And you can get this palmitoleic acid from two power-packed natural sources, sea buckthorn and macadamia nuts. Choosing between these two supplements, however, makes a huge difference in potential side effects.
Sea buckthorn is a tough plant with tough side effects. The sea buckthorn is an unusually tough plant. It grows by the seashore near cold waters, where the constant salt water spray kills its competitors. It also grows in cold deserts in Asia, such as those in Xinxiang in China and most of Mongolia.
For its offspring to survive, its berries have to be loaded with nutrients. Sea buckthorn berries contain more vitamin E than eggs, 15 times more vitamin C than oranges, and loads of palmitoleic acid, which serves both to protect the seed from drying out and as a kind of antifreeze against the worst winter conditions.
Omega-7 fatty acids and a laxative, too. To keep animals and people from devouring all their "young," the sea buckthorn also contains laxatives. These anthocyanin glycosides are activated by the bacteria inside an animal or human colon, and they cause spasmodic movements of the muscles that force bowel movement. Buckthorn is one of the major sources of natural laxatives in herbal medicine, and is still used to make laxatives in Europe and China.
Macadamia nuts grow in warm, moist, tropical environments. They have to produce enough nuts to continue to reproduce despite all the animals, including humans, that love to eat them, but the nut is innocuous. In a warm, rainy, tropical environment, the mother tree can always make more.
As you might imagine, getting your omega-7 fatty acids from macadamia products is safe. Getting your omega-7's from sea buckthorn can cause problems.
What kinds of physical changes can you expect when you use sea buckthorn? One of the most noticeable changes from using sea buckthorn is a change in the color and odor of your urine. The urine may turn dark yellow, similar to its appearance after dehydration, or dark red, leading you to wonder whether you have bleeding in your bladder or urinary tract. There may also be an odor that is something similar to the smell of old, musty books.
People who use sea buckthorn but do not drink lots of water may have painful bowel movements. And the cumulative effects of "natural" buckthorn deplete potassium, which can cause muscle weakness and irregular heartbeat. If you take a diuretic medication, the effect can be even greater.
Macadamia nuts don't have these side effects. You can take a more "natural" macadamia nut source of omega-7's without worry of any effects other than a possible need to count your calories, and even this isn't a problem when the supplement is taken in the lower recommended doses.
There may be one member of your family who should absolutely avoid even macadamia nut products, and that's the family dog. Macadamia oil causes muscle weakness in dogs, resulting in ability to stand. The effect wears off in about 12 hours if consumption is discontinued.
Omega-7 side effects are not inevitable. It's just a matter of choosing the right omega-7 supplement.
- Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, Rister R. et al, eds. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998:95-8.