Hawthorn Berries Extract Benefits – Hawthorn is often called the “heart herb” for its cardio-protective abilities. Prized for its ability to lift and strengthen the heart emotionally and physically, hawthorn has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for all types of serious heart concerns. These include angina, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, irregular heartbeats and even congestive heart failure.
In fact, hawthorn has been used to treat heart disease as far back as the first century! Fast forward to the early 1800s and doctors in the United States were using this medicinal herb for respiratory and circulatory health disorders as well. (1)
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Hawthorn fruits, leaves and flowers are currently medicