Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae spp.)
Sea Buckthorn is a small deciduous tree or shrub that grows into a thicket. It can reach a height of 20 feet. The leaves are dark green and shiny, and the plant produces black berries about the size and shape of a pea. Native to China and other parts of Asia as well as across Europe, buckthorn has been used for many centuries as an herbal medicine.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Sea Buckthorn is an herbal medicine of "last resort" to treat constipation, or in circumstances where the stool needs to be softened, like hemorrhoids or during recovery from rectal surgery. It is a diuretic and was used as a blood purifier. Buckthorn is also used to treat gallstones and intestinal parasites. Some studies are underway to test this herb's efficacy in fighting cancer, especially leukemia. Early results look promising. Some people take it as a liver tonic.
Externally Buckthorn is used in very small amounts for skin problems. Ointment can be applied to warts or itchy body parts.
Other Uses Buckthorn has also been used to make veneer, wooden nails and shoe lasts. The charcoal from the buckthorn tree has been added to gunpowder. Bark will produce a yellow dye, while unripe berries make a green dye.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Some people have found it works best to take peppermint herbal tea or capsules along with their buckthorn to prevent griping, which is contractions of the colon. The herb also combines well with cascara sagrada, red clover, pumpkin seeds, marshmallow, culver root, dandelion, slippery elm, black walnut, ginger and quassia. For a skin lesion formula, buckthorn can be mixed with chickweed, rose hips, St. John's wort, calendula flowers and plantain.
Bark, berries Both the bark and the berries are used medicinally.
Sea Buckthorn should not be used during pregnancy or lactation or in children under 12 years of age. If you have inflammation of the intestines or obstruction like Crohn's disease, appendicitis or colitis, do not use buckthorn. Side effects include, but may not be limited to, vomiting. Do not use fresh buckthorn.
Preparation and Dosage
Fresh buckthorn should never be used, only dried. Capsules can be found commercially. Take the smallest amount necessary to sustain regular movement of the bowels.
For tincture, 5 ml taken at bedtime is the usual dose. Be sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Take buckthorn every day for a maximum of 8 to 10 days. If taken longer than that, it can lead to the body depending on the herb to initiate bowel movements.