Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Effects of sea buckthorn berries on infections and inflammation: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial



To study the effect of sea buckthorn berries on the number and duration of common cold (CC) infections. As secondary objectives the effects on digestive and urinary tract infections (DTI, UTI), and serum C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations were also investigated.


A total of 254 healthy volunteers were randomly assigned to receive sea buckthorn or placebo product during the study, which 233 of them completed.


There were no significant differences in the number or duration of CC or DTI between groups (CC: relative risks (sea buckthorn vs placebo) for the number and duration were 1.15 (95% CI 0.90–1.48) and 1.05 (95% CI 0.87–1.27), respectively). In the sea buckthorn group, as compared to the placebo, the serum CRP concentrations decreased significantly (difference in median change −0.059 mg/l, P=0.039). The number of UTI was too small to draw solid conclusions, but the results indicate the subject merits further investigation.


Sea buckthorn berries did not prevent CC or DTI. However, a reductive effect on CRP, a marker of inflammation, and a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, was detected.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1


  • Ågren JJ, Julkunen A, Penttilä I (1992). Rapid separation of serum lipids for fatty acid analysis by a single aminopropyl column. J Lipid Res 33, 1871–1876.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Barrett BP, Brown RL, Locken K, Maberry R, Bobula JA, D’Alessio D (2002). Treatment of the common cold with unrefined echinacea. Ann Intern Med 137, 939–946.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brinkworth GD, Buckley JD (2003). Concentrated bovine colostrum protein supplementation reduces the incidence of self-reported symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection in adult males. Eur J Nutr 42, 228–232.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Caruso TJ, Gwaltney JM (2005). Treatment of the common cold with echinacea: a structured review. Clin Infect Dis 40, 807–810.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Conti C, Mastromarino P, Sgro R, Desideri N (1998). Anti-picornavirus activity of synthetic flavon-3-yl esters. Antivir Chem Chemother 9, 511–515.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • de Ancos B, Gonzalez EM, Cano MP (2000). Ellagic acid, vitamin C, and total phenolic contents and radical scavenging capacity affected by freezing and frozen storage in raspberry fruit. J Agric Food Chem 48, 4565–4570.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Desbiens NA (2002). In randomized controlled trials, should subjects in both placebo and drug groups be expected to guess that they are taking drug 50% of the time? Med Hypotheses 59, 227–232.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Dorhoi A, Dobrean V, Zahan M, Virag P (2006). Modulatory effects of several herbal extracts on avian peripheral blood cell immune responses. Phytother Res 20, 352–358.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Eccleston C, Baoru Y, Tahvonen R, Kallio H, Rimbach GH, Minihane AM (2002). Effects of an antioxidant-rich juice (sea buckthorn) on risk factors for coronary heart disease in humans. J Nutr Biochem 13, 346–354.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Finnish National Nutrition Council (2005). Suomalaiset ravitsemussuositukset – ravinto ja liikunta tasapainoon, 2005. Edita Publishing: Helsinki, Finland. Available on:

  • Gao X, Ohlander M, Jeppsson N, Bjork L, Trajkovski V (2000). Changes in antioxidant effects and their relationship to phytonutrients in fruits of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) during maturation. J Agric Food Chem 48, 1485–1490.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Geetha S, Sai Ram M, Singh V, Ilavazhagan G, Sawhney RC (2002). Anti-oxidant and immunomodulatory properties of seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) – an in vitro study. J Ethnopharmacol 79, 373–378.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Gwaltney JM, Buier RM, Rogers JL (1996). The influence of signal variation, bias, noise, and effect size on statistical significance in treatment studies of the common cold. Antiviral Res 29, 287–295.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Häkkinen SH, Kärenlampi SO, Mykkänen HM, Törrönen AR (2000). Influence of domestic processing and storage on flavonol contents in berries. J Agric Food Chem 48, 2960–2965.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heikkinen T, Järvinen A (2003). The common cold. Lancet 361, 51–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hemilä H, Chalker E, D’Souza R, Douglas R, Treacy B (2004). Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 4, CD000980.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hemilä H, Kaprio J, Albanes D, Heinonen OP, Virtamo J (2002). Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene in relation to common cold incidence in male smokers. Epidemiology 13, 32–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johansson AK, Korte H, Yang BR, Stanley JC, Kallio HP (2000). Sea buckthorn berry oil inhibits platelet aggregation. J Nutr Biochem 11, 491–495.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kallio H, Yang B, Halttunen T (2005). Flavonol glycosides of berries of three major sea buckthorn subspecies, Hippophaë rhamnoides ssp. rhamnoides, ssp. sinensis and ssp. Mongolica. The proceedings of invited speeches of the Second International Seabuckthorn Association Conference; 26–29 August 2005; Beijing, China.

  • Kallio H, Yang B, Peippo P (2002a). Effects of different origins and harvesting time on vitamin C, tocopherols, and tocotrienols in sea buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides) berries. J Agric Food Chem 50, 6136–6142.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kallio H, Yang BR, Peippo P, Tahvonen R, Pan RL (2002b). Triacylglycerols, glycerophospholipids, tocopherols, and tocotrienols in berries and seeds of two subspecies (ssp sinensis and mongolica) of sea buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides). J Agric Food Chem 50, 3004–3009.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kontiokari T, Laitinen J, Järvi L, Pokka T, Sundqvist K, Uhari M (2003). Dietary factors protecting women from urinary tract infection. Am J Clin Nutr 77, 600–604.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kontiokari T, Sundqvist K, Nuutinen M, Pokka T, Koskela M, Uhari M (2001). Randomised trial of cranberry-lingonberry juice and lactobacillus GG drink for the prevention of urinary tract infections in women. BMJ 322, 1571.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Langkamp-Henken B, Bender BS, Gardner EM, Herrlinger-Garcia KA, Kelley MJ, Murasko DM et al. (2004). Nutritional formula enhanced immune function and reduced days of symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection in seniors. J Am Geriatr Soc 52, 3–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Manach C, Scalbert A, Morand C, Remesy C, Jimenez L (2004). Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability. Am J Clin Nutr 79, 727–747.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Männistö S, Ovaskainen ML, Valsta L (2003). Finnravinto 2002 – tutkimus. The National FINDIET 2002 Study. Publications of the National Public Health Institute B3/2003. The National Public Health Institute, Nutrition Unit. Helsinki, Finland. Available on:

  • Meydani SN, Leka LS, Fine BC, Dallal GE, Keusch GT, Singh MF et al. (2004). Vitamin E and respiratory tract infections in elderly nursing home residents – a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 292, 828–836.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Middleton EJ, Kandaswami C, Theoharides T (2000). The effects of plant flavonoids on mammalian cells: implications for inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. Pharmacol Rev 52, 673–751.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Nettleton JA, Steffen LM, Mayer-Davis EJ, Jenny NS, Jiang R, Herrington DM et al. (2006). Dietary patterns are associated with biochemical markers of inflammation and endothelial activation in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Am J Clin Nutr 83, 1369–1379.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Nijveldt RJ, van Nood E, van Hoorn DE, Boelens PG, van Norren K, van Leeuwen PA (2001). Flavonoids: a review of probable mechanisms of action and potential applications. Am J Clin Nutr 74, 418–425.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Pearson TA, Mensah GA, Alexander RW, Anderson JL, Cannon III RO, Criqui M et al. (2003). Markers of inflammation and cardiovascular disease: application to clinical and public health practice: a statement for healthcare professionals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association. Circulation 107, 499–511.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pepys MB, Hirschfield GM (2003). C-reactive protein: a critical update. J Clin Invest 111, 1805–1812.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Puhakka T, Pitkäranta A, Ruuskanen O (2000). Flunssa ja sen komplikaatiot. Duodecim 116, 39–45.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Puupponen-Pimiä R, Nohynek L, Alakomi HL, Oksman-Caldentey KM (2005). Bioactive berry compounds-novel tools against human pathogens. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 67, 8–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Puupponen-Pimiä R, Nohynek L, Meier C, Kähkönen M, Heinonen M, Hopia A et al. (2001). Antimicrobial properties of phenolic compounds from berries. J Appl Microbiol 90, 494–507.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rees JR, Wade TJ, Levy DA, Colford Jr JM, Hilton JF (2005). Changes in beliefs identify unblinding in randomized controlled trials: a method to meet CONSORT guidelines. Contemp Clin Trials 26, 25–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rein D, Schijlen E, Kooistra T, Herbers K, Verschuren L, Hall R et al. (2006). Transgenic flavonoid tomato intake reduces C-reactive protein in human C-reactive protein transgenic mice more than wild-type tomato. J Nutr 136, 2331–2337.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Tiitinen K, Hakala M, Kallio H (2005). Quality components of sea buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides) varieties. J Agric Food Chem 53, 1692–1699.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Tiitinen K, Vahvaselkä M, Hakala M, Laakso S, Kallio H (2006). Malolactic fermentation in sea buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides L.) juice processing. Eur Food Res Techol 222, 686–691.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Turner RB, Fowler SL, Berg K (2004). Treatment of the common cold with troxerutin. APMIS 112, 605–611.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • van Oostrom AJ, van Wijk J, Cabezas MC (2004). Lipaemia, inflammation and atherosclerosis: novel opportunities in the understanding and treatment of atherosclerosis. Drugs 64 (Suppl 2), S19–S41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wannamethee SG, Lowe GD, Rumley A, Bruckdorfer KR, Whincup PH (2006). Associations of vitamin C status, fruit and vegetable intakes, and markers of inflammation and hemostasis. Am J Clin Nutr 83, 567–574.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Yang BR, Kallio H (2002). Composition and physiological effects of sea buckthorn (Hippophaë) lipids. Trends Food Sci Technol 13, 160–167.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Yang BR, Kalimo KO, Mattila LM, Kallio SE, Katajisto JK, Peltola OJ et al. (1999). Effects of dietary supplementation with sea buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides) seed and pulp oils on atopic dermatitis. J Nutr Biochem 10, 622–630.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank the volunteers who participated in the study. We also thank Terhi Pohjanheimo and Katja Tiitinen for development of the treatment products; Nina Kainulainen, Raija Nurmi, and Anja Pirinen for excellent assistance; Jukka-Pekka Suomela for the flavonol glycoside analysis of the study product; Saija Hurme for the statistical analyses of CRP data; and Marjo Mäkinen-Aakula and Ilkka Liukas for their contribution. We acknowledge the Finnish Agency for Technology and Innovation, Pakkasmarja Inc., Riitan Herkku Inc., Valioravinto Inc., Vinkkilä Organic Product, Turku University Foundation and ABS Graduate School for financial support.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to P Larmo.

Additional information

Guarantor: R Tahvonen.

Contributors: RT was responsible for the study concept, supervision and design. PL contributed to study design and was responsible for recruitment of the participants, data collection and entry, writing the manuscript and with RT and JA for analysis of data and interpretation of results. JA was responsible for the sample size estimation, randomization of the participants, statistical analysis of the data, and contributed to writing the paper. ES and HK contributed to the design of the study. RT, ES and HK revised the manuscript critically for important intellectual content.

Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on European Journal of Clinical Nutrition website (

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Larmo, P., Alin, J., Salminen, E. et al. Effects of sea buckthorn berries on infections and inflammation: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 62, 1123–1130 (2008).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Hippophaë
  • common cold
  • C-reactive protein
  • infection

This article is cited by


Quick links