Hawthorn is often called “the herb of the heart” for its various cardioprotective abilities.
The hawthorn berry, prized for its ability to lift and strengthen the heart both emotionally and physically, has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for all kinds of serious heart problems.
These include angina, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, irregular heartbeat, and even congestive heart failure.
Hawthorn has been used to treat heart disease since the first century! Fast forward to the early 1800s and doctors in the United States also used this medicinal herb for respiratory and circulatory health disorders.
The fruit, leaves, and flowers of hawthorn are used medicinally today. The hawthorn fruit comes in the form of small red berries.
Native American tribes liked to eat them and they also used hawthorn to treat heart problems as well as gastrointestinal problems.
What makes hawthorn berries so medicinal? They seem to be its numerous flavonoids, to begin with.
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants known to effectively decrease inflammation while boosting immune function.
Eating a diet rich in flavonoid-rich foods, beverages, and herbs has been linked to the prevention of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as cancer.
Let’s take a closer look at how a little hawthorn berry can greatly improve the health of many people.
Nutrition facts of hawthorn
Hawthorn, also called maypole, is a deciduous plant. It is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae) belonging to the genus Crataegus. Hawthorn can be in the form of a thorny bush or a hawthorn tree.
Most of the time, hawthorn can be found growing along the slopes of sunny wooded hills. There are several species of hawthorn, many of which are found in North America.
A hawthorn plant has berries as well as flowers that bloom in May. Hawthorn flowers are red, pink, or white.
The small hawthorn berries appear after the flowers have bloomed. When hawthorn berries are fully ripe, they are typically red but are sometimes black.
These berries are edible. What do they taste like? Most people describe hawthorn berries as a mixture of sweet and sour.
Hawthorn herb is loaded with beneficial health compounds. These compounds have been shown to improve heart health.
The antioxidant flavonoids in hawthorn improve blood flow, protect against damage to blood vessels, and even help dilate blood vessels.
These flavonoids include OPCs. What are OPCs? OPC stands for oligomeric proanthocyanidins. OPCs are some of the most common polyphenolic substances found in plants.
Here are some of the many chemical compounds and nutrients found in hawthorn:
• Flavonoids, including hyperoside
• Pentacyclic triterpenes
• Acantolic Acid
• Neotegolic acid
• Chlorogenic acid
• Caffeic acid
• Vitamin B1
• Vitamin B2
• Vitamin C
5 health benefits of hawthorn berry
1.- Benefits of hawthorn for heart
• Hawthorn berry is best known for its helpful toning effects on the heart. As a “cardiotonic herb,” hawthorn has proven to be impressively helpful for all kinds of serious heart problems.
• These include heart failure, heart disease, angina pectoris, changes in heart rhythm, and atherosclerosis. According to a 2016 study published in the journal Current Medicinal Chemistry, hawthorn’s powerful heart benefits come from its high polyphenol content.
• To date, research has shown that hawthorn may even have a helpful effect on congestive heart failure (CHF).
Multiple studies have shown that hawthorn supplementation has resulted in an improvement in heart function based on several parameters.
These parameters include blood pressure, heart rate, cardiac output, and exercise tolerance.
• One particular trial gave 78 NYHA class II heart failure patients a commercial preparation of hawthorn leaves and flowers.
After two months, patients who received 200 milligrams of hawthorn three times a day had an increased work capacity of the heart, as well as a reduction in symptoms.
The hawthorn group also showed a decrease in systolic blood pressure during physical activity.
• Another German study also showed that a hawthorn extract (LI132 Faros®) worked almost as well as a prescription drug for heart failure (captopril). And, the hawthorn extract had fewer side effects.
• Another cohort study of 952 heart failure patients (NYHA II) resulted in subjects taking a special hawthorn extract (Crataegus) alone or as an adjunct to conventional treatment.
• After two years, fatigue, stress dyspnea, and palpitations (the top three symptoms of heart failure) significantly decreased in the hawthorn group compared to the non-hawthorn group.
2.- Benefits of hawthorn for blood pressure
• Many herbal practitioners recommend hawthorn berries, flowers, and leaves as natural blood pressure reducers.
A scientific study published in The British Journal of General Medicine had 79 types 2 diabetic patients who took 1,200 milligrams of hawthorn extract daily or a placebo for a total of 16 weeks.
• 71 percent of the study participants also took hypotensive medications. What did you find?
The hawthorn group experienced greater reductions in diastolic blood pressure.
However, there were no differences between the groups in terms of the reduction in systolic blood pressure.
• Hopefully more studies to support the use of hawthorn in lowering blood pressure are coming soon.
