R E V I E W Open Access
Abundance of active ingredients in sea-
Aleksandra Zielińska and Izabela Nowak
Vegetable oils are obtained by mechanical extraction or cold pressing of various parts of plants, most often: seeds, fruits,
and drupels. Chemically, these oils are compounds of the ester-linked glycerol and higher fatty acids with long aliphatic
chain hydrocarbons (min. C14:0). Vegetable oils have a variety of properties, depending on their percentage of saturation.
This article describes sea-buckthorn oil, which is extracted from the well characterized fruit and seeds of sea buckthorn.
The plant has a large number of active ingredients the properties of which are successfully used in the cosmetic industry
and in medicine. Valuable substances contained in sea-buckthorn oil play an important role in the proper functioning of
the human body and give skin a beautiful and healthy appearance. A balanced composition of fatty acids give the
number of vitamins or their range in this oil and explains its frequent use in cosmetic products for the care of dry, flaky or
rapidly aging skin. Moreover, its unique unsaturated fatty acids, such as palmitooleic acid (omega-7) and gamma-linolenic
acid (omega-6), give sea-buckthorn oil skin regeneration and repair properties. Sea-buckthorn oil also improves blood
circulation, facilitates oxygenation of theskin,removesexcesstoxinsfromthebodyandeasilypenetratesthroughthe
epidermis.Becauseinsidetheskinthegamma-linolenicacidis converted to prostaglandins, sea-buckthorn oil protects
against infections, prevents allergies, eliminates inflammation and inhibits the aging process. With close to 200 properties,
sea-buckthorn oil is a valuable addition to health and beauty products.
Keywords: Vegetable oils, Fatty acids, Sea buckthorn oil, Gamma-linolenic acid, Human health, Aging process
Vegetable oils, as a rich source of fatty acids, have
gained a common recognition and found applications in
the market of medical and cosmetic products [1–6].
Fatty acids contained in these oils create an occlusive
film on the skin which reduces transepidermal water loss
(TEWL), thus contributing to maintaining the correct
hydration of epidermis [3, 7]. Moreover, fatty acids pro-
tect, regenerate and soften stratum corneum, relieve in-
flammation and ensure an appropriate structure of the
skin intercellular cement [3, 6]. Depending on the per-
centage content of individual ingredients, particularly
fatty acids, the effect of oils on skin and human health
may vary [1–4]. For example, the deficiency of oil results
in skin being deprived of the sufficient protective layer
and causes flaking . Vegetable oils, while playing the
part of a base in cosmetic products, protect against ex-
cessive water loss through skin mainly by forming an
occlusive film which covers the epidermis [3, 4, 6]. In in-
flammations, oils lower turgor of skin and reduce the per-
ception of pain [3, 6]. Triglycerides of long-chain fatty
acids play a significant part in appropriate functioning of
the human body [1, 2, 4, 7]. Vegetable oils play a significant
part in biological synthesis of cell membrane components
or icosanoids (eicosanoids: prostaglandins, prostacyclins,
thromboxanes, leucotrienes) . Oils take part in transport
and oxidation of cholesterol . Fatty acid deficiency
weakens blood vessels, lowers immunity, disturbs the
process of blood clotting and favours the development of
atherosclerosis [7–9]. One of the natural glycerides is sea-
buckthorn oil which has a rich chemical composition and
unique properties [9–14]. This oil is obtained as a result of
mechanical cold pressing or extraction from fruit or seeds
of the plant . The latest scientific studies confirm the
presence of many active ingredients in the extract of com-
mon sea-buckthorn (Hippophaes rhamnoides)obtainedby
cold extraction from the fruit of the plant [10, 11, 14], in-
cluding antioxidants, vitamin C, flavonoids, polyphenols
and polysaccharides. Nowadays, both the fruit of sea-
* Correspondence: email@example.com
Faculty of Chemistry, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Umultowska
89b, 61-614, Poznań, Poland
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Zielińska and Nowak Lipids in Health and Disease (2017) 16:95
buckthorn (Fructus Hippophae) and its seeds (Semen Hip-
pophae) are not only raw materials for food industry, a me-
dicinal product, but also commonly used ingredient of
cosmetic products, the properties of which are beneficial
for the skin . After taxonomic, chemical and sensory
tests of common sea-buckthorn fruit carried out at a uni-
versity in Finland, where sea-buckthorn is considered to be
a plant with special pro health properties, it was proved
that the fruit of Hippophaes rhamnoides significantly in-
creases the level of beneficial high-density lipoprotein
(HDL) cholesterol fraction . These results may help to
prevent cardiovascular diseases in healthy people . Inter-
estingly, sea-buckthorn fruit was known and valued already
in the ancient times, in particular, in traditional Asian
medicine. It should be noted that the generic name of the
plant, Hippophae, originated in ancient Greece, where sea-
buckthorn was fed to horses to make their coats nicer and
more shiny (Greek hippos –horse; phaos –shiny) [14, 15].
