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Benefits Of Hawthorn Berries For Skin
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Hawthorn: Benefits, Side Effects, And Preparations
Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a link to a scientific study. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc…]” means that the information is not abstract but within the scope of a full scientific study.
Hawthorn is the oldest medicinal plant in Europe. Its flowers, leaves and fruits are highly valued, especially in the treatment of heart ailments. This herb may have additional benefits for people with high cholesterol, diabetes, and anxiety. Read on to learn more about hawthorn and how to use it safely.
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) is a thorny tree or shrub with white flowers and red berries. Although the name “hawthorn” originally referred to common hawthorn (C. monogyna), it is now used for the entire genus and even for its relative (Rhaphiolepis) [1+].
Hawthorn is native to Europe, North America, and Asia. They belong to the same family as many edible fruits, including roses, apples, pears, plums, and cherries (Rosaceae) .
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Hawthorn is the oldest medicinal plant in Europe, its use being first documented 2000 years ago. In European and American folk medicine, it is used for [3+, 4+, 2].
The German Commission E approved the use of hawthorn in mild heart failure in the 1980s. Hawthorn extract is mainly obtained from common and English hawthorn (C. laevigata), their hybrids and other European species [3+].
Extracts used in Europe and America are obtained from fruits, leaves and flowers. Fruits should contain at least 1% procyanidin, while leaves and flowers should contain 1.5% [1+] of flavonoids.
In China, only the fruit and leaves are used. There are no requirements for the fruit, but the leaves must contain at least 7% flavonoids and 0.05% hyperoside [1+].
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In China and Europe, the fruit is eaten fresh or used to make wine, jam, and candy [1+].
Flavonoids are most concentrated in flowers. Berries are also rich, but the ripe ones are less. The leaves are rich in vitexin and oligomeric proanthocyanidins [10, 11+].
Although not FDA approved, hawthorn extract is marketed as a dietary supplement specifically for heart disease. Regulations set manufacturing standards, but they do not guarantee that they are safe or effective. To avoid unexpected interactions, talk to your doctor before using hawthorn.
Although conventional treatments improve symptoms and reduce mortality, the quality of life of people with heart failure often decreases. Hawthorn can be combined with drugs and implants to improve heart failure .
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Hawthorn extract (240-1, 800 mg/day) improves mild heart failure in two meta-analyses and 8 studies of more than 4,000 people, both alone and as adjunctive therapy. It reduced fatigue and shortness of breath while increasing compression strength [ 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 ].
However, in 2 studies of nearly 3,000 people taking conventional medicine, the extract did not improve symptoms of heart failure; it only reduced the risk of sudden death. Most of the included subjects had moderate to severe heart failure, so the dose may have been insufficient [22, 23].
Hawthorn homeopathic remedies are also used, but these may not contain the active compounds. In tests on more than 200 people, homeopathic hawthorn (10-20 drops, 3 times a day) was as effective as conventional medicine. However, the study had a number of shortcomings (randomization, blinding, assessment of subjective parameters, short-term follow-up) [24+].
In people with heart failure, venous blood stagnates in the legs, causing them to swell. In 2 studies of more than 1000 people with heart failure, hawthorn extract (900 mg/day) reduced leg edema [14, 15].
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In mice and cells, the extract reduced blood flow by strengthening the inner walls of blood vessels [25, 26].
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High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for heart disease. Hawthorn extract (500-1, 200 mg/day) reduced blood pressure in 4 clinical trials involving nearly 300 people [27+, 28, 29, 30, 18].
The extract also lowered blood pressure and attenuated arterial vasodilation in tissue studies in rats [ 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 ].
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Orthostatic hypotension (literally, “low blood pressure when standing up”) is a condition in which blood pressure drops sharply after standing up quickly.
In Germany, a combination of hawthorn berries and camphor is often used to raise blood pressure in people with orthostatic hypotension. This drug (5-80 drops per day) has undergone 6 clinical trials on more than 500 people, but its rapid action suggests that camphor is responsible for the effect [36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41].
Hawthorn is a time-tested natural remedy for mild heart conditions such as heart failure and high blood pressure. It can be safely added to traditional medicines and interventions. However, short-term or single use may not be effective in people with heart disease.
However, note that hawthorn is not approved by the FDA for heart disease. You can use this herb if you and your doctor feel it is appropriate for your arthritis. Remember that hawthorn should never be taken without medical advice.
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Poor blood and oxygen supply to the heart is caused by blockages in the arteries that supply the heart (coronary arteries). This eventually causes chest pain or angina [42+].
Cholesterol buildup in the arteries is the most common cause of chest pain. In a clinical trial of 80 subjects with chest pain, hawthorn extract (240 mg, twice daily) combined with exercise prevented arterial occlusion .
Hawthorn tablets were effective in relieving chest pain in a Chinese clinical trial of 46 people. However, we did not have access to study specificity to analyze this [44+].
In animals and tissues, hawthorn extract prevents elevated blood cholesterol, inflammation, free radical damage to LDL, and thickening of arterial walls, all of which increase the risk of occlusion [ 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 , 49 , 50 ].
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Coronary arteries are also blocked by blood clots. Hawthorn extract prevented platelet aggregation in animals and in test tubes, but high doses (2400 mg/day) were ineffective in 16 human trials [51, 52, 53, 54, 55+].
Surgery to remove blockages in blood vessels can damage their inner walls, causing the blood vessels to narrow. In rats, hawthorn extract prevented this undesirable effect .
In a trial of 49 people, hawthorn extract (400 mg, 3 times/day) reduced blood cholesterol levels, both free and LDL. Similarly, a complex containing 129 mg of hawthorn and other herbs (Asiatic waterwort, corn silk, Chinese knotweed, lingzhi mushroom, and mulberry) reduced LDL cholesterol in a trial in 42 subjects (4 capsules, twice daily) [57, 58].
Overall, there is insufficient evidence that hawthorn lowers cholesterol. Further clinical studies are needed to confirm these preliminary findings.
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In a clinical trial of over 250 people with anxiety disorders, a supplement containing hawthorn, California poppy, and magnesium (2 tablets, twice daily) reduced anxiety. Similarly, a preparation containing hawthorn and other herbs (purple flower, valerian, black wormwood, guarana, kola nut) was effective in a trial in almost 200 subjects (2 tablets, 3 times/day) [63, 64].
However, many of the natural compounds used in the above ingredients have anti-anxiety properties. It is difficult to say whether it contributed to the benefits of hawthorn.
Chronic stress and depression are closely related. Chinese, but different extracts of common hawthorn reduce depression in stressed mice [67, 68, 69, 70].
Two clinical studies using hawthorn as an herbal mixture and a few animal studies cannot be considered sufficient evidence. Additional clinical trials testing hawthorn alone are needed to see if it has anti-anxiety effects in humans.
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Traditional Chinese medicine containing hawthorn, goji berries, saffron, kombu, and mulberry extracts (Menoprogren, 4 times a day) reduced menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings in a trial of 83 women. It also improved low levels of sex hormones (estradiol and progesterone) .
Also, menoprogren prevents hypogonadism in menopausal rats by protecting ovarian follicles [72, 73, 74, 75].
In a clinical trial in 20 women, applying a mixture of hawthorn and ginseng extracts to the eyelids reduced wrinkles and increased skin elasticity, hydration, and radiance .
Ultraviolet rays reduce the collagen content of the skin and accelerate aging. Hawthorn extract increased collagen in UV-exposed mice and skin cells