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  30ENVIS SEABUCKTHORN – A POTENTIAL BIORESOURCEIN HIMALAYAS FOR THE UPLIFTMENT OFLOCAL LIVELIHOOD Introduction  Anita Tomar, V.R.R. Singh * and Vidya Rattan *   Centre for Social Forestry and Eco-Rehabilitation, Allahabad - 211 001*Silviculture Division, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun - 248 006 M ountain areas, on one hand, show distinct signs of unsustainability, decreasing soil fertility and a high degreeof instability. On the other hand, the spectrum of povertyand a degraded resource base is the plight of mountain people,especially remote mountain people because their productivity isamongst the lowest and their quality of life amongst the poorest inthe world (Jodha et al., 1992). The necessity of meeting increasingfood, fuel wood, fodder and demands generated by market forcesand public interventions are the most important factors, whichaccelerate the process of resource extraction both in forests and onfarmlands (Jodha et al., 1992). Some 80 per cent of the populationof developing countries depends on non-timber forest products fortheir primary health, nutritional needs and income generation (Foodand Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1995). The roleand contribution of seabuckthorn are crucial and more so amongstthe rural communities of developing countries like India.Seabuckthorn, locally called as Ames, Chharma, Dhurchuk,Gartsak and Sarla is one of the few potential wild resources in thehigher Himalayas. There are total five species based onmorphological variations viz . Hippophae rhamnoides L., H. salicifolia D. Don, H. neurocarpa Liu and He, H. tibetana Schlecht and H.goniocarpa . The main species of seabuckthorn distributed in Indiaare H. rhamnoides, H. salicifolia and H. tibetana (Table 1, Fig. 1).In ancient Greece, leaves of seabuckthorn added to horsefodder resulted in weight gain, healing the wounds and makingthe hair shiny. Thus, the plant named ‘ Hippophae ’ meaning It has potential tosupport high value-added products, whichcan be integratedwithin the marketeconomy, as well as tosupport therehabilitation andupgrading of marginalor fragile slopesthrough soil-bindingand building inmountain areas  Forestry Bulletin, 11(1), 201131 Species HippophaerhamnoidesHippophaesalicifoliaHippophaetibetana Distribution India, China, Tibet,Kazakhastan, etc.India, Tibet,Bhutan, NepalIndia, Tibet, ChinaAltitude (m) 2,850-4,500 2,700-3,700 3,000-5,200Plant height 2-6 3-10 0.8-1.2Flowering time May June MayFruit ripeningtimeSeptember-OctoberOctober-November August-SeptemberWeight of 100seeds (g)1.11 0.88 0.79Length (mm) 4.22 4.13 3.89Breadth (mm) 1.71 1.41 1.49Seed colour Dark brown Light brown Light brown Table 1. General characteristics and seed parameter of seabuckthorn in India shining horses. Studies have revealed that thefeeding of supplementary seabuckthorn leavesand fruit residues to pigs, goats and chickenenhances their weight. Because of its multipurposebenefits to the mountain communities it is called‘wonder plant’, ‘green hope’ or ‘cold desert gold’.During survey in Himalayan region it was foundthat local people had a very specific experiencewith this plant, confined mainly to chutney andpickles making only and they are totally unawareof its multipurpose uses. In this paperseabuckthorn’s multifarious benefits (Fig. 2) arehighlighted. 1. Medicine Among the many non-timber forest products(NTFPs), medicinal plants play a vital role insustaining the livelihood of rural people in manycountries around the world (Iwu, 1993; Carvalho,2004). It is estimated that 70-80 per cent of theworld’s population relies on traditional herbalmedicine, not only to meet primary health careneeds, but also for income generation andlivelihood improvement (Farnsworth and Soejarto,1991; Larsen and Olsen, 2007). In Himalayanregions, people’s livelihood is largely dependent oncollection, use, and trade of medicinal plants(Larsen et al., 2000; Bista and Webb, 2006).About ten varieties of seabuckthorn drugshave been developed and are available in the formof liquid, powder, plaster, paste, pills, liniments,aerosols, etc. These drugs are used for treating burns,gastric ulcers, chilblains, scales, oral mucosities,rectal mucosities, cervical erosion, radiation damageand skin ulcers caused by malnutrition and otherdamage relating to the skin. The most importantpharmacological function of seabuckthorn oil is in Fig. 1. Important species of seabuckthorn H. rhamnoidesH. salicifoliaH. tibetana  32ENVIS diminishing inflammation, disinfecting bacteria,relieving pain and promoting regeneration of tissue.Seabuckthorn has been shown to have a potentantioxidant activity, mainly attributed to its flavonoidsand vitamin C content (Rosch, 2004).Both the flavonoids and the oils fromseabuckthorn have several potential applications(Li and Schroeder, 1996). Many health claims areassociated with seabuckthorn. The berries seemto have preventive effects against, cardiovasculardiseases, mucosa injuries, skin problems, cancerand immune system support. External uses of seabuckthorn include treating a wide variety of skindamage, including burns, bedsores, eczema andradiation injury. 