Botanical description of the product
Common sea-buckthorn (Hippophaes rhamnoides), also
called a Siberian pineapple, is a thorny, dioecious shrub
(or tree) in the oleaster family (Elaeagnaceae) growing
up to 7 m high [12, 16, 17]. It has a smooth or some-
times cracked bark. The name sea-buckthorn may be hy-
phenated to avoid confusion with the buckthorns in
Rhamnaceae family. Sea-buckthorn is also known as
sandthorn, sallowthorn or seaberry . The plant grows
in Europe, Caucasus, Asia Minor and Central Asia,
Siberia, China and Tibet [16, 19, 20]. Sea-buckthorn is
the most common species in the Hippophae family: H.
goniocarpa, H. gyantsensis, H. litangensis, H. neurocarpa,
H. rhamnoides L., H. salicifolia, H. tibetana, H. sinensis,
which grow from the Atlantic coast of Europe to north-
western Mongolia and northwestern China [20, 21]. In
western Europe sea-buckthorn is confined to sandy sea
cliffs, dunes and mountain slopes. In central Asia it is
found in dry and sandy areas, often as a subalpine shrub.
In Poland it is found usually on the Baltic coast, where it
tolerates salty soils and forms dense thickets [16–20].
The shrub is tolerant of both drought and frost as well
as air pollution . Common sea-buckthorn flowers in
late April and early May. The plant has long lanceolate
leaves covered in silvery hairs underneath. The shrub
produces a large number of small, green and brown
flowers which grow together in racemes. After the flow-
ering period, they turn into tasty and nutritious round
berries, usually yellow or orange, which ripen in Septem-
ber. Inside the fruit there is a smooth, small stone which
has a long groove and covers an oily seed [12, 17–22].
Sea-buckthorn fruits are bitter and sour in taste and
have a delicate aroma, resembling that of a pineapple
[12, 14, 15]. The berries are a rich source of vitamins C,
E and P as well as malic acid and citric acid. Harvesting
sea-buckthorn fruit is very difficult due to dense thorn
arrangement among the berries. Therefore, sometimes the
only way to get valuable fruit is to remove the entire branch
of the shrub, which reduces future crops [16, 17, 20]. For
this reason berries can only be harvested once every two
years [17, 23]. Sea-buckthorn berries have an impressive
vitamin content [12, 24, 25]. They contain mainly vitamin
C[11–14, 20] (approximately 900 mg%, depending on the
variety), but also vitamin A, that is alpha- and beta-
carotene (up to 60 mg%) and a mixture of other caroten-
oids (up to 180 mg% in total). Moreover, the berries contain
tocopherols, that is vitamin E (110 to 160 mg%), folic acid
(up to 0.79 mg%) and vitamin B complex group, i.e. B
(0.035 mg%), B
[14, 15, 24–28].
The fruits contain flavonoids (with an effect of vitamin P),
catechins and procyanidins, cyclitols, phospholipids, tan-
nins, sugars: galactose, fructose, xylose, approx. 3.9% or-
ganic acids (maleic acid, oxalic acid, malic acid, tartaric
acid) [11–14, 20], phenolic acids, e.g. ferulic acid as well as
fatty oil (the content of oil in common sea-buckthorn berry
pulp is up to 8 wt.% and in seeds up to 12.5 wt.%) [24–29].
