California And Hawthorn Berries – Written by Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA and SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD — Medically reviewed by Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE, Nutrition — Updated December 13, 2021
Nutrient-rich berries have a tart, tangy flavor and mild sweetness. They range in color from yellow to dark red (
California And Hawthorn Berries
For hundreds of years, people have used the hawthorn berry as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart issues, and high blood pressure. In fact, the berry has been an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine since at least 659 A.D. (
Hawthorn: Benefits, Side Effects, And Preparations
Antioxidants help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can harm your body when they are present in high levels.
Free radicals can come from certain foods. You may also have higher levels of them 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 preliminary research in animals and cells is promising, more human studies are needed to assess the effects of hawthorn berries 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 the level of inflammatory compounds, leading to reduced inflammation and liver damage (
In one study, researchers administered vitexin – a compound present in hawthorn leaves – to rats with respiratory conditions. This treatment reduces the production of molecules that trigger inflammation and reduces the response of white blood cells to inflammation (
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Good results from animal and test-tube studies suggest that the supplement may offer anti-inflammatory benefits for humans. However, more research is needed.
Summary Hawthorn berry extract has shown anti-inflammatory potential in test-tube and animal studies. However, research in humans is needed.
In traditional Chinese medicine, hawthorn berry 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 relaxes constricted blood vessels, ultimately lowering blood pressure (
Impressive Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berry
A 10-week study looked at the effects of taking hawthorn extract in 36 people with mildly elevated blood pressure.
Researchers found that those who took 500 mg of the extract daily lowered diastolic blood pressure — the lowest number of blood pressure readings (
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. People who took the extract experienced more improvement in blood pressure than those in the placebo group (
However, more studies are needed to back up these findings. It is also important to note that consuming a juice is not the same as eating berries.
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Summary Some research suggests that hawthorn berries may lower blood pressure by helping to widen blood vessels. However, further 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 levels of cholesterol in the blood — 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 build up, it can completely block a blood vessel, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Hawthorn (crataegus Oxycantha)
In an animal study, rats 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 those who did not. mice that did not receive the extract (
Similarly, a 6-week study in rats showed that when the rats were fed hawthorn berry supplements, they significantly reduced 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 the harmful plaque buildup in the carotid artery (
Although this research is promising, more human studies are needed to assess the effect of hawthorn extract on blood cholesterol.
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Summary Animal and human research suggests that taking hawthorn extract may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, more human research is needed.
People have used hawthorn berries and extracts for centuries to treat digestive issues, especially indigestion and stomach pain (
Berries contain fiber, which has been shown to aid digestion by reducing constipation and acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods that nourish and promote healthy gut bacteria, which are important for 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 time between bowel movements (
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Additionally, a rat study found that hawthorn extract significantly reduced the gut transit time of food in the digestive system (
Furthermore, research in rodents suggests that compounds in hawthorn berries can enhance the production and activity of digestive enzymes – especially those needed for digesting fatty and protein-rich foods (
Summary People have used the hawthorn berry as a digestive aid for centuries. It can help relieve constipation and enhance the production of enzymes needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods.
Hawthorn berries may help prevent premature aging of the skin caused by the breakdown of collagen due to overexposure to the sun or ultraviolet light.
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A test-tube study found that a mixture of hawthorn and ginseng extracts can 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. However, research in this area is limited, and human studies are needed.
Summary Some research suggests that hawthorn berries may help reduce the signs of aging as a result of their antioxidant content.
In an older study of 264 people with anxiety, a combination of hawthorn extract, magnesium, and California poppy flower significantly reduced anxiety levels compared to a placebo. However, it is unclear what specific role hawthorn plays (
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Hawthorn appears to have fewer side effects compared to traditional anti-anxiety medications. That’s one reason scientists continue to research it as a potential treatment for central nervous system disorders like anxiety and depression (
However, these studies used different types of hawthorn products, not necessarily the specific berry. More research is needed.
If you want to try a hawthorn supplement to manage your anxiety, don’t stop using your current medications, and be sure to discuss it with a health care professional ahead of time to make sure it’s safe for you.
Summary Scientists are investigating hawthorn supplements as a potential treatment for anxiety. However, so far there is not much research on them for this purpose. More studies of the effects of hawthorn berry on anxiety are needed.
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The hawthorn berry is known for its use in traditional contexts in the treatment of heart failure, along with other traditional medicines. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump blood properly.
Several studies have suggested that hawthorn berry may have beneficial effects without serious adverse effects in people with heart failure (
Most studies show improvements in heart function and symptoms of heart failure — such as shortness of breath and fatigue (
However, some evidence has suggested that hawthorn may be harmful in some cases of heart failure. One study found that taking it along with traditional treatments increased the risk that heart failure would develop (
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Summary In some traditional medicine practices, people commonly take hawthorn berry along with other traditional medicines for heart failure. However, it may be harmful when combined with common 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 contain the berry along with the leaves and flowers, although some include just the leaves and flowers.
Different brands and forms of hawthorn supplements have different dosing recommendations. Common doses are 250-500 mg three times daily. However, research has yet to determine the optimal effective dose (
Hawthorn Berry Extract
Note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements like hawthorn under a less stringent set of regulations than over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
Look for products that have received a seal of approval from independent organizations that assess supplement effectiveness and quality, such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Summary You can eat hawthorn berries in many ways or take them as a supplement. However, appropriate doses are still undetermined and more research is needed.
Few 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 by people are sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, anxiety, and gastrointestinal effects (
Although these are not life-threatening events, be sure to talk to a health care professional if you experience any of these symptoms.
Summary Side effects from consuming hawthorn berries tend to be mild. These often include sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, anxiety, and gastrointestinal effects.
The use of medicinal plants as an alternative treatment for certain diseases is increasing