Skin hydrating sea buckthorn oil supplements may also combat vaginal dryness, according to research commissioned by Finnish firm Aromtech.
The study due to be published in the journal Maturitas by researchers from Aromtech and the University of Turku found that sea buckthorn oil intake improved the epithelial integrity of vaginal mucous membranes in a clinical study with women experiencing vaginal dryness.
Urogenital or vaginal atrophy, the drying and thinning of mucous membranes, affects 40% of postmenopausal women, according to Aromtech. It can also impact younger woman who are breast-feeding or using contraceptive pills.
Sea buckthorn oil is derived from the orange berry-like fruit that grows on sea buckthorn shrubs. The fruit was used for over a thousand years in Chinese medicine and more recently in supplements intended to hydrate skin and slow the ageing process. It has also been linked to relieving dry eye problems.
Under the randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind study 116 postmenopausal women with symptoms of vaginal dryness took either 3 g of sea buckthorn oil or placebo daily for three months.
The study found improved rates of epithelial integrity of vaginal mucosa in those who took sea buckthorn oil compared to placebo, as evaluated by a gynecologist and questionnaires.
The authors attributed the improvement to the essential fatty acids, vitamin E and carotenoids in sea buckthorn oil, which were known to contribute to normal function of mucous membranes.
Safety of phytoestrogens
“Combined CO2-extracted sea buckthorn seed and berry oil, rich in n-3, n-6, n-7 and n-9 fatty acids, vitamin E and carotenoids showed beneficial effects on vaginal mucous membranes and has a long history of safe use supported by several clinical studies,” Dr. Petra Larmo, R&D manager at Aromtech, told NutraIngredients.
She said that preparations based on soy estrogens were often recommended for vaginal atrophy, but carried risks.
“There are some concerns on the safety of high amounts of phytoestrogens to women with increased risk of breast cancer… The use of black cohosh preparations for vaginal atrophy has been restricted by detrimental effects on liver associated with it.”
Aromtech manufactures and sells a sea buckthorn oil supplement called Omega7 SBA24. The product is sold in a 500 mg vegetable capsule with consumers recommended to take four a day for the first two to four weeks, then down to two if it feels enough to keep a moisturized feeling.
Maturitas, In Press
‘Effects of sea buckthorn oil intake on vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study’
Authors: Larmo et al.