidant enzyme – were also improved. The study only lasted 2 months. Generally, I'd like to see at least 3 or 4 months before checking for A1C reductions. A mouse study has also noted better insulin but human studies have not yet demonstrated this effect.
9 Sea Buckthorn And Skin
This supplement finds its way into some cosmetics. While the berries are rich in vitamin C, there may be other reasons too. A mouse study noted the fruit increased levels of a powerful antioxidant called SOD (superoxide dismutase) and prevented aging skin in mice exposed to UV radiation.
Researchers in San Diego noted that a 90-day treatment of a sea buckthorn supplement used alongside a drug called TAZ, improved wrinkles. This was a small study of only 10 women.
The supplement used this investigation was called GliSODin Skin Nutrients Advanced Anti-Aging Formula.B
10 Sea Buckthorn And Stress
No research appears to have investigated if sea buckthorn berries help reduce mental stress. It might or might not. It's anyone's guess at this point.
11 Berries vs. Juice
The fruit can be eaten or squeezed together to make a juice. While clinical trials comparing juice to berries cannot be located, I think in some ways they may be similar. If I had to pick one however, I'd choose to eat the berries because that is more of a whole food. There are likely compounds excluded when just drinking the juice.
12 Sea Buckthorn And Hair
While there seem to be no clinical trials on how it affects hair, there is buckthorn shampoo. Whether it's better than other shampoos needs more study. For more on hair see the Viviscal Review
13 Can You Drink Sea Buckthorn Oil?
Use the oil on the skin only. Do not drink it. No buckthorn oil I looked at for this review said to take it internally. To the contrary, they ALL said it was for external use only.
14 How Much Works?
This is difficult to say due to the lack of human studies. Some research has used about an ounce of berries per day. When it comes to using sea buckthorn oil on the skin, follow the directions on the product label.
15 Sea Buckthorn Side Effects
In healthy people, sea buckthorn is safe. Here are a few things to consider when using this supplement. This list is not complete:
- Start with less than recommended for the first week
- Stop taking at least 2 weeks before having surgery
- Speak to your doctor first if you are pregnant/breastfeeding
- The supplement may have a blood thinner effect so speak to your doctor if you take any blood thinner medications
- The oil may cause acne or a rash in some people. Start with less than recommended for the first week to see how you respond.
- There is one report of sea buckthorn turning a man's skin yellow. This occurred after 3 months of use.
16 Does Sea Buckthorn Work?
The research on sea buckthorn is interesting but I think we need more human research to know if it helps various conditions or not. Because its a food, I do think the berries have their place in a healthy diet.
Marie Hooke says
A MENOPAUSE CONNECTION: I have been involved in alternative medicine for years and have been out of the loop for about 5. With that said I was doing some research for myself regarding menopause issues and what natural treatments may be available for atrophy of the vaginal wall/pelvic floor. I came across some research that indicated the Omega 7 SBT (seed AND fruit) may be beneficial for that as well as vaginal dryness (taken internally for both).
If it helps me loose a few pounds – all the better. Since it is known clinically to be beneficial for skin tissue repair it may make sense that it could possibly help thinning/inflamed vaginal tissue as well. Fingers crossed on this one (for more than one reason).
Marie, the research you saw on sea buckthorn and menopause, was that a published peer reviewed study? If yes, do you have a link to the study? Id like to read it myself. Thanks 🙂
Marie Hooke says
Joe, Here’s one link to some info on vaginal atrophy/dryness linked to sbt. There’s more and when I come across it again I’ll send it on.
Marie, thanks I looked at it. Ive never heard of that journal before but they say they’ve been around for over 30 years. They didnt say if the journal was peer reviewed or not so I cant be sure. I’ll assume it is. The study itself only had 5 people so thats not much. still its a start, worthy of other research. If it helped anybody, do let me know. Im curious.
The file is a PDF. For everybody else reading this who is squeamish about opening files on the web, I scanned it for viruses before opening it.
