Sea Buckthorn: A Legendary Plant

Sea Buckthorn has a long history of medicinal and therapeutic use stretching back thousands of years. Known in various cultures around the world as a ‘wonder plant’, ‘holy fruit’, ‘liquid gold’ and a ‘superberry’, it’s no surprise that a plant as ancient and powerful as Sea Buckthorn has many interesting myths attached to it. So what are a few of the most popular Sea Buckthorn legends and where do they originate?

Many of the most well-known myths surrounding Sea Buckthorn come from Ancient Greece and Mongolia. According to one ancient Greek legend, Sea Buckthorn leaves were the preferred food of the mythical winged horse, Pegasus, and consumption of the plant played an instrumental part in getting the horse airborne. Another legend tells us that the ancient Greeks first discovered the power of the Sea Buckthorn plant in the aftermath of one of their many wars. Deserted and wounded horses from the war were found thriving after being left to wander in a jungle of Sea Buckthorn plants. Grazing on the plants had made the horses strong and healthy again, with shining, glossy coats. And another Greek legend has it that a special diet of Sea Buckthorn leaves and branches were fed to ancient Greek racehorses. In fact, the Latin name for Sea Buckthorn, Hippophae, means “shining horse”—a direct reference to these ancient legends.

More legends about Sea Buckthorn can be traced to Mongolia. According to one source, ancient tribes routinely allowed their ailing horses to wander free in the highlands, where they could graze on the Sea Buckthorn shrubs which grew wild there. After several days, the horses were reclaimed healthier and with shining coats. Mongolian legend also tells us that in the 13th century, the famous Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan credited Sea Buckthorn with giving his armies the incredible strength and endurance they needed to conquer their enemies.

One of the most interesting legends involving Sea Buckthorn is that regarding the ancient custom of boiling one’s enemies alive in oil. According to Mongolian medicinal texts, recommended oils for this gruesome practice included peanut oil, olive oil, and animal fats. Allegedly, one oil NOT recommended in the text was Sea Buckthorn oil—beside its entry was a note that due to the incredible healing powers of the oil, the enemy could potentially survive if boiled in it!

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