Sea buckthorn refers to a group of six species of thorny shrubs that grow extensively along the coastline and in sandy areas of Europe and Asia. Both the pale, thin leaves and the small orange fruit have historically been used in folk medicine. The fruit of sea buckthorn is rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, which has led to its use commercial use in juices. Research is also being conducted as to the usefulness of sea buckthorn in the treatment of cancer. Sea buckthorn extract is also used in the treatment of acne.
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Causes of Acne
There are several kinds of acne that are all caused by a disorder of the pilosebaceous unit, which consists of a hair follicle, a hair and a subaceous gland. The most common form of acne occurs during periods of excess sebum production, usually brought on by the hormonal changes of puberty. Populations of Propionibacterium acnes, a bacteria that normally inhabits the skin and feeds on sebum, increases in response to the additional food supply. The immune system attacks the additional bacteria, causing inflammation of the pilosebaceous unit.
Sea buckthorn contains high concentrations of anti-inflammatory chemicals that may help to reduce the swelling and redness associated with acne. Sea buckthorn is also a mild analgesic and can provide relief from pain or irritation. Extracts of sea buckthorn contain compounds produced by plants to protect themselves from bacterial attacks and act as antimicrobials, with the potential of controlling Propionibacterium acnes bacteria.
According to the Institute of Traditional Medicine Online, palmitoleic acid is an ingredient of sea buckthorn oil that is also present in the skin. Supplementation of palmitoleic acid could help to nourish and restore the skin.
A 2010 study published in the "Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences" tested the effects of sea buckthorn oil on sebum production. The researchers found that sea buckthorn extract has potent anti-sebum effects. A reduction of sebum production could control inflammation of the skin.
Sea buckthorn oil is available in both pills and topical skin treatments. The oil can be applied directly to the problem areas but may be too harsh for sensitive skin. Commercial acne products containing sea buckthorn oil commonly contain ingredients to lessen the acidity.
Allergy to sea buckthorn oil is possible and will lead to reddening and swelling of the skin. Sea buckthorn oil may have negative interactions with antibiotics, blood pressure medication and cancer treatments. Sea buckthorn oil could also lower blood sugar levels and should be avoided by people with diabetes. Always consult your doctor before beginning treatment.