The content of vitamin C depends on the variety of the
plant and its geographical location. For example, sea-
buckthorn growing in Europe in coastal dunes contains
120–315 mg% of vitamin C in fresh fruit, and the species
growing in the Alps contains much more vitamin –405-
1100 mg%. Chinese sea-buckthorn fruits (Hippophae sinen-
sis) are richest in vitamin C, with ascorbic acid content of
up to 2500 mg% [14–18, 21, 27–29]. Moreover, the content
of carotenoids with an effect of vitamin A is also high. The
content of beta-carotene is 40–100 mg% and other caroten-
oids such as lycopene, cryptoxanthin, physalien, zeaxanthin
account for 180–250 mg% [14, 15, 30–32]. When the ber-
ries are pressed, the resulting juice separates into three
layers. The upper layer is a thick orange cream, the middle
layer contains a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fatty
acids, and the lower layer is a juice which is a source of fat
used for cosmetic purposes [32–35]. Two upper layers can
be processed and used in making of skin care creams, and
the bottom layer is usually used in food industry as syrup.
Currently, the highly nutritious ingredients of common
sea-buckthorn berries are tested for their application in
medicine, i.e. in treatment of inflammations, cancers and as
adjunctive treatment after chemotherapy [33–39]. Bark and
leaves of sea-buckthorn used to be applied to treat diarrhea
and dermatological conditions, whereas berry oil applied
topically or taken orally softened the skin . In Indian,
Chinese and Tibetan medicines sea-buckthorn fruits were
added to medicines, as their ingredients were thought to
have a beneficial effect on the function of the alimentary,
respiratory and circulatory systems. Nowadays, many stud-
ies confirm the practices of Asian doctors from hundreds
of years ago [41–44]. Physical and chemical properties of
sea-buckthorn seed oil are contained in Table 1.
Zielińska and Nowak Lipids in Health and Disease (2017) 16:95 Page 2 of 11
Obtaining the sea-buckthorn seed oil
Common sea-buckthorn oil can be obtained from two
parts of the plant [45, 46]. Figure 1 presents one of the
exemplary and patented method processing of fresh sea
buckthorn berries for seed oil, pulp oil and juice .
Firstly, sea-buckthorn oil may be extracted in the
process of mechanical cold pressing of seeds which
contain up to 12.5 wt.% of oil [12–15, 48–52]. Secondly,
the oil is obtained by extraction or in cold pressing of
fruit pulp which contains 8–12 wt.% oil. The obtained
fractions are filtered [12–15, 46, 48, 53, 54]. The two
types of oils differ significantly in terms of appearance
and properties. For example, of all vegetable oils sea-
buckthorn fruit oil has the highest content of palmitoo-
leic acid (omega-7) of 30 to 35 wt.%, which is not as
high in sea-buckthorn seed oil [53–55]. The oil ob-
tained from juicy berries is a thick dark orange or red-
orange liquid with a characteristic smell and taste
(sourish, if pressed from fruit pulp) [53, 55, 56]. Sea-
buckthorn seed oil and fruit oil differ significantly in
terms of their content of active ingredients [45–55].
However, both oils contain a wide range of essential
unsaturated fatty acids (UFA), in particular unique
palmitooleic acid (C16:1) which is highly valued in
cosmetology. Both oils abound in tocopherols, tocotrie-
nols and plant sterols [50–52, 55, 56]. Unlike seed oil, pulp
sea-buckthorn oil has a high content of carotenoids .
In Mongolia, Russia and China pulp oil is used topically in
treatment of skin burns [58–60]. The oil has been
introduced to the local markets by cosmetic companies in
anti-aging cosmetics and oral care preparations.
Composition of chemical compounds
Sea-buckthorn fruit oil is characterised by a unique content
of fatty acids compared to other vegetable oils [61–63]. In
particular, it should be noted that this oil contains rare pal-
mitooleic acid (omega-7) which is a component of skin
lipids and stimulates regenerative processes in the epider-
mis and wound healing. Thanks to it, sea-buckthorn oil
activates physiological skin functions and reduces scars
[64–66]. Used orally it supports treatment of gastric, duo-
denal and intestine ulcers, while applied topically its soothes
and reduces skin burns (caused by sun exposure or radio-
therapy), chafed skin, bedsores and trophic skin changes
[64–66]. Additionally, sea-buckthorn oil contains saturated
fatty acids in the form of palmitic acid C16:0 (30–33 wt.%)
and stearic acid C18:0 (<1 wt.%), and it has a wide range of
essential unsaturated fatty acids (UFA), in particular so
called PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) [12, 61–63]. They
include alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) C18:3 (30 wt.%),
gamma-linolenic acid (omega-6) C18:3 (35.5 wt.%), linolic
acid (omega-6) C18:2 (5–7 wt.%), oleic acid (omega-9)
C18:1 (14–18 wt.%) and eicosanoic acid (omega-9) C20:1
(2 wt.%) [3, 12, 14, 15, 61–63] (Table 2). Such a high con-
tent of unique gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) has a significant
effect on the transport of nutrients. GLA is also a very im-
portant ingredient for skin, because as a building material
for components of intercellular cement it binds epidermis
cells. It is also a component of phospholipids which build
cell membranes [14, 15]. Gamma-linolenic acid improves
blood circulation which positively affects the supply of
nourishment and oxygen to skin, and it removes excess
toxins which as a result improves skin structure, appear-
ance and tone. GLA contained in sea-buckthorn oil easily
penetrates to deeper skin layers where it is converted to
prostaglandins. Therefore, GLA effectively protects skin
against infections, counteracts allergies, relieves inflamma-
tions and slows down the ageing process [67, 68]. Moreover,
skin deprived of this rare omega-6 acid becomes drier, less
elastic and susceptible to any lesions . The presence of
linolic acid (omega-6), which is a component of intercellu-
lar cement, results in stimulation of cellular regeneration
and regulates the functions of skin sebaceous glands .