1.1. Antioxidant:   Seabuckthorn berries have highcontents of natural, potent antioxidants including:ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), tocopherols (VitaminE), carotenoids, flavonoids-isorhamnetin, querceinand kaempferol, catechins, proanthocyanidins andchlorogenic Acids. 1.2. Cancer: It has been estimated that 30-40 percent of all cancers can be prevented by lifestyleand dietary measures alone (World CancerResearch Fund and American Institute forCancer Research, 1997). Protective elementsin a cancer prevention diet include selenium,folic acid, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, chlorophylland antioxidants, such as the carotenoids(carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin)(Steinmetz and Potter, 1996). Drugmetabolizing, detoxifying and antioxidantenzymes are important cellular defensesagainst carcinogenesis. Based on researchfindings, it is thought that due to the antioxidantproperties of seabuckthorn, it may havechemopreventive and antitumsrcenic efficacy.Research has also shown that the constituentspresent in the whole extract manifestradioprotection by several mechanisms, like free-radical scavenging, metal chelation, chromatincompaction and hypoxia induction (Goel et al., 2003). It has also been reported to provideprotection to whole body, various tissues, cellsand cell organelles against lethal irradiation. 1.3. Cardovascular:    There is increasing evidenceto support the hypothesis that free radicalmediated oxidative processes contribute toatherogenesis (Ivanov and Nikitina, 1973;Eccleston et al., 2002). Research ( in vitro ) hasshown that antioxidant nutrients have the abilityto affect cell response and gene expression.Seabuckthorn is a rich source of antioxidantsboth aqueous and lipophilic as well aspolyunsaturated fatty acid which may providecardiovascular benefits. 1.4. Immune system: Seabuckthorn containsseveral nutrients that may help to strengthenthe immune system, by building immunity atthe cellular level. 1.5. Skin: Seabuckthorn seed oil contains a highcontent of two essential fatty acids, linoleic acidand linolenic acid, which are precursors of otherpolyunsaturated fatty acids such as arachidonicand eicosapentaenoic acids. The oil from thepulp/peel of seabuckthorn berries is rich inpalmitoleic acid and oleic acid helpful for treating Fig. 2. Different uses of seabuckthorn  Forestry Bulletin, 11(1), 201133 burns and healing wounds. This fatty acid canalso nourish the skin when taken orally inadequate quantities of seabuckthorn or its oil areconsumed; this is a useful method for treatingsystemic skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis.Seabuckthorn oil is already widely used alone orin various preparations topically applied for burns,scalds, ulcerations and infections. 2. Food Industry At present, many factories are producingseabuckthorn food, beverages and other productssuch as jam, jelly, juices and syrup. Along withtraditional foods, some new ones, such ascondensed juice, mixed juice, seabuckthorn carrot jam, candied fruit, seabuckthorn cheese,seabuckthorn butter, tea and health protection drinksare also being produced. The pigments of seabuckthorn are widelyused as a food additive. Seabuckthorn yellowconsists of flavours, carotene and vitamin E. Itsphysio-chemical properties, such as appearance,solubility, color value, heat and light stability andeffect of pH and metabolic ions make it a very usefulfood additive. 3. Land Reclamation Seabuckthorn is useful in reclaiming andconserving soil, especially on fragile slopes, dueto its extensive root system. Because it is resistantto drought and tolerates soil salinity and lowtemperatures, it is suitable for many situations thatare simply too demanding for most plants.Riverbanks, lakeshores, steep slopes and othersusceptible terrain can benefit from theestablishment of seabuckthorn. Windbreaks madeup of seabuckthorn are effective at preventing winderosion in open areas. The spiny shrub has evenproven to be beneficial in acting as a barrier topedestrian traffic, preventing sensitive vegetationfrom being trampled. Not only does seabuckthornprevent the loss of soil, but it also improvesdegraded soils due to its nitrogen-fixing capabilities. 