Marie Hooke says
I know what your saying about the size of the study, but I have been involved in extensive studies for EFA for skin disorders, specifically psoriasis (I actually have a patent on a treatment for it), At any rate, since it is well known that EFA have a significant positive affect on inflammatory skin tissues it seems to make sense to me that Omega 7 would as well and since vaginal inflammation can be significant in menopausal woman along with dryness make be worth investigating, I’m giving it a try…we’ll see.
Marie, what you say does make some sense so I do hope it helps you. Keep me posted 🙂
I had heard of sea buckthorn on The People’s Pharmacy on NPR. I was mainly interested in it because the doctor recommending said that it has a hydration effect. As I age, I tend to feel dehydrated more often than not. He did not mention weightless or any other benefit.
Cindy, thanks for that. Its been thought of as weight loss product ever since I heard Dr Oz mention it. Maybe that notion is being changed? I’d just drink more fluids if you are looking to be better hydrated.
Debbie Anne says
Hi Joe. My name is Debbie Anne and I am only 24yrs old with weight problems. As I am more to a meat eater so obviously losing weight is difficult for me. I have decided to try Sea Buckthorn supplement. I started taking it on the 15th of June 2013. Its barely 2 weeks and yet I see slight improvements in my weight.
However, after watching Dr.Oz show. He claimed taking Sea Buckthorn will help you poop regular I guess. That I don’t think is true because I was only taking Sea Buckthorn for 3-4 days and I just could not go to toilet easily. I had to take D’lite Tea to flush everything out. Basically, I am constipated! It does not stop you from eating or rather stop hunger.
Today is 20th June 2013, as I am writing my feedback the sea buckthorn supplement has made my tummy feel tighter but not slim yet. According to Cosway Trainers they said that after 2 weeks I will see results. I’ll get back to you after 2 weeks.
For now I am not sure if this product will help people who are already Fat. Anyway, I am FAT rat myself so we shall see if it helps and I will let you know how it goes. Thanks.
Debbie, thanks I hope it helps you. do keep me posted.
Sibu cites clinical research studies for both the skin and weight loss claims:
I looked and the studies they list, it didn’t look to me like any of them were on the sibu products themselves. I also saw at least one mouse study.
There is a VERY distinct point everyone is missing; this may clear up the day and night reviews.
The Sea Buckthorn BERRY oil is rich in omega-7; this is the product to go for; the one producing the benefits! Caveat: It does stink and stain, yuk.
The Sea Buckthorn SEED oil is NOT rich in Omega-7, but has a nearly 1:1 ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 … not any more impressive than mainstream oils, forget it; way overpriced, not superior to other cheaper, balanced oils!
Macadamia Nut oil has MORE omega-7 than most other oils but much LESS than Sea Buckthorn BERRY oil.
However, Macadamia oil is great for cooking does not stink or stain; can be used for high-heat cooking … MUCH more affordable … and adds the WONDERFUL benefits of omega-7 oil. Nevertheless, there is only so much oil a person should add to the diet … high in calories you know!
Smear Macadamia oil on your skin; use it for cooking for sure. Treat it as a healthful/affordable food and skin oil.
Buy the smelly Sea Buckthorn BERRY oil and treat it as a wonderful and expensive internal/external health supplement.
Avoid the unimpressive Sea Buckthorn SEED oil!
Sea Buckthorn isnt really know for weight loss.
The high levels of carotenoids in sea buckthorn berries may help protect against macular degeneration, an age-related eye condition.
Toni is right..I have anxiety disorder & 1 sea buckthorn oil capsule set off a terrible panic attack…I was terribly disappointed.
I have never seen anything on SBB for weightloss, it’s really good for you skin though. For me, i had a cut that wouldn’t heal properly even after 2 years. I even got tested for diabetes which was negative. I’d heard about SBB and decided to try a CO extracted oil directly on the effected area for 2 weeks & worked. Based on composition of fat composition on the oil, not sure what it would do for weight loss.
If you have a bad ANXIETY disorder DO NOT take sea buckthorn!!! It is like taking an energy drink which if you have a bad anxiety disorder you know will trigger anxiety and or panic. It feels like caffeine on the nervous system but less gittery but very mental.