The composition of fatty acids with various properties en-
sures multidirectional effects of sea-buckthorn oil in differ-
ent layers of epidermis. On the other hand, a high content
of saturated fatty acids (above 30 wt.%) causes the oil to
soften the epidermis and protect and secure it against trans-
epidermal water loss [61, 63, 67–69].
Saturated fatty acids
The most common saturated fatty acids in vegetable
oils include palmitic, stearic, myristic and arachidic
Table 1 Physical and chemical properties of sea-buckthorn seed
The parameter Value
color, absorptivity (L/g·cm)
232 nm 2.89 ± 0.03
270 nm 0.64 ± 0.02
303 nm 0.41 ± 0.02
410 nm 0.06 ± 0.02
diene value 3.16 ± 0.01
triene value 0.070 ± 0.002
p-anisidine value 34.19 ± 0.06
peroxide value (mequiv/kg) 20.68 ± 0.06
saponification number 190.00 ± 1.63
viscosity (mpas·s) 44.0 ± 0.5
carotenoid content (mg/100 g) 41.1 ± 13.4
tocopherol content (mg/100 g)
α155.0 ± 7.0
β16.4 ± 1.7
γ134.9 ± 2.8
δ11.3 ± 1.4
vitamin E equiv. (mg/100 g) 175.0 ± 8.0
Zielińska and Nowak Lipids in Health and Disease (2017) 16:95 Page 3 of 11
sistance to oxidation . Sea-buckthorn oil contains
palmitic and stearic acids [3, 12]. These acids form a
protective occlusion on the skin which strengthens
priate turgor and firmness of skin, and have smooth-
ing and softening properties [3, 12, 14, 15, 61, 63].
Unsaturated fatty acids
This group of acids includes fatty acids in the form of
colourless liquids, with double bonds. For most of them
all double bonds are in a cis configuration . Now-
adays, two main classes of unsaturated fatty acids are
distinguished. They are monounsaturated FA (omega-9;
ω-9; n-9 acids) and polyunsaturated FA (omega-6; ω-6;
Fig. 1 A schematic diagram shows of the patented method for processing of sea buckthorn berries for seed oil, pulp oil and juice
Table 2 Composition of fatty acids in sea-buckthorn oil [3, 12, 14, 15, 61, 63]
Common name Systematic name Content in wt.% General formula Numerical symbol Omega family
Saturated fatty acids
Palmitic acid Hexadecanoic acid 30–33 CH
COOH C16:0 -
Stearic acid Octadecanoic acid <1 CH
COOH C18:0 -
Unsaturated fatty acids
Palmitoleic acid (Z)-9-hexadecenoic acid 30–35 C
Oleic acid (Z)-9-octadecenoic acid 14–18 C
Linoleic acid (LA) (Z,Z)-9,12-octadecadienoic acid 5–7C
α-Linolenic acid (ALA) (Z,Z,Z)-9,12,15- octadecatrienoic acid 30 C
γ-linolenic acid (GLA) (Z,Z,Z)-6,9,12- octadecatrienoic acid 35 C
Gondoic acid (Z)-11-eicosenoic acid 2 C
Zielińska and Nowak Lipids in Health and Disease (2017) 16:95 Page 4 of 11
n-6 acids). Polyunsaturated FA have at least two
double bonds and 18 carbon atoms in an alkyl chain
. Sea-buckthorn oil contains linolic acid (LA) and
alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from this group which
cannot be produced by a human body due to a lack
of certain enzymes. Other polyunsaturated acids
found in the oil, i.e. gamma-linolenic acid, oleic acid
and palmitoleic acids, can be produced by the body
providing there is no enzymatic defect in the course
of metabolic changes [3, 12]. Linolic acid is consid-
ered to be the most important of all omega-6 acids
as other acids in this group, i.e. ALA or GLA can be
obtained from it [3, 7, 70–72].
Sea-buckthorn oil also contains the complex lipids
phospholipids and glycolipids that exhibit skin
moisturizing and soften the epidermis, improve
elasticity of the skin, reduce inflammation of the
skin, accelerate skin regeneration and cell renewal.
For example lecithin (also known as
phosphatidylcholine), belonging to the group of
phospholipids, has skin renewing and moisturizing
properties, as well as it slows the aging process and
furthermore, it removes excessive oil (sebum) from
the hair. According to the Shugam et al., the total
phospholipids content in sea-buckthorn oil was
1 wt.%. The lecithin content in this oil was detected
by thin layer chromatography . Other scientific
research  also have confirmed that the oil from
sea buckthorn pericarp contains from 0.2–0.5 to
1 wt.% of phospholipids. Among them, 5.8 wt.% has
been estimated to lecithin.
sterols, which strengthens the lipid barrier of the skin,
protects from harmful substances of external origin
and reduces the excessive water loss through the
epidermis, thereby improving the skin elasticity and
firmness. The petroleum-ether technique was used to
extract the highest amount of β-sitosterol (576.9 mg/
100 g oil), being the major sterol compound
throughout the berry and constitutes 57–83 wt.% of
total sterols . In turn, β-sitosterol including with
campesterol and stigmasterol were present in the pulp
oil with the latter having together the highest
contribution (97 wt.%). Using the petroleum-ether
technique, the quantity of cholesterol (4.5 mg/100 g
oil) was also extracted . In the sea-buckthorn oil
has proven the minor amount (less than 1 wt.%) of
liposomes, allowing the introduction of active
substances into the skin or ceramides that provide the
proper hydration and smooth the skin, as well as they
provide skin firming and regeneration .
Other bioactive compounds and their significance for a
In addition, sea-buckthorn oil contains many active sub-
stances, through which this oil has many different proper-
ties (Table 3). In particular vitamins A, C, E, F, P and B
complex are present in the oil [12, 14, 15, 34, 45]. Vitamin
A, found in the form of carotenoids (approx. 200 mg/100
g), provides regenerative and anti-wrinkle properties of the
oil [31–34, 57]. Vitamin C, the content of which is 15 times
higher than in orange fruit (approx. 695 mg/100 g), has an
antioxidative effect [58–60] and protects against harmful
UVA and UVB radiation [12, 14, 15, 38, 56, 78]. It also
evens out the skin tone. The presence of vitamin E in the
form of tocopherols (approx. 200–600 mg/100 g) and min-
erals and flavonoids strengthens the walls of capillary blood
vessels. Sea-buckthorn oil also contains sterols, fruit acids
(malic acid, citric acid), phenolic compounds, tannins,
phospholipids, anthocyanins, sugars, pectins and mineral
salts including sulfur, selenium, copper and zinc [12, 14, 15,
50–52]. The importance for human health of sea-
buckthorn oil have been proved by in vivo tests and have
Significance of fatty acids found in sea-buckthorn
oil for skin
Linolic acid found in sea-buckthorn oil plays a significant
role in skin. It strengthens the lipid barrier of the epider-
mis in dry skin and protects against transepidermal water
loss. Additionally, LA regulates skin metabolism [3, 14, 15,
68–70]. Linolic acid is also a natural component of sebum.
In patients with acne prone skin a decrease in the content
of linolic acid in sebum was noted. As a result blackheads
and spots form. Linolic acid used in the care of oily and
problematic skin can stimulate the function of sebaceous
glands, unblock pores and limit the number of blackheads.