4. Bio-Fence and Wildlife Habitat Biological fence around fields and homesteads,protect fields from livestock, increases yields, andalso provides fuelwood and fodder. Its intercroppingwith other domestic crops increases yields andimproves land productivity.A number of birds and smaller animalsseek refuge in their profuse undergrowth and alsoobtain essential nutrition from its flowers and fruits.It has been observed that a number of wildlifespecies depend on seabuckthorn stems, leaves,flowers, roots, fruit and seed. In the Loess Plateauof China, 51 bird species are entirely dependentand 80 bird species are relatively dependent onseabuckthorn for their food (International Centrefor Integrated Mountain Development, 2003). 5. Pollution Reducer  Seabuckthorn is useful in lessening pollutionresulting from erosion of contaminated mine waste,since it can be used to re-vegetate a variety of minespoils. Because seabuckthorn is naturally resistantto pests, it has limited need of pesticides that arepotentially damaging to the environment.Seabuckthorn provides long-term benefits in termsof maintaining the ecological equilibrium andimproving the environment 6. Landscape Management Tool One of the most promising tools to control landdegradation is re-vegetation and seabuckthorn isone of the species successfully used on a largescale. It can help to control desertification, conserveland and water resources and integrate economicexploitation with ecological rehabilitation. A livingwindbreak is a linear arrangement of plants,primarily trees and shrubs, established to reduceharmful effects of strong winds, such as soil  34ENVIS erosion. It also helps protect crops, manage snowaccumulation and create wildlife habitat. Plants thatserve as windbreaks must be resistant to the dryingeffects and physical injuries caused by wind andseabuckthorn is well suited to this task. 7. Fodder and Food for Animals and Birds  The leaves and tender branches of Seabuckthorncontain many nutrients and bioactive substancesand these are very good fodder for sheep, goats,donkeys and Himalayan yak and cattle. Leaves andfruit residue used as supplementary food canpromote growth of animals and poultry. There areno toxic or carcinogenic side effects. The leaves of either male or female plantshave similar nutritive compositions but in thenatural groves of seabuckthorn, it is often foundthat the quantity of male plants is larger than femaleplants (Lu, 1992). Because male plants do not bearfruit, their leaves can be used as forage, mulch,green manure and other commercial products. Inwinter, the importance of seabuckthorn increasesas it is almost the only food available for birds. 8. Fuel Wood and Timber  It is a good source of firewood. Resolving theproblem of energy shortage in such areas is a bigchallenge. So, seabuckthorn tree has proved to bea popular green energy plant because of its highquality biomass. Before the knowledge of high costof juice, the local people used the wood of theseabuckthorn in huge amount destructively.Blacksmiths and goldsmiths especially liked thecharcoal. The wood is also used for agriculturalimplements and wooden utensils. 9. Cosmetics Many kinds of seabuckthorn cosmetics have beendeveloped and tested in hospitals. It is proved thatseabuckthorn beauty cream has positivetherapeutic effects on melanosis, skin wrinkles,keratoderma, keratosis, senile plaque, xeroderma,facial acne, recurrent dermatitis, chemicalcorrosion and inchthyosis, as well as freckles.Other seabuckthorn extracts can improvemetabolism and retard skin maturation. Conclusion Seabuckthorn has been used by the inhabitants of the Himalayas since time immemorial as food,medicines, fodder and fuel wood. It has beendescribed as the most appropriate multipurposeoption for mountain areas because it helps inreconciling high productivity through intensive landuse in the mountains with land extensive usagesdictated by the fragility and marginality of mountainslopes. It has potential to support high value-addedproducts, which can be integrated within the marketeconomy, as well as to support the rehabilitation andupgrading of marginal or fragile slopes through soil-binding and building in mountain areas. However,local people have so far reaped a small fraction of its benefit despite the great potential of this species.As its outstanding potential remained elusivenot being exploited so far except for chutney by thelocals therefore it is right time to undertake in-depthscientific research on various aspects of thisunderutilised wonder plant species having hugeeconomic and ecological potential for sustainabledevelopment of the traditional mountain societiesinhabited in high mountainous regions of the IndianHimalayas. Besides, there is a strong need toencourage and motivate the people of Himalayasand make them fully aware about the diverse usesand value of this miracle plant, so that, they couldunderstand and come forward to cultivate them ona mass scale in their own agricultural and villagecommunity land in high mountain slopes and ondegraded and abandoned land which will not onlyhelp them to improve their ecological environmentbut also improve the economy of the region.
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