An often forgotten orange berry with a tart, tangy taste has been used in natural medicine for thousands of years—dating all the way back to Genghis Khan.
This berry is believed to promote better cardiovascular and digestive health and now, the latest research shows, it can also fight cancer.
What is this remarkable berry? The sea buckthorn, more commonly known as seaberry.
Seaberries are native to northern climates in Europe and Asia. Among those populations seaberries are commonly cooked to eat on cold winter days. Medicinally, traditional healers from Nepal to Russia have long relied on seaberry to relieve everything from colds and stomach problems to heart issues and eye infections.1
Legend even has it that ancient warriors like Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great also fed seaberry to their horses to boost their stamina.
Today, medical researchers believe these ancient healers were on to something, especially when it comes to healing cancer. In fact, the latest research on seaberry’s impact on cancer has revealed enough discoveries to keep scientists busy in their labs for the rest of the century.
Derails cancer cells from producing energy
Scientists have discovered that seaberries are rich in cancer-fighting compounds known as procyanidins. Procyanidins are a a class of flavonoids – natural chemicals in fruits and vegetables – that possess a variety of health benefits.
In the case of seaberry’s procyanidins, research shows that they interfere with the ability of cancer cells to create long chain fatty acids that are used to rapidly build cell membranes and provide extra energy.
According to researchers at Harvard, this fat production relies on an enzyme called fatty acid synthase.
And while fatty acid synthase is kept under a very tight rein in a normal cell, in cancer cells it’s allowed to run wild to help drive cancer’s energetic frenzy of growth.
The Harvard scientists note that the enzyme is “highly expressed” in a list of cancers that includes breast cancer, tongue cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer and many more.2 And they add that if a lab test shows your cancer is rich in fatty acid synthase, it probably indicates a “poor prognosis.”
Enter the remarkable seaberry…
When seaberry’s procyanidins clamp down on fatty acid synthase it derails the activities of cancer cells’ mitochondria (the little organelles that provide them with energy) and can lead to apoptosis – the cancer cell’s death via programmed cellular suicide.3
Along with causing apoptosis, this metabolic interference with the cancer cell makes it less likely that the cancer can become drug resistant and avoid being destroyed with chemotherapy.
According to the Harvard researchers, cancer cells use the extra fats they can make with fatty acid synthase to fight back against cancer drugs and survive cancer treatments. So, in theory, using seaberry together with chemotherapy could more effecively kill off tumors.
Mobilizes stem cells to regenerate the body
Added to these important actions, another intriguing way that seaberries fight cancer may also explain their myriad of other health benefits. I’m talking about how seaberries promote the health and function of stem cells.
For example, in one study, researchers fed a seaberry extract that was rich in the plant’s procyanidins to a dozen people and then, with blood tests, measured the effects on each person’s stem cells.
The stem cell analysis showed that consumption of the seaberry extract mobilized stem cells and caused them to more actively travel through the body to take part in “ongoing normal maintenance and rejuvenation of healthy tissue, as well as for specific repair and healing of injured tissue.”4
The researchers point out that this activation of stem cells may be the reason why seaberries can provide potent support for overall health, including, possibly, repairs of the body that lower the risk of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
They note that previous studies have shown that this type of increase in circulating stem cells is linked to better outcomes for people who’ve suffered problems like bone fractures, heart attacks, strokes, muscle injuries and other health issues.
Plus, they add, these types of stem cells have been shown to reduce inflammation and may support better wound healing. Of course, better control of inflammation may also shrink the risk of cancer.
They conclude that natural stem cell “mobilizers” like seaberries may represent “effective tools to improve overall health and to accelerate the healing process by supporting the actual process of tissue repair and reducing inflammation.”
Natural combination fights prostate cancer
Further research into the compounds contained in seaberries shows that combining them with other nutrients may lead to a synergistic cancer-killing effect.
For example, research at the University of Texas demonstrates that mixing seaberries’ ursolic acid with the curcumin from turmeric or the resveratrol in grapes, could be effective against prostate cancer.5
The Texas tests show that the mixture of ursolic acid with curcumin or resveratrol keeps cancer cells from taking in and using glutamine – a substance that cancer cells need to keep their mitochondria functioning. Believe it or not, malignant cells have such a large appetite for glutamine that researchers at the University of Pennsylvania call it an “addiction.”6
In addition, another investigation at the University of Texas indicates that combining ursolic acid with curcumin can prevent skin cancer.7
If you’re interested in adding this tiny, nutritious berry to your daily regimen, you have many choices. In addition to eating the fresh fruit—if you can find it—seaberries are also available dried, powdered, as teas, and as nutritional supplements.
Because an impressive human study shows seaberry can boost the production of a person’s stem cells, our sister company Green Valley Natural Solutions includes seaberry in Stem Cell Restore, its stem cell boosting supplement. Naturally Green Valley does not claim Stem Cell Restore can treat or prevent any disease because the studies cited earlier in this article have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration and seaberry is not approved as a medical treatment. The evidence available is not conclusive enough to make such claims and obtain FDA approval.