LA is also used for the production of intercellular cement
[3, 69, 72]. Gamma-linolenic acid, which is also found in
sea-buckthorn oil, is formed as a result of action of delta-
6-desaturase enzyme in a process of metabolic changes of
linolic acid. Together with alpha-linolenic acid, GLA is a
component of cell membranes or mitochondrial mem-
branes of human cells [3, 7, 68, 72]. GLA and ALA are
also responsible for normal intra- and intercellular trans-
port (including the transfer of stimuli in the neuronal net-
work forming the brain) [3, 7, 70, 79]. It is assumed that
unsaturated fatty acids, in particular in omega-3 group
(mainly EPA and DHA), inhibit the development of neo-
plastic tumours as well as growth of neoplastic tissue and
its later metastasis . It was also proved that these acids
can reduce post-inflammatory substances, induced by a
harmful UV radiation. These compounds reduce the ef-
fects of sunburns, accelerate regenerative processes of the
damaged lipid barrier of the epidermis and soothe irrita-
tion [64–66, 68, 78]. Omega fatty acids: omega-9 (oleic
Zielińska and Nowak Lipids in Health and Disease (2017) 16:95 Page 5 of 11
Table 3 Composition of other bioactive ingredients contained in sea-buckthorn oil and their significance for a human health
Name of ingredient Quantity Significance
polyphenols 120–550 mg% antioxidant properties
- p-hydroxyphenyl lactic acid
- gallic acid
71 wt.% of polyphenols participation in the creation of dyes and protection against
the development of undesirable microflora 
flavonoids inhibition of thrombosis and hypertension [84–86], and
promotion of wound healing 
- (catechin, epicatechin, gallocatechin,
antioxidants, stabilization of ascorbic acid 
sterols 1 wt.% reduction of blood cholesterol level, importance in the treatment
of burns, huge contribution in the synthesis of steroid hormones
and other biologically active compounds [89,90]
sitosterol 48–53 wt.% of
tocopherols (vitamin E) 110 mg% antioxidants, according to the study, the degree of fruit ripeness
effects on the content of tocopherols [91,92]
α-tocopherol 62–68 wt.% of
δ-tokoferol 32–37 wt.% of
macronutrients they are energy-providing chemical substances consumed by
organisms in large quantities 
potassium 168–219 mg% affects muscle spasms
magnesium 8.3–9.5 mg% with calcium is responsible for the proper functioning of the
calcium 5–7.2 mg% for the proper functioning of the muscular system
micronutrients they are required by organisms throughout life in small quantities
to orchestrate a range of physiological functions 
iron 1.24 mg% component of hemoglobin, myoglobin and coenzymes many
enzymes involved, among others, in the formation of ATP
zinc 0.25 mg% participates in various stages of protein biosynthesis, ingredient of
insulin (also plays an important role in the storage of the pancreas),
regulates the concentration of vitamin A is used in the formation of
bone, stimulates growth and tissue repair (wound healing)
manganese necessary for proper development of tissue (especially bone) and for
the functioning of the central nervous system
copper 0.006 mg% cofactor of many enzymes
nickel 0.015 mg% component of urease - an enzyme decomposing urea into ammonia
and carbon dioxide
vitamins they have diverse biochemical functions 
vitamin C 900 mg% antioxidant, participates in the synthesis of collagen fibers, removes
free radicals and strengthens immunity.
vitamin A 60 mg% antioxidant
vitamin E (tocopherols) up to 160 mg% antioxidant
vitamin B1 0.016–0.035 mg% function as enzyme cofactors (coenzymes) or the precursors for
vitamin B2 0.03–0.05 mg%
vitamin B6 (Folic acid) up to 0.079 mg%
Zielińska and Nowak Lipids in Health and Disease (2017) 16:95 Page 6 of 11
acid), omega-6 (linolic acid), and omega-3 (alpha-lino-
lenic acids) lower transepidermal water loss and im-
prove the skin hydration level [69, 71, 72].
Unsaturated FA play a part of receptors which stimu-
late the synthesis of barrier lipids of skin and proteins
–precursors of a natural hydrating factor [70–72].
Sea-buckthorn oil in cosmetic products
Sea-buckthorn oil is used in cosmetic industry as an ingre-
dient of preparations for mature skin [12, 70]. It is most
commonly found in anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle products,
as it is a great antioxidant [13–15, 24, 36, 39, 58, 70]; it also
firms and tones sagging skin smoothing out wrinkles .
