Expert Answers to Your Health Questions

| May/June 2007

  • Aloe is an excellent, gentle herbal skin healer.
  • If you have gum disease, try herbs that help support the immune system, such as echinacea.
  • Aloe is an excellent, gentle herbal skin healer.

Cosmetic Conundrum

For more than 20 years, I used cosmetic products containing methyl and propyl parabens, stearates, myristtates, oleates, etc. Last October, my face started showing red spots, which are the early signs of dermatitis. My doctor gave me steroids, but they did not help. My face is itchy and flakes out every day. Also, I am rapidly developing astigmatism. It seems the chemicals in cosmetics produce vapors that irritate my eyes. What can I do now?
Sunnyvale, California

KHALSA RESPONDS: This is a great opportunity to try sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides), a berry with a long history of treating skin problems like yours. Sea buckthorn has been used for centuries as a food and medicine in Europe, Tibet, Mongolia and China. Recently, it’s been showing up here in cutting-edge skin-care products. Farmers in eastern British Columbia and Manitoba are now cultivating the plants.

Oil extracted from sea buckthorn seed and fruit pulp is the main active ingredient with nourishing, revitalizing and restorative properties, and it appears in body oils, creams, soaps and shampoos. Russian research started in 1920s, and more than 70 scientific studies have appeared in the literature since 1956. Essentially, sea buckthorn oil has properties very similar to evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil.

Sea buckthorn oil contains 80 to 95 percent essential fatty acids, including substantial quantities of oleic and linolenic acids. Sea buckthorn has a high concentration of the rare palmitoleic acid (omega-7), a fatty acid that is a component of skin fat. It is rich in phytosterols (beta-sitosterol, beta-amirol and erithrodiol). It also contains vitamin E and several other tocopherols, and assorted flavonoids. A 2004 German study found the plant contains powerful anti-inflammatory proanthocyanidins.

Sea buckthorn seed oil is used to encourage the healing of skin conditions, including injuries, burns, acne, wounds and eczema, and to moisturize dry skin. Finnish research studied the oil taken in capsules for dermatitis. Forty-nine dermatitis patients took 5 grams (10 capsules) of pulp oil daily for four months and had significant improvement.

Applying the oil helps combat wrinkles, dryness and other symptoms of prematurely aging skin. For topical use, the oil is available as a liquid or cream. Take it internally as a capsule. A typical dose is 1,500 to 3,000 mg a day. For eye irritation, apply the pure oil as eye drops with a clean eyedropper.

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