Sea buckthorn – Marvelous fruit of Himalaya

by Manazza Ayub (Institute of food science and nutrition,UOS)

Hippophae rhamnoides commonly known as sea buckthorn is a mountainous shrub widely spread in the region of Eastern Asia and Russia. In Pakistan, this deciduous shrub grows in Baltistan and Gojal region. This plant naturally grows in cold areas of high altitude but can also be planted in lower altitude and even-tempered areas. Sea buckthorn requires sandy soil with abundant organic matter to show its best growth. It produces orange-red oval shaped berries which have sour taste like lemon. Plant has linear, silvery leaves of 3-8 cm length. Fruit is rich in sugar, carotenoids, organic acids and vitamins specially vitamin A and C. Berries also contain Potassium (1499mg/kg), Calcium (383mg/kg), Iron (11.6mg/kg), Magnesium (47mg/kg), Zinc (0.94mg/kg) and Phosphorus (o.o2%).Fruit has brown color leathery seed which is 10% of the whole fruit. Seed is good source of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids with the ratio 32.3%, 40.8% and 15% respectively. This magic plant has its tremendous medicinal, economical and environmental uses since ancient time. It’s not only beneficial as a whole but also its each part (fruit, seed and leaves) has its own worth. Local people plant these shrubs as a fence around their fields to prevent intrusion of stray animals.

1:Eco.friendly plant:

Sea buckthorn has ability to reduce the water and soil loss because of its vigorous root system. Along with slowing the flow of water on sloppy land it also act as soil binder by holding the soil particles at its place. That’s the reason nature makes climate of Himalaya favorable for this plant. Lu (1992) reported that an 8-10 year old sea buckthorn can regulate 180 kilogram nitrogen per year. It is also use as windbreaker to prevent wind erosion.

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2: Pollution controller:

Plantation is natural pollution control system. Because of its nitrogen fixation and pest resistant quality, Sea buckthorn limits the use of fertilizers and pesticides thus in turn reduce chemical pollution.

3: Ornamental plant:

This is natural ornamental plant that is a great blessing of Almighty Allah. These colorful berries play their role in beautifying the northern areas and help in attracting the tourists.

4: Food source:

Sea buckthorn fruit contain 60 % juice which can be use to make many processed products like juice, jam, jelly. Its concentrate (syrup) is used in different recepies. It is also used as flavor in tea, chocolate, ice-cream, cheese, butter and candies.

5: Organic cosmetic:

Sea buckthorn pulp and oil is used for skin treatment by Chinese women since ancient time. They directly apply it to heal cuts, wounds, sunburns acne and dry skin. Its oil is also going to be used in cosmetic industry to treat skin issues like aging.

6: Economical benefit:

According to Tahereh Sheerazie (senior garden ranger) sea buckthorn growers of Baltistan sell berries in dried form to the markets at national level which further export it to foreign medicinal and cosmetic industries. People start business of sea buckthorns products at tourist spots and earn significant amount of money because of this indigenous fruit. It is good source of fuel especially for the locals of hindu-kush Himalaya. Its leaves are used as fodder for domestic animals.

7: Medicinal application:

Sea buckthorn has been used to treat many diseases because of its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties. Flavonoid extract of sea buckthorn not only reduce cholesterol level in heart patient but also regulates their cardiac functions i.e. blood pressure. It contains natural carotenoids which are beneficial for eye sight and its essential fatty acids are effective to reduce the eye dryness and redness. Studies indicate that it has tendency to fight against cancer and because of these anti-tumor properties it is going to be use as dietary supplement for cancer patients. This marvelous natural gift is also effective for asthma, ulcer, aging and nephrotic syndrome. That’s the reason it is in use in the form of paste, pulp, powder and liquid (tea) since thousands year.

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 According to Amjad Ali who is officer in Gilgit Balitistan’s planning and development department, government started a project under which they will not only work for the promotion of sea buckthorn products but they will also train locals related to its growing, harvesting and processing.

References:

Xing, J., Yang, B., Dong, Y., Wang, B., Wang, J., & Kallio, H. P. (2002). Effects of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) seed and pulp oils on experimental models of gastric ulcer in rats. Fitoterapia73(7-8), 644-650.

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