Are Teas Safe With Hawthorn Berries – Written by Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA and SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD — Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE, Medically Reviewed Nutrition — Updated December 13, 2021.
These nutrient-rich berries have a tangy, sweet flavor. They range in color from yellow to dark red (
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For hundreds of years, people have used hawthorn berry as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart problems, and high blood pressure. In fact, the berry has been a key part of traditional Chinese medicine since at least 659 AD (
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Antioxidants help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can harm your body when present in high levels.
Free radicals can come from certain foods. You may also have higher levels as a result of exposure to environmental toxins such as air pollution and cigarette smoke (
Polyphenols are associated with many health benefits due to their antioxidant activity, including a lower risk of (
Although initial animal and cell research is promising, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effect of sea buckthorn on disease risk.
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Summary Hawthorn berries contain plant polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that have been linked to many health benefits.
Research has found that chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (
In a study on mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds, leading to reduced liver inflammation and injury.
In one study, researchers gave vitexin – a compound present in hawthorn leaves – to mice with respiratory problems. This treatment reduces the production of molecules that trigger inflammation and reduces the response of white blood cells to inflammation.
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These promising results from animal and test-tube studies suggest the supplement may offer anti-inflammatory benefits to humans. However, more research is needed.
Summary Hawthorn berry extract has shown anti-inflammatory potential in test-tube and animal studies. However, human research is necessary.
In traditional Chinese medicine, sea buckthorn is one of the most commonly recommended foods to help treat high blood pressure.
Animal studies show that hawthorn can act as a vasodilator, meaning it can relax constricted blood vessels, ultimately lowering blood pressure.
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A 10-week study looked at the effects of taking hawthorn extract in 36 people with mildly elevated blood pressure.
The researchers found that people who took 500 mg of the extract daily had reduced diastolic blood pressure – the bottom number in a blood pressure reading.
In a 2006 study, researchers gave 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract to 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure daily for 16 weeks. Those who took the extract experienced more blood pressure improvement than those in the placebo group (
Still, more studies are needed to back up these results. It is also important to remember that using an extract is not the same as eating the berries.
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Summary Some research suggests that sea buckthorn may lower blood pressure by helping to dilate blood vessels. However, more studies are needed.
Some studies indicate that hawthorn extract can improve blood cholesterol levels thanks to its flavonoid and pectin content. Pectin is a type of fiber involved in cholesterol metabolism (
Imbalanced blood cholesterol levels — particularly high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol — play a role in atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels (
If plaque continues to increase, it can completely block a blood vessel, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
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In an animal study, mice that received two doses of hawthorn extract had lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as 28-47% lower liver triglyceride levels, compared to mice that did not receive the extract.
Similarly, a 6-week study on rats showed that when the rats ate hawthorn berry supplements, they significantly reduced their levels of fasting triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol (
Finally, a 6-month study in 64 people with atherosclerosis found that taking hawthorn extract at a dose of 2.3 mg per pound (5 mg per kg) of body weight significantly reduced the thickness of dangerous plaque accumulation in the carotid artery (
Although this research is promising, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effect of hawthorn extract on blood cholesterol.
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Summary Animal and human research suggests that taking hawthorn extract can help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, more human research is needed.
People have used sea buckthorn berries and extracts for centuries to treat digestive problems, particularly indigestion and stomach pain (
Berries contain fiber, which has been proven to aid digestion by reducing constipation and acting as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods that nourish and promote healthy gut bacteria, which are vital to maintaining healthy digestion (
An observational study in people with slow digestion found that each additional gram of dietary fiber people consumed was associated with a 30-minute decrease in the time between bowel movements.
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In addition, a rat study observed that hawthorn extract dramatically reduced the intestinal transit time of food in the digestive system (
In addition, research in rodents suggests that compounds in sea buckthorn berries can improve the production and activity of digestive enzymes – namely those necessary for the digestion of fatty and protein-rich foods.
Summary People have used hawthorn berry as a digestive aid for centuries. It can help relieve constipation and improve the production of enzymes needed to digest fatty foods and proteins.
Sea buckthorn can help prevent premature skin aging caused by collagen degradation due to excessive sun exposure or ultraviolet light exposure.
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A test tube study found that a mixture of hawthorn and ginseng extract could prevent signs of aging by preventing wrinkle formation and increasing skin moisture.
Research suggests that this effect may be due to the antioxidant content of the hawthorn berry. But research in this area is limited, and human studies are needed.
Summary Some research suggests that sea buckthorn berries may help reduce the signs of aging as a result of their antioxidant content.
In a larger study of 264 people with anxiety, a combination of hawthorn extract, magnesium, and California poppy flowers significantly reduced anxiety levels compared to a placebo. However, it is unclear what specific role spines played (
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Hawthorn appears to have few side effects compared to traditional anti-anxiety medications. It’s one of the reasons why scientists continue to research it as a potential treatment for central nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression.
However, these studies used many types of hawthorn products, not necessarily the berry specifically. More research is needed.
If you want to try a hawthorn supplement to manage your anxiety, don’t stop using your current medication, and be sure to discuss it with a healthcare professional beforehand to make sure it’s safe for you.
Summary Scientists are investigating hawthorn supplements as a potential treatment for anxiety. However, currently there is not much research on them for this purpose. More studies are needed on the effect of hawthorn berry on anxiety.
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Hawthorn berry is best known for its use in the traditional context of treating heart failure, along with other traditional medicines. Heart failure is a condition where the heart cannot pump blood properly.
Several studies suggest that sea buckthorn may have beneficial effects without serious adverse effects in people with heart failure.
Studies show mostly improvements in heart function and symptoms of heart failure — such as shortness of breath and fatigue (
However, some evidence suggests that hawthorn may be harmful in certain cases of heart failure. One study found that taking it along with conventional treatment increased the risk of progressive heart failure (
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Summary In some traditional medicine practices, people often take hawthorn berry along with other traditional medicines for heart failure. However, it can be dangerous when combined with conventional heart failure medications.
Hawthorn berries can be hard to find in your local grocery store. However, you can find it at farmers markets and specialty health food stores.
Hawthorn berry supplements usually include the berry along with the leaves and flowers, though some include only the leaves and flowers.
Different brands and forms of hawthorn supplements have different dosage recommendations. Typical doses are 250-500 mg three times daily. However, research has not yet determined an optimal effective dose (
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Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements such as hawthorn under a less strict set of regulations than over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
Look for products that have received a seal of approval from independent organizations that evaluate the effectiveness and quality of supplements, such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Summary You can eat sea buckthorn berries in many ways or take them as a supplement. However, appropriate doses are still undefined and need further research.
Not many side effects have been reported from taking hawthorn berries. Those that do exist seem to range from mild to moderate.
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The most commonly reported are sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, rash, restlessness, and gastrointestinal effects.
While these are not life-threatening events, be sure to talk to a healthcare professional if you experience any of these symptoms.
Summary Side effects from consuming hawthorn berries tend to be mild. They often include sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, restlessness, and gastrointestinal effects.
Use of medicinal herbs as alternative treatment for various diseases has become more and more