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by David Osborn, MH, L.Ac
Friday, October 17, 2014
I still vividly remember what was the coldest night I ever spent in my life.  It was in a little country cabin in Romania, in a small town in the sub-Carpathian region, in the middle of January.  I was snowed in, and the temperatures got so cold that night that the gas lines froze, and the little gas stove, which had been my only source of heat, petered out and died on me.  I piled on as many quilts and comforters as I could over my heavy coat as I curled up in a tight fetal position against the deadly cold.  A steady stream of watery discharge was flowing from my nose, it was so cold.
But as cold as it was, and as cold as I was, I didn’t come down with a cold.  Why?  Because my personal daily health regimen at the time included two to three teaspoons of dried, powdered Sea Buckthorn berries (Hippophae rhamnoides).  Not only is this mighty superberry a treasure trove of vitamins and nutrients, it is also one of Nature’s secret weapons against colds and respiratory infections.
What makes Sea Buckthorn berries such a potent weapon against colds, and such a powerful booster of immunity?  First of all, Sea Buckthorn berries are one of Nature’s richest sources of vitamin C, as well as bioflavonoids.  They are also rich in natural oils which are full of carotenoids, or pro-vitamin A for the health and immunity of your mucous membranes, which is one of your body’s first lines of defense against colds and flu.  They also contain phytosterols that boost the functioning of the adrenals and other endocrine glands, which support the immune response.  The flavonoids that these berries contain, as well as their assortment of virtually all the Omega fatty acids, make Sea Buckthorn berries a powerful regulator of the inflammatory response, to keep fevers and inflammation down and under control.
The Fabled, Exotic Sea Buckthorn Berry
Although the Sea Buckthorn berry is a relatively new arrival on the shelves of herb and health food stores in the West, its use in nutrition and natural healing is nothing new.  Its use is ancient, dating back to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, as well as Dioscorides, the compiler of De Materia Medica, the Greco-Roman compendium of herbal medicine that was the world’s foremost authority on the subject for over a thousand years.  Trekkers and travelers to the exotic, mystical land of Ladakh know them as Leh Berries.  Sea Buckthorn berries also have an honored place in Tibetan medicine.  The Sea Buckthorn berry is botanically hale and hardy, thriving over a broad swath of the Eurasian land mass that stretches from Mongolia and Siberia in the East to the Balkans and Eastern Europe on the West.  Russian cosmonauts took the Sea Buckthorn berry with them on their space flights as a nutritional supplement, and to fortify their adrenal glands and immune systems against the tremendous stresses that space flight entails.
How to Take the Sea Buckthorn Berry
In the United States, the Sea Buckthorn berry first became available in bottled juice concentrates.  The great drawback of this form of preparation is that these juice concentrates have been “flash pasteurized” (actually, all pasteurization occurs in a flash), which protects against microbial contamination, but also kills all the natural enzymes in the juice.  In Romanian “Plafars” (Plant Pharmacies), Sea Buckthorn berry syrups are available, which have been sweetened with loads of sugar; the drawback of this form is that all that sugar really neutralizes a lot of the health and nutritional benefits, and makes these syrups not advisable to take for those with diabetes and high blood sugar.
The best ways to take and consume the Sea Buckthorn berry, in my opinion, are also the simplest and most natural.  First, you can make a tea of the Sea Buckthorn berry by simmering it for a few minutes in boiling water; some say that the boiling neutralizes the vitamin C, but this is a rather minor consideration.  My basic form for taking the Sea Buckthorn berry is to grind the dried berries to a powder in an electric coffee grinder.  From there, you can either put the powder in gelatin capsules and take them, or just take a spoonful of the powder on the tongue and wash it back with a gulp of water.  One of the most delicious ways in which to take Sea Buckthorn berries is to mix the powdered dried berries with honey to make an herbal paste, or electuary.  The taste of this herbal jam is so delicious that your children will be begging you to give them more of it, which is, of course, exactly what you want them to do!  I have even gotten much more elaborate than this, using the Sea Buckthorn berry powder as the base for a tonic herbal electuary, along with many other delicious herbs and spices, as well as powdered Bee Pollen and Ghee, or clarified butter, to make my own version of the famed Ayurvedic tonic electuary, Chyawan Prash.  The possibilities for using the Sea Buckthorn berry in tasty and efficacious herbal medicines are virtually endless!

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