Despite what its name implies, the plant does not grow in salt water. Sea buckthorns are native to Europe and Asia, and according to the researchers, its seed oil is rich in omega fatty acids.
“The present study aimed at investigating whether dietary supplementation of sea buckthorn seed oil [at] an oral dose of 0.75 ml could affect cardiovascular risk factors and reduce hypertension and systolic blood pressure,” they wrote in their pilot study, published in Clinical Nutrition.
Data from the American Heart Association and NHANES showed that prevalence of high blood pressure in adults age 20 and older continues to increase. Data in 2013 showed that about 77.9 million US adults have high blood pressure—that’s one out of every three adults.
“Several studies have investigated the efficacy of dietary nutraceuticals in controlling dyslipidemia and hypertension,” they wrote. For this current study, the researchers analysed sea buckthorn seed oil as a potential nutraceutical ingredient for heart health.
Preparing the Hippophae rhamnoides
“Amongst the trans-Himalayan herbs, seed oil of Hippophae rhamnoides (commonly known as seabuckthorn) has been proven to be an excellent source of omega-3 (linolenic), omega-6 (linoleic), omega-7 (palmitoleic acid) and omega-9 (oleic acid),” they wrote.
“Despite these unique nutritional properties, the information on the anti-hypertensive efficacy of seabuckthorn seed oil is sparse in existing literature.”
The researchers used seeds harvested from the Ladakh region of northernmost India. The oil was extracted using a supercritical CO2 extraction method for three hours. The seed oil was analyzed for total fatty acids and bioactive compounds, and then encapsulated in gelatin by Ambe Phytochemicals.
Participants of this study were 18 male adult Sprague Dawley rats and 106 male humans (32 normal and 74 hypertensive and hypercholestrolemic) from India’s Ladakh region (or at least had lived in the region for the past 12 months).
The randomized, controlled, double blind longitudinal study was unicentric in the Ladakh region. The 106 qualified volunteers were divided into two groups. The first, with 32 members, consisted of healthy participants, meaning a systolic blood pressure below 140 mm Hg and total serum cholesterol below 200. The remaining 74 participants, who have hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, were in group two.
Group one was treated with sea buckthorn soft gel capsules, while group two was treated with either a sunflower oil placebo capsule (0.75 ml f) or sea buckthorn soft gel capsule (0.75 ml f). Supplementation was done for a period 30 days.
According to the researchers, compliance was ensured through daily supervised intake of capsules and counting of capsules. Physiological measures and blood samples were collected at baseline and one month follow up for all groups.
Results and observations
In the animal study, researchers said “no mortality or change in food and water intake, body weight and behavior was observed during the toxicity studies.” Rats fed a high fat diet resulted in dyslipidemia, but supplementation with sea buckthorn seed oil at an oral dose of 150 μl/kg b.w. reduced hypercholesterolemia to significant levels.
Whereas in the human study, the researchers also saw positive benefits of sea buckthorn seed oil. The systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure in sea buckthorn seed oil supplemented participants between baseline and follow-up decreased for group two members compared to the placebo sunflower oil group.
Moreover, group two participants who took sea buckthorn seed oil supplementation also experienced an improvement in their lipid profile and serum total antioxidant status compared to the placebo group.
“Hence, combined efficacy of omega fatty acids and natural antioxidants which are present in [sea buckthorn] seed oil has the advantage of synergistic as well as complimentary action of bio-molecules and together contributes towards reduction of cardiac risk factors,” the researchers wrote. Further studies with a larger population size at lower altitudes were recommended by the researchers.
Source: Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2016.07.013
Authors: Vivek Vashishtha, Kalpana Barhwal, Ashish Kumar, Sunil Kumar Hota , Om Prakash Chaurasia, Bhuvnesh Kumar