Did you know that there are two main types of oil extracted from the Sea Buckthorn plant? Both come from the plant’s famous bright orange berries. The first is Sea Buckthorn Fruit Oil, which is extracted from the fleshy pulp of the berry, while the second is Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil, which is extracted from the berry’s small dark seeds. Both oils are very difficult to extract and require care, training, and specialized procedures and equipment to ensure pure products. Currently, Mont Echo Naturels is only company in North America which extracts its own Fruit and Seed oils from 100% Canadian-grown fruit.
Not surprisingly, one of the most common questions we get at our Mont Echo Sea Buckthorn Interpretive Centre and Boutique in Quebec is about the differences between these two oils.
Well, though the Fruit Oil and Seed Oil share some similarities, including nutritional profiles containing Omega fatty acids, tocopherols, tocotrienols, and carotenoids, the two oils are actually quite different. Not only are they visually distinct from each other— the Fruit Oil is very rich dark orange to red in colour and quite viscous, while the Seed Oil is yellow to pale orange and more fluid—but they also have noticeably different nutritive profiles. Of course, it is also important to note that the bioavailability of both oils varies depending on the plant varietal, the growing conditions, the time of harvest, and the method of oil extraction.
Perhaps the most significant difference between the two oils is in their fatty acid profiles. Fruit Oil contains the EFA (Essential Fatty Acid) Omega 6 and, perhaps more significantly, the rare and highly sought-after Omega 7 fatty acid. Research indicates that Omega 7 supports and soothes the skin and mucous membranes, including those found in the gastrointestinal and urogenital tracks. It also assists with skin repair and cell regeneration, making the Fruit Oil desirable for use in skincare products for problem skin. However, due to its rich orange colour, it should be used sparingly or diluted when applied topically.
Seed Oil, on the other hand, contains the EFAs Omegas 3 and 6 in a near-perfect 1:1 ratio, and is also a rich source of Omega 9. Omega 9 has been shown to support immune function and may lower cholesterol levels. It is also very nourishing and protective for the skin. Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil is wonderful for use on dry or mature skin.
With such extensive and remarkably complete nutritional profiles, it’s no surprise that the two oils are valued for both internal and external applications. In fact, scientists and practitioners in many parts of the world are utilizing Sea Buckthorn oils and extracts in modern medicine and skincare today. Studies have validated the ancient texts’ claims of the efficacy of Sea Buckthorn in the treatment of a variety of gastrointestinal disorders and skin conditions, including eczema, rosacea and other forms of dermatitis, and current research is underway to study the effects of Sea Buckthorn on cancers, cardiovascular diseases and liver diseases.
So, Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil and Fruit Oil share some similarities but also differ significantly. It’s important to know a bit about each oil before considering one (or both!) for an application. And in fact, the best course is often to combine Sea Buckthorn Fruit Oil and Seed Oil in an appropriate ratio in order to benefit from the unique balance of nutrients– essential and nonessential fatty acids, carotenoids, minerals, amino acids, vitamins, and other bioactive substances– contained in each oil.