Hawthorn is one of the most tried and proven medicinal herbs in use today. It has been widely studied and found effective for various heart issues, in addition to having virtually no side effects.
We encourage consulting a physician and following their guidance when gradually switching from a pharmaceutical drug for heart conditions - whether it be hypertension or a different issue. *NEVER stop a heart medication without your doctor's direction to do so.
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha), a rose family member popularly planted along hedges to deter trespassers with its prickly branches, has heart-healthy properties that ancient Greeks and Native Americans recognized centuries ago. Its modern reputation as a healing agent dates to Victorian times, when an Irish physician's secret heart formula was ultimately revealed to contain a tincture made from the bright red berries.
Hawthorn is now a frequently prescribed heart remedy in Europe. A potent antioxidant, it appears to work by opening up blood vessels that feed the heart, thus increasing this muscle's energy supply and enhancing its pumping power. It also helps to relieve mild or stable angina (chest pain), control high blood pressure, strengthen heart function, and reinforce a normal heartbeat.
HEALTH BENEFITS(based on clinical studies)
Hawthorn may assist in helping strengthen the heart muscle and its blood flow by dilating the coronary arteries. This may help to reduce feelings of tightness in the chest and reducing blood pressure. It may also help to induce a regular heart rhythm and acting as a beta-blocking and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor (1). Hawthorn is particularly helpful in treating heart conditions associated with aging. Specifically hawthorn may help to:
Control high blood pressure. A study of 92 men and women diagnosed with primary mild typertension were administered a hawthorn flower extract or placebo for four months. Data was collected on blood pressure readings monthly. At the end of the study the researchers concluded that the group receiving the hawthorn flower extract demonstrated a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure after three months of treatment (2).
Prevent atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is caused by when low density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol is oxidized causing artery clogging plaques. These plaques then become particularly dangerous as they build up in the coronary arteries because they narrow the passageway and ultimately affect the amount of blood flow to the heart. This can further lead to complications such as heart attack and stroke. Scientists are currently investigating hawthorn’s bioactive compounds as a substance that can prevent the oxidation of “bad” cholesterol in the body (3). More research is needed to determine the potential preventative applications of this supplement.
Treat Congestive Heart Failure(CHF).A study of 102 patients diagnosed with mild cardiac insufficiency showed that a preparation of hawthorn improved scores on 7 measures of cardiac insufficiency (4). The study however did not demonstrate a more significant improvement than that of conventional drug treatment. Other studies have shown that supplementing your diet with hawthorn may improve symptoms of heart failure such as dyspnea, fatigue and physical capacity (5,6). More research is needed to clarify hawthorn’s possible effects in the treatment of CHF.
Improve outcomes after heart attack and stroke. Early studies conducted on mice, rats and gerbils suggest that administering hawthorn may reduce the size of the attack, and prevent heart cell loss after experimentally induced heart attack or stroke (7-9).
Prevent liver disease.Scientists are also beginning to research the effects of hawthorn on the inflammation that is a hallmark of liver disease. Preliminary animal and cell culture study results are promising; however more research is needed to determine if this therapy is viable for humans (10).
Treat anxiety. Anxiousness, nervousness, and sleeplessness may respond to supplementation with hawthorn. Further study is needed to determine the appropriate dosage, length of treatment, and efficacy across populations before recommending this as a primary treatment for anxiety.
*If you take prescription heart medications, consult your doctor before taking this herb. Dosages of prescription medications may need to be lowered or altered in some other way when taken along with hawthorn. Never stop taking a prescription heart medication (or alter the dosage) without consulting your doctor.
1. Chang WT, Dao J, Shao ZH. Hawthorn: potential roles in cardiovascular disease. Am J Chin Med. 2005;33(1):1-10.
2. Asgary S, Naderi GH, Sadeghi M, Kelishadi R, Amiri M. Antihypertensive effect of Iranian Crataegus curvisepala Lind.: a randomized, double-blind study. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 2004;30(5-6):221-5.
3. Quettier-Deleu C, Voiselle G, Fruchart JC, Duriez P, Teissier E, Bailleul F, Vasseur J, Trotin F. Hawthorn extracts inhibit LDL oxidation. Pharmazie. 2003 Aug;58(8):577-81.
4. Schroder D, Weiser M, Klein P. Efficacy of a homeopathic Crataegus preparation compared with usual therapy for mild (NYHA II) cardiac insufficiency: results of an observational cohort study. Eur J Heart Fail. 2000 Jun;5(3):319-26.
5. Pittler MH, Schmidt K, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure: meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Med. 2003 Jun 1;114(8):665-74.
6. No authors listed. Even in advanced heart failure, hawthorn improves physical capacity.MMW Fortschr Med. 2003 Jan 16;145(1-2):52.
7. Veveris M, Koch E, Chatterjee SS. Crataegus special extract WS 1442 improves cardiac function and reduces infarct size in a rat model of prolonged coronary ischemia and reperfusion. Life Sci. 2004 Feb 27;74(15):1945-55.
8. Jayalakshmi R, Niranjali Devaraj S. Cardioprotective effect of tincture of Crataegus on isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction in rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2004 Jul;56(7):921-6.
9. Zhang DL, Zhang YT, Yin JJ, Zhao BL. Oral administration of Crataegus flavonoids protects against ischemia/reperfusion brain damage in gerbils. J Neurochem. 2004 Jul;90(1):211-9.
10. Kao ES, Wang CJ, Lin WL, Yin YF, Wang CP, Tseng TH. Anti-inflammatory potential of flavonoid contents from dried fruit of Crataegus pinnatifida in vitro and in vivo. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Jan 26;53(2):430-6.
11. Alonso Osorio MJ. States of nervousness. Useful medicinal plants. Rev Enferm. 2004 Mar;27(3):8-12.
12. Tankanow R, Tamer HR, Streetman DS, Smith SG, Welton JL, Annesley T, Aaronson KD, Bleske BE. Interaction study between digoxin and a preparation of hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha). J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 Jun;43(6):637-42.