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Hawthorn Berries And Losartan
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Hawthorn is the oldest medicinal herb in Europe. Its flowers, leaves and berries are highly valued, especially as medicines for heart diseases. This herb may provide additional benefits for people with high cholesterol, diabetes, and anxiety. Read on to learn more about hawthorn and how to use it safely.
Hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) are spiny trees or shrubs 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 its relatives (Rhaphiolepis) [1+].
Hawthorns are native to Europe, North America and Asia. They belong to the same family as roses and many edible fruits such as apples, pears, plums and cherries (Rosaceae) .
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Hawthorn is the oldest known medicinal plant in Europe and its use was first recorded 2000 years ago. It is used in European and American folk medicine [3+, 4+, 2]:
The German Commission E approved the use of hawthorn in mild heart failure in the 1980s. Hawthorn extracts are 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 berries, leaves and flowers. Berries must contain at least 1% procyanidins, and leaves and flowers must contain at least 1.5% flavonoids [1+].
In China, only the berries and leaves are used. There are no requirements for berries, but the leaves must contain at least 7% flavonoids and 0.05% hyperoside [1+].
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Berries are also eaten fresh or used to make wine, jams, candies both in China and Europe [1+].
Flavonoids are mainly concentrated in the flowers. They are also abundant in berries, but less in ripe ones. The leaves contain more vitexin and oligomeric proanthocyanidins [10, 11+].
Although not FDA approved, hawthorn extract is marketed as a supplement, especially for heart disease. Regulations set manufacturing standards but do not guarantee that they are safe or effective. Check with your doctor before using hawthorn to avoid unexpected interactions.
Although conventional treatments improve symptoms and reduce mortality, the quality of life of people with heart failure is often reduced. Hawthorn can be combined with drugs and implantable devices to improve heart failure .
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Hawthorn extract (240-1,800 mg per day), both alone and as an adjunctive treatment, improves mild heart failure according to two meta-analyses and 8 studies involving more than 4,000 people. people. This increased suction power and reduced fatigue and dyspnea [12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21].
However, the extract did not improve symptoms of heart failure in 2 studies involving nearly 3,000 people. people who have also taken conventional medicines; it only reduced the risk of sudden death. However, the doses may have been insufficient because most of the subjects enrolled had moderate to severe heart failure [22, 23].
Homeopathic remedies for hawthorn are also used, although they may not contain the active compounds. In one study of more than 200 people, homeopathic hawthorn (10-20 drops, 3 times a day) was as effective as conventional medicines. However, the study had many shortcomings (lack of randomization and blinding, assessment of subjective parameters, and short follow-up) [24+].
In people with heart failure, the blood in the leg veins can clot and cause swelling. In two studies involving more than 1,000 hawthorn extract (900 mg/day) reduced leg swelling in people with heart failure [14, 15].
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In mice and cells, the extract reduced blood leakage from blood vessels by strengthening their inner lining [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 in rats and relaxed arteries in tissue studies [31, 32, 33, 34, 35].
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Orthostatic hypotension (literally, “low pressure when standing upright”) is a condition that causes a sudden drop in blood pressure when you stand up quickly.
In Germany, a combination of hawthorn berries and camphor is commonly used to raise blood pressure in people who often suffer from orthostatic hypotension. This remedy (5-80 drops per day) worked in 6 clinical trials involving more than 500 people, but its rapid onset of 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 problems, including heart failure and high blood pressure. It can be safely added to conventional medications and interventions. However, it is likely to be ineffective short-term or as a stand-alone drug in people with more severe heart disease.
However, note that the FDA has not approved hawthorn for heart disease. You can try this herb if you and your doctor decide it might be good for arthritis. Remember that hawthorn should never be taken in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.
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Poor blood and oxygen supply to the heart can be caused by a blockage in the blood vessels that supply the heart (coronary arteries). This eventually leads to chest pain or angina [42+].
Cholesterol buildup in the arteries is the most common cause of chest pain. In a clinical trial involving 80 people with chest pain, hawthorn extract (240 mg, twice daily) combined with exercise prevented arterial occlusion .
In a Chinese clinical trial involving 46 people, hawthorn tablets reduced chest pain. However, we were unable to access the specifics of the study to analyze it [44+].
In animals and cells, hawthorn extract protected against high blood cholesterol, inflammation, free radical damage to LDL, and thickening of arterial walls, all of which increase the risk of clogging [ 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 , 49 , 50 ].
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Coronary arteries can also be blocked by blood clots. Although hawthorn extract prevented platelet aggregation in animals and in vitro, a high dose (2,400 mg/day) was ineffective in a study in 16 people [51, 52, 53, 54, 55+].
Surgery to unclog blood vessels can damage their inner walls, causing narrowing of the blood vessels. In rats, hawthorn extract prevented this adverse effect .
In a study involving 49 people, hawthorn extract (400 mg, 3 times a day) reduced blood cholesterol, both free and LDL-bound. Similarly, 129 mg of a complex of hawthorn and other herbs (Asiatic water plantain, corn silk, Chinese reinforced concrete, lingzhi mushroom and mulberry) reduced LDL cholesterol in a study of 42 people (4 capsules, twice daily) [57, 58] .
Overall, the available evidence is insufficient to suggest that hawthorn lowers blood cholesterol. Further clinical studies are needed to confirm these preliminary findings.
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In a clinical trial involving more than 250 people with anxiety disorders, a preparation with hawthorn, California poppy and magnesium (2 tablets, 2 times a day) reduced anxiety. Similarly, a preparation with hawthorn and other herbs (purple passionflower, valerian, black cohosh, guarana and kola nut) was effective in almost 200 people (2 tablets, 3 times a day) [63, 64].
However, many of the natural compounds used in the above formulations have anti-anxiety properties. It is difficult to say whether hawthorn contributed to the benefits.
Chronic stress and depression are closely related. Different extracts containing quinine, but not common hawthorn, reduced depression in stressed mice [67, 68, 69, 70].
Two clinical studies using hawthorn as part of herbal mixtures and several animal studies cannot be considered sufficient evidence. Additional clinical trials examining hawthorn alone should be conducted to determine whether it has anti-anxiety effects in humans.
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Traditional Chinese medicine with extracts of hawthorn, goji berry, safflower, kombu, and mulberry (Menoprogren, 4 times daily) reduced menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings in a study of 83 women. It also improved low levels of sex hormones (estradiol and progesterone) .
Menoprogren also prevented the fall in sex hormones in menopausal rats by protecting their ovarian follicles [72, 73, 74, 75].
In a clinical trial involving 20 women, a mixture of hawthorn and ginseng extracts on the eyelids reduced wrinkles while increasing skin elasticity, moisture, and radiance .
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