What is Obliphicha

 

 

THE OBLIPHICHA or SHEA BUCKHORN

(Hippophae Rhamnoides)

 

Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is one of the important natural resources of the mountainous regions of China and Russia. The plant grows naturally in sandy soil at an altitude of 1,200-4,500 meters (4,000-14,000 feet) in cold climates, though it can be cultivated at lower altitudes and into temperate zones. Recently it has been extensively planted across much of northern China, and in other countries, to prevent soil erosion and to serve as an economic resource for food and medicine products. For example, Canada has invested in planting sea buckthorn, originally brought over from Siberia in the 1930s, hoping to develop a good agriculture market; Saskatchewan has ideal growing conditions, yielding a high quality product.

Aside from erosion control, the plant is primarily valued for its golden-orange fruits, which provide vitamin C, vitamin E, and other nutrients, flavonoids, oils rich in essential fatty acids, and other healthful components. The leaves are now also being used for making a beverage tea; they additional contain triterpenes.

The flavonoids of sea buckthorn (mainly from fruit pulp; also in the leaves) and the oils of sea buckthorn (primarily in the seeds, but also in the fleshy part of the fruit) are the two items specially extracted for medicinal use. Thus, for example, a flavonoid extract product is commonly produced that contains 80% flavonoids, with 20% of residual oils, vitamin C, and other components. Sometimes the flavonoid extract is combined with an oil extract; for example, a flavonoid-oil capsule (made from flavonoid extract and oil extract blended together in a soft gelatin capsule) is produced for use in treating cardiovascular disease.

 

HEALTH APPLICATIONS

Sea buckthorn has been shown to have a potent antioxidant activity, mainly attributed to its flavonoids and vitamin C content (1). Both the flavonoids and the oils from sea buckthorn have several potential applications (2). There are five areas of research that have been focal points for their use: as an aid to patients undergoing cancer therapy; a long-term therapy for reduction of cardiovascular risk factors; treatment of gastrointestinal ulcers; internal and topical therapy for a variety of skin disorders; and as a liver protective agent (for chemical toxins) and a remedy for liver cirrhosis.

 

Cancer therapy:

Most of the work done in this area has been with laboratory animals. A group in India headed by HC Goel (at the Department of Radiation Biology, Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, in Delhi) has published several reports on the potential of a hippophae extract (an alcohol extract, which would mainly contain the flavonoids) to protect the bone marrow from damage due to radiation; his group also showed that the extract may help faster recovery of bone marrow cells. In China, a study was done to demonstrate faster recovery of the hemopoietic system after high dose chemotherapy (with 5-FU) in mice fed the sea buckthorn oil. The seed oil has been found to enhance non-specific immunity and to provide anti-tumor effects in preliminary laboratory studies.

 

Skin:

An ingredient of the oil, palmitoleic acid, is a component of skin. It is considered a valuable topical agent in treating burns and healing wounds. This fatty acid can also nourish the skin when taken orally if adequate quantities of sea buckthorn or its oil are consumed; this is a useful method for treating systemic skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis (14). The only other major plant source of palmitoleic acid is macadamia nuts; the oil is used to nourish the skin. Sea buckthorn oil is already widely used alone or in various preparations topically applied for burns, scalds, ulcerations, and infections. It is an ingredient in sunblock-hippophae oil has UV-blocking activity as well as emollient properties-and it is an aid in promoting regeneration of tissues (15). The fruit may also be used for benefiting the hair: the name hippophae, means shiny horse, and refers to the good coat developed by horses feeding off the plant.