Sea-buckthorn oil is also appropriate in care of dry, irri-
tated (e.g. after sunbathing), rough, flaking and itchy skin
[38, 68]. It is used as auxiliary product in treatment of
frostbites and skin damage [54, 66] resulting from
exposure to UV radiation, x-rays and chemical compounds
[4, 38, 78]. Sea-buckthorn oil stimulates wound healing
(including necrotic wounds), stimulating regeneration and
processes of forming new healthy epidermis, and moreover
collagen synthesis . This oil reduces bedsores, treats
eczema and reduces spots, acne, allergic and inflammatory
lesions of the skin [40, 58, 66]. The oil is used as a sooth-
ing agent after cosmetic procedures e.g. peelings, baths,
masks, hair removal. Its presence in shampoos, hair condi-
tioners or preparations used after dying or permanent
wave treatment guarantees recovery, supports regeneration
of damaged hair, restores its elasticity and ensures
smoothness. Due to a high content of unsaturated fatty
acids [61, 68] and related fast rancidity process of sea-
buckthorn oil is recommended that it is used in the form
of capsules for cosmetic products [62, 81]. It is also signifi-
cant that sea-buckthorn oil, thanks to its intensive colour,
improves skin tone after direct application on skin, giving
it a fresh and healthy appearance [31, 34, 57].
Sea-buckthorn oil for human health
Sea-buckthorn oil as well as extracts from its fruit are
used as an adjunctive therapy in treatment of many dis-
eases [1, 2, 4, 8–12, 27, 37, 42, 43]. Sea-buckthorn oil has
a soothing effect in inflammation of the alimentary sys-
tem, duodenum or in diarrhea [37, 38]. It is successfully
used in treatment of chronic gastric ulcer disease and also
in inflammations of vagina and cervix and in cervical ero-
sion [1, 2, 37]. This oil relieves symptoms of rheumatoid
disease, lowers cholesterol level, stops small bleeding and
lowers the risk of thrombophlebitis [8, 9, 11, 37]. Sea-
Table 3 Composition of other bioactive ingredients contained in sea-buckthorn oil and their significance for a human health
vitamin K1 0.9–15 mg% normalizes blood clotting, and is essential for preventing
osteoporosis and normal renal function
vitamin D prevents rickets and osteomalacia
carotenoids 7.94–28.16 mg% antioxidants and plant pigments, anticancer properties [91,94–98]
δ-carotene 14–25 wt.% of
γ-carotene 30 wt.% of carotenoids
lycopene 30 wt.% of carotenoids
zeaxanthin and other carotenoids 15 wt.% of carotenoids
Table 4 Sea-buckthorn oil and its importance for human health
proved by in vivo tests –literature review
Function of oil Reference
✓has antiatherogenic properties
✓protects the heart
✓has antiaggregative properties
✓can be used in the treatment of
peptic ulcer disease
✓has antioxidative properties
✓protects cardiovascular disease
✓has commercial applications due
to the high level of ω-7
✓in the treatment of burns, chilblains,
bedsores, difficult healing of wounds
✓it is proved its application in the
treatment of peptic ulcer disease.
✓exhibits an anti-atherosclerotic effect. 
✓protects cardiovascular disease and
inhibits the risk factors.
✓has antioxidant, anti-ulcerogenic and
hepato-protective actions, and its berry
oil is reported to suppress platelet
✓has the antihypertensive effect due to
the flavones extracted from seed residues
of Hippophae rhamnoides L.
✓has dermal wound healing activity 
✓reduces the increase of the osmotic
concentration in tear film during the cold
season and positively affects the dry eye
✓has significant hepatoprotective effects
✓can be used as a food supplement
against liver diseases
Zielińska and Nowak Lipids in Health and Disease (2017) 16:95 Page 7 of 11
buckthorn oil is also recommended in febrile diseases, in
particular caused by viruses and bacteria . It is safe to
use by pregnant and breastfeeding women [14, 15, 78]. The
oil is effective in treatment of dermatoses and any skin dis-
eases and it supports the process of granulation of wounds
that are difficult to heal [64–66]. Sea-buckthorn oil
strengthens the structure of hair therefore it is used as an
effective remedy against hair loss or even balding. As
a natural source of well absorbed vitamin C, this oil
is used as an adjunctive treatment in a number of
conditions which require an increased amount of as-
corbic acid and as an agent supporting the function
of the immune system [14, 15, 67, 82]. Thanks to a
high content of carotenoids and tocopherols [12, 82]
sea-buckthorn oil can be used in treatment of burns,
frostbites, bedsores and skin damage, e.g. resulting
from the exposure to sun or x-rays [4, 38, 78].
