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Hawthorn Berries+erectile Dysfunction
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Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to peer-reviewed scientific studies. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc…]” means that the information is found in the full scientific study rather than the abstract.
Hawthorn is the oldest European medicinal plant. Its flowers, leaves and berries are highly valued, especially as remedies for heart diseases. This plant can offer additional benefits to people with high cholesterol, diabetes and anxiety. Read on to find out more about Hawthorn and how to use it safely.
Hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) are thorny trees or shrubs with white flowers and red fruits. Although the name “Hawthorn” originally referred to the common hawthorn (C. monogyna), it is now used for the whole genus and also for 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 documented 2,000 years ago. In European and American folk medicine, it is used for [3+, 4+, 2]:
The German Commission E approved the use of hawthorn for mild heart failure in the 1980s. Hawthorn extracts are mainly obtained from the common and English hawthorn (C. laevigata), its hybrids and other European species [3+].
The extracts used in Europe and America are obtained from the berries, leaves and flowers. The berries must contain at least 1% procyanidins, while the leaves and flowers require a minimum flavonoid content of 1.5% [1+].
In China, only the berries and leaves are used. There is no requirement for berries, but leaves must contain at least 7% flavonoids and 0.05% hyperoside [1+].
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The berries are also eaten fresh or used to make wine, jam and sweets in China and Europe [1+].
Flavonoids are more concentrated in flowers. Berries are also rich in them, but less ripe. The leaves are higher in vitexin and oligomeric proanthocyanidins [10, 11+].
Although not FDA approved, hawthorn extract is commercially available as a supplement, particularly for heart disease. The regulations set manufacturing standards, but do not guarantee that they are safe or effective. Talk to your doctor before using hawthorn to avoid unexpected interactions.
Although conventional therapies improve symptoms and reduce death rates, people with heart failure often have a reduced quality of life. Hawthorn can be combined with drugs and implantable devices to improve heart failure .
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Hawthorn extract (240-1, 800 mg/day), alone and as an add-on therapy, improves mild heart failure according to two meta-analyses and 8 studies on more than 4k people. It increases pumping power while reducing fatigue and shortness of breath [12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21].
However, the extract did not improve heart failure symptoms in 2 studies on nearly 3k people who were also taking conventional medicines; it only reduces the risk of sudden death. The dose could be insufficient, however, since most of the included people had moderate to severe heart failure [22, 23].
Homeopathic remedies are also used, although they may not contain active compounds. In a trial on more than 200 people, homeopathy (10-20 drops, 3x/day) was as effective as conventional drugs. However, the study suffered from several shortcomings (lack of randomization and blinding, assessment of subjective parameters, and short follow-up) [24+].
Venous blood can stagnate in the legs in people with heart failure, leading to swelling. In 2 studies on more than 1,000 people with heart failure, hawthorn extract (900 mg/day) reduced leg swelling [14, 15].
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In mice and cells, the extract reduced blood leakage from vessels by strengthening their inner lining [25, 26].
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Blood pressure is the most important risk factor for heart disease. Hawthorn extract (500-1, 200 mg/day) lowered blood pressure in 4 clinical trials on nearly 300 people [27+, 28, 29, 30, 18].
The extract also decreased blood pressure in rats and relaxed arteries in tissue studies [31, 32, 33, 34, 35].
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Orthostatic hypotension (literally, “low vertical pressure”) is a condition that causes a sudden drop in blood pressure after standing 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/day) worked in 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 problems, including heart failure and high blood pressure. It can be safely added to conventional drugs and interventions. However, it is probably ineffective used in the short term or as a stand-alone in people with more severe heart conditions.
However, note that hawthorn is not approved by the FDA for heart disease. You can try this herb if your doctor determines that it might be appropriate to improve your arthritis. Remember that taking hawthorn should never be done instead of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.
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Poor heart blood and oxygen supply can be caused by clogs in the blood vessels that feed the heart (coronary arteries). This ultimately causes chest pain or angina [42+].
The accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries is the most common cause of chest pain. In a clinical trial on 80 people with chest pain, hawthorn extract (240 mg, 2x/day) combined with exercise prevented artery obstruction .
Hawthorn tablets relieve chest pain in a Chinese clinical trial on 46 people. However, we could not access the study specifications to analyze [44+].
In animals and cells, hawthorn extract prevented blood cholesterol, inflammation, LDL damage from free radicals, and thickening of the artery wall, which increase the risk of obstruction [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 test tubes, a high dose (2,400 mg/day) was ineffective in a test on 16 people [51, 52, 53 , 54, 55+].
Surgery to unclog the vessels can damage their inner walls, which causes a narrowing of the vessels. In rats, hawthorn extract prevents this undesirable effect .
In a trial on 49 people, hawthorn extract (400 mg, 3x/day) reduced blood cholesterol, both free and linked to LDL. Similarly, a complex with 129 mg of hawthorn and other herbs (Asian water plant, wheat silk, Chinese knotweed, lingzhi mushroom and mulberry) reduced LDL cholesterol in a test on 42 people (4 capsules, 2x / day) [57, 58] .
All in all, the existing evidence is insufficient to affirm that hawthorn reduces blood cholesterol. More clinical research is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.
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In a clinical trial on more than 250 people with anxiety disorders, a formulation with hawthorn, California poppy and magnesium (2 tablets, 2x/day) reduced anxiety. Similarly, a formulation with hawthorn and other herbs (purple passionflower, valerian, black horehound, guarana and cola nut) was effective in a trial on almost 200 people (2 tablets, 3x/day) [63, 64 ].
However, many of the natural compounds used in the formulations mentioned above have anti-anxiety properties. It is difficult to say whether the abruzzo contributed to the benefits.
Chronic stress and depression are closely related. Various extracts with Chinese hawthorn, but not common, reduce depression in stressed mice [67, 68, 69, 70].
Two clinical studies using hawthorn as part of herbal mixtures and a few animal studies cannot be considered sufficient evidence. Additional clinical trials that test hawthorn only need to be carried out to find out if it has anti-anxiety effects in humans.
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A traditional Chinese medicine with extracts of hawthorn, goji berry, safflower, kombu and mulberry (Menoprogren, 4x/day) reduced menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings in a trial on to 83 women. It also improved the low levels of sex hormones (estradiol and progesterone) .
Menoprogren also prevented the drop of sex hormones in menopausal rats by protecting their ovarian follicles [72, 73, 74, 75].
In a clinical trial on 20 women, a mixture of hawthorn and ginseng extracts on the eyelids reduced wrinkles while increasing skin elasticity, moisture and brightness .
UV radiation accelerates skin aging by reducing its collagen content. In mice exposed to UV rays and skin cells, hawthorn extract increased collagen
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