Caralina Julian says
Thanks for all the information and comments posted here. It’s great to read others personal experiences with SB. My sister heard about it in her veterinary classes for use on animals. After looking more into it we are going to order some capsules to take ourselves and I will be ordering some for my dog. My golden has food allergies and I hope this will clear it up. I will comment back if we have any results.
I can’t speak to the effectiveness of sea buckthorn, but I can speak to the Dr. Oz show. I have a Director level marketing position with a company that shall remain nameless. This year we were able to get our product plugged quite easily on the Dr. Oz show. The reviews they gave the product were glowing – and I know for a fact there was no research other than the information we provided.
The fact is, a lot of these shows “sell” their reviews and promotion of various products. Normally, I wouldn’t care but I find it disturbing that a show would endorse a surgical procedure (which one of our services are), and promote products without taking a personal look into the studies surrounding them. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, really. “Dr.” Phil has no Phd but that’s never seemed to bother most folks.
Marketer, thanks for mentioning this! I thought something fishy was going on a few weeks ago when I was watching “The Doctors” and noticed that Nopalea cactus juice (which I just reviewed for this site) sitting on the table next to the doctors and, while they didn’t mention it by name, they did say that people could go to their website to find out more about it. Sounded like the Doctors were an affiliate of the product.
Appreciate you taking the time to fill me in on this!!
Kirsten Prien says
I have been using the juice form of the sea buckthorn. I have roseacea and want to loose weight. I have been taking it for a week now and haven’t really noticed any changes. I want to know how much of the juice is to be taken and how often. The bottle says 1-3 oz a day and I have been taking 3oz before I go to bed at night.
I have more ordered but it is not here yet and I also ordered the African Mango capsules to take as well. My game plan for me is to take the capsules and the juice together and see what happens. If anyone has any info on how much juice to take and how often, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!
Kristen, I would follow what they say to take. When your African mango gets there, I’d also just take that alone for a few days to see if you feel any different before taking both at the same time.
I started taking Sea Buckthorn a couple weeks ago due to the Dr. Oz show AND the First Magazine claims. Haven’t noticed any real changes with my weight, but I’m not sure I am taking the correct formulation. Try to take 2 caps at breakfast, and 2 at dinner…1200mg total per day.
Vitamin Cottage folks were not at all knowledgeable about this supplement when I purchased it. I have the dried berry in capsule form. 300 mg. per capsule, Solaray brand, vegetarian (nutraceutical corp.). Anyone have any info on this particular capsule/brand? I see most people refer to the oil.
Regardless of this supplements ability to help with weightloss, I find it has other redeeming qualities. 🙂
Only time will tell!
I just came from Central Market and the lady that works in the vitamin area knew all about the studies for sea buckthorn and weight loss. She said it has been circulating for years and was worried about needing to stock up on more of it. I didn’t ask her to tell me where she had heard it from or anything but I feel certain that Dr. Oz wouldn’t just make this up.
I’m trying it and will see. First Magazine also has several women in it that have lost 50 lbs in 3 months. Not everyone has the same results but it is worth a try if it has been around a long time!!!
Kristen, if you come across any better research than I have here please let me know about it. What I posted in my review is all I could find.
I just read all the posts and I was especially interested in follow-up posts from Susie and Sil. I have ordered this and I really hope it helps with my skin, digestive and weight issues. I have to say…I ordered it for the weight issues, but would love some of the other benefits that everyone else talks about too!
E b says
Thanks so much for your detailed writing and unbiased info! I’ve been trying to find out more about this and your article was the most informative by far! Very useful.
After reading through all of the posts, I’ve decided to give sea buckthorn a try. Would be great if I lost weight, but would be happy if it helps the skin and digestive system. Have psoriasis and ulcerative colitis, so maybe this will help. Will post back with my results.
Paula, yes please do so I’m interested to see if sea buckthorn helps psoriasis.
I’m still taking the capsules and use the oil on my skin. My findings so far, lost 3 more pounds, my skin is radiant and my eye sight has not changed. What I read was that you won’t lose weight, it helps keep new weight off and that’s what is happening for me. I am very active and my weight stayed the same before taking these supplements.