Sea-buckthorn oil contains approximately 190 bio-
active substances including: saturated fatty acids- pal-
mitic acid C16:0, stearic acid C18:0, unsaturated fatty
acids- eicosanoic acid ω-9 C20:1, oleic acid ω-9 C18:1,
palmitoleic ω-7 C16:1, linolic acid ω-6 C18:2, alpha-
linolenic acid ω-3 C18:3, gamma-linolenic acid ω-6
C18:3, sterols, approx. 14 vitamins: A, C, D, E, F, K, P,
and B complex vitamins (B1, B2, B6), provitamin A, that
is alpha- and beta-carotene, mixture of other carotenoids
(up to 180 mg%), strong antioxidants (tocopherols, toco-
trienols), flavonoids (approx. 36 types), fruit acids: malic
acid and citric acids, phenolic compounds, approx. 11
mineral salts, including zinc, iron, calcium, selenium,
copper, tannins, phospholipids, anthocyanins, steroids,
sugars, pectins, approx. 18 amino acids.
Sea-buckthorn oil has a beneficial effect on skin be-
cause: it is a strong antioxidant –this oil fights free rad-
icals, rebuilds cells and delays cell ageing, supports
wound healing, reduces scars and discolourations, treats
dermatoses, eczemas, ulceration, psoriasis, atopic
dermatitis, acne, improves skin elasticity and structure,
provides appropriate hydration of epidermis, limits ex-
cessive water loss, protects against harmful radiation
(solar or x-rays), has a regenerative and anti-ageing
Sea-buckthorn oil is significant for human health
because: it supports the function of the immune system,
helps to fight infections and microorganisms, improves
circulation and heart function, prevents atherosclerosis,
lowers the level of cholesterol in blood, supports the
function of the digestive system and metabolism, relieves
the symptoms of chronic gastric ulcer disease and other
diseases of the stomach, duodenum, pancreas, liver and
intestines, prevents inflammations, improves the func-
tion of brain and the nervous system, lowers the risk of
malignant cancers, supports regeneration of the body
after chemotherapy and serious diseases, reenergizes and
revitalizes, positively affects mood and has an anti-
Sea-buckthorn oil contains an abundance of active
substances which is unique in known vegetable oils. Sci-
entific reports confirm the content of almost 200 ingre-
dients which ensure that the oil has a multidirectional
effect [3, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15, 67, 82]. Therefore, sea-
buckthorn and its oil may be considered to be one of
the most valuable natural products in the world. The
beneficial effect of various active ingredients contained
in sea-buckthorn oil has been recognised in food industry
as well as in medicine, pharmacology and cosmetic industry
[9, 11, 12, 26, 29, 32, 37, 65] where this oil is used more and
treatment in various diseases [1, 2, 4, 8–12, 27, 37, 42, 43].
Modern cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies search for
natural substances which display unique properties such as
sea-buckthorn oil, which added to a product even in a small
quantity will undoubtedly ensure its uniqueness.
(Z): niem. Zusammen, ang. Together; ALA: alpha-linolenic acid;
DHA: docosahexaenoic acid; EPA: eicosapentaenoic acid; FA: fatty acids;
GLA: gamma-linolenic acid; HDL: high-density lipoprotein; LA: linoleic acid;
PUFA: polyunsaturated fatty acids; TEWL: transepidermal water loss;
UFA: unsaturated fatty acids; UV: ultraviolet; UVA: ultraviolet A;
UVB: ultraviolet B
This paper is financed in the framework of grant entitled: “Cultivated plants
and natural products as a source of biologically active substances assign to
the production of cosmetic and pharmaceutical products as well as diet
supplements”(no. BIOSTRATEG2/298205/9/NCBR/2016) attributed by the
National Center for Research and Development.
Availability of data and material
Please contact authors for data requests.
AZ, collected, elaborated the literature and drafted the manuscript. IN,
collected the literature, coordinated and helped to draft the manuscript. All
authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Consent for publication
Ethics approval and consent to participate
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affiliations.
Zielińska and Nowak Lipids in Health and Disease (2017) 16:95 Page 8 of 11
Received: 13 April 2016 Accepted: 12 April 2017
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