3.- Benefits of hawthorn for angina
• Decreased blood flow to the heart causes chest pain known as angina. It is sometimes confused with indigestion.
But, true angina can be a symptom of coronary heart disease. So far, research is showing that hawthorn can be an effective natural remedy for preventing and treating angina.
• According to a scientific article published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine and Toxicology, hawthorn bioflavonoids help to dilate peripheral and coronary blood vessels.
• This can improve blood flow to the heart, making hawthorn very helpful for angina.
• The proanthocyanidins in hawthorn are also believed to reduce the tension of blood vessel walls. Again, this is very helpful in discouraging angina.
• In one study, 80 subjects (45 to 65 years of age) with stable angina pectoris were randomly divided into four groups. The first group was the aerobic exercise group.
The second group took a hawthorn extract. The third group did aerobic exercise, in addition, they took a hawthorn extract. Finally, the fourth group was the control group.
• After 12 weeks, the researchers found that the combination of aerobic exercise and hawthorn supplementation was “an effective complementary strategy to significantly reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and heart problems.”
4.- Benefits of hawthorn for cholesterol
• Animal studies have shown that hawthorn berry extract can be a helpful natural remedy for lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the body. In China, hawthorn is called “Shan-Zha.”
• A study with animal subjects showed some really impressive health results from an ethanol extract of Zhongtian hawthorn, a cultivar of wild Shan-Zha, which has a larger hawthorn fruit.
This 2016 study revealed that hawthorn berry extract not only lowered overall high cholesterol levels, but also markedly lowered LDL cholesterol, liver cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as body weight.
5.- General health improver
• Scientific research conducted in 2008 revealed that hawthorn berry extract is excellent for decreasing inflammation. This is huge for health, as we know that inflammation is the root of most diseases.
• Research also shows that hawthorn berry extract is a free radical scavenger. This is extremely beneficial to human health as free radicals can cause cell damage (including DNA damage) by stealing electrons through a process called oxidation.
• The 2008 animal study also demonstrated how hawthorn extract has protective effects on the gastrointestinal system and appears to successfully kill various types of unwanted bacteria.
Interesting facts about hawthorn
• The berries, leaves, and flowers of hawthorn are used medicinally.
• Crataegus species like hawthorn are native to temperate regions of North America and Europe.
• Hawthorn has flowers that grow in small white, red, or pink clusters.
• When Jesus was crucified, the crown of thorns on his head is believed to have been made from the hawthorn tree.
• The first records indicate that the hawthorn was a symbol of love.
• The sweet, tart red berries of the hawthorn plant are used to make jams, jellies, wines, and cordials.
• Many species of hawthorn are used to make bonsai trees.
How to select and use hawthorn
How Can You Incorporate Hawthorn Berries Into Your Life? There are a few options. You can opt for hawthorn berry tea, either prepackaged or loose.
Loose hawthorn berries can often be purchased in the bulk section of many health food stores. You can also take a hawthorn supplement in capsule form or hawthorn extract in liquid tincture form.
So far, safe doses of hawthorn appear to be between 160 and 1,800 milligrams per day for a period of three to 24 weeks. Noticeable improvement in symptoms can take six to 12 weeks.
Side effects of Hawthorn
• You should not take hawthorn if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not give hawthorn products to children. The hawthorn supplement is recommended for short-term use in adults.
If any symptoms are made worse by taking hawthorn, you should discontinue use and seek emergency medical attention.
• For some users, hawthorn can cause nausea, an upset stomach, fatigue, sweating, headache, dizziness, palpitations, nosebleeds, insomnia, agitation, and other side effects.
• Although hawthorn is known to be great for the heart, it can interact with prescription medications taken for heart disease. Medications for other heart problems, high blood pressure, and male sexual dysfunction are also known to interact with hawthorn.
• Some specific medications known to possibly interact with hawthorn include digoxin, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers (CCBs), nitrates, phenylephrine, and phosphodiesterase inhibitors.
• If you have heart disease or any other health condition or are taking medications, check with your doctor before taking a hawthorn berry product or any other hawthorn supplement.
• It is also important to note that heart failure is a very serious health problem. It is best not to self-treat with hawthorn supplements if you suffer from this condition.
• Hawthorn is best known as a cardiotonic herb. This means that it can do wonderful things for the heart.
Studies show that the small but mighty hawthorn berry is loaded with health-boosting properties.
These properties can help several chronic health problems, from high cholesterol to angina.
• One of my favorite ways to start adding a moderate amount of hawthorn to a healthy lifestyle is to have a cup of hawthorn tea.
Of course, you shouldn’t take heart problems lightly. And, you should speak with your doctor before incorporating hawthorn into your treatment plan.