Chinese Hawthorn Berries Side Effects – Written by Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA and SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD – Medically reviewed by Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE, Nutrition – Updated on December 13, 2021
This nutrient-rich berry has a tart, tangy flavor and mild sweetness. The color varies from yellow to dark red (
Chinese Hawthorn Berries Side Effects
For hundreds of years, people have used hawthorn berries as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart problems, and high blood pressure. In fact, berries have 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 some 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 preliminary studies in animals and cells are promising, more human studies are needed to assess the effects of hawthorn fruit 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.
Researchers have found that chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers.
In a study in mice with liver disease, hawthorn fruit extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds, which led to reduced inflammation and liver injury (
In one study, researchers gave vitexin – a compound found 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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Promising results from animal and test-tube studies suggest that the supplement may offer anti-inflammatory benefits in humans. However, more research is needed.
Summary Hawthorn Berry Extract has shown anti-inflammatory potential in test tubes and animals. 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 can relax narrowed 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 study found that people who took 500 mg of the extract daily had reduced 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 every day for 16 weeks. Those who took the extract experienced a greater increase in blood pressure than those in the placebo group (
Still, more research is needed to back up these findings. It is also important to note that using extracts is not the same as eating berries.
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Summary Some research suggests that hawthorn berries can lower blood pressure by helping to dilate blood vessels. However, further studies are needed.
Several studies have shown 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 — especially 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 form, it can block blood vessels, causing a heart attack or stroke.
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In one 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 rats that did not receive the extract (
Similarly, a 6-week study in rats showed that when rats were fed hawthorn berry supplements, they had significantly reduced fasting triglyceride levels 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 harmful plaque accumulation in the carotid arteries.
Although this research is promising, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effects of hawthorn extract on blood cholesterol.
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Summary Animal and human studies show that taking hawthorn extract can help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, more human research is needed.
People have used hawthorn berries and extracts for centuries to treat digestive problems, especially indigestion and stomach pain (
Berries contain fiber, which has been proven to aid digestion by reducing constipation and being a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods that digest and promote healthy gut bacteria, which are essential for maintaining healthy digestion (
An observational study in people with slow digestion found that every additional gram of dietary fiber people consumed was associated with a 30-minute decrease in the time between bowel movements (
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Additionally, a rat study found that hawthorn extract dramatically reduced the intestinal transit time of food in the digestive system (
Furthermore, research in rodents shows that compounds in hawthorn berries can increase the production and activity of digestive enzymes – which are needed to digest fatty and protein foods (
Summary People have used the hawthorn berry as a digestive aid for centuries. It can help with constipation and increase the production of enzymes needed to digest fatty and protein foods.
Hawthorn berries can help prevent premature skin aging caused by collagen degradation due to excessive exposure to the sun or ultraviolet rays.
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A test tube study found that a mixture of hawthorn extract and ginseng can prevent the signs of aging by inhibiting the formation of wrinkles and increasing skin moisture.
Research suggests that this effect may be due to the antioxidant content of hawthorn fruit. However, research in this area is limited, and human studies are needed.
Summary Some research shows that hawthorn berries can help reduce the signs of aging as a result of their antioxidant content.
In an older study in 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 not clear 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 of the reasons scientists continue to research it as a potential treatment for central nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression (
However, this study has used a variety of hawthorn products, not necessarily a specific berry. More research is needed.
If you want to try a hawthorn supplement to manage your anxiety, don’t stop using your medication now, and be sure to discuss it with a health 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 research on the effects of hawthorn berry on anxiety is needed.
Essential Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berry
Hawthorn berries are best known for their use in a traditional context to treat heart failure, and other traditional remedies. Heart failure is a condition where the heart cannot pump blood properly.
Some studies have suggested hawthorn berry can have beneficial effects without severe adverse effects in people with heart failure.
Most studies show improvement 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 some cases of heart failure. One study found that taking it with conventional medications increased the risk of developing heart failure (
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Summary In some traditional medicine practices, people used to take hawthorn berries and other traditional remedies for heart failure. However, it can be harmful when combined with conventional treatments for heart failure.
Hawthorn berries may be hard to find in your local grocery store. However, you can find them at farmers markets and specialty health food stores.
Hawthorn berry supplements usually contain the berries along with the leaves and flowers, although some include only the leaves and flowers.
Different brands and forms of hawthorn supplements have different dosage recommendations. The usual dose is 250-500 mg three times a day. However, research has yet to determine the optimal effective dose (
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Keep in mind 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 medications.
Look for products that have received approval from independent organizations that evaluate supplement effectiveness and quality, such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Summary You can eat hawthorn berries in a number of ways or take them as a supplement. However, the appropriate dose is still undefined and more research is needed.
There are not many side effects reported from taking hawthorn berries. Those that do exist seem to range from mild to moderate.
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The most common ones people report are sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, agitation, and gastrointestinal effects (
Although this is not a life-threatening event, be sure to talk to a healthcare professional if you experience these symptoms.
Summary Side effects of hawthorn fruit consumption tend to be mild. They often include sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, restlessness, and gastrointestinal effects.
Using herbal medicine as an alternative treatment for some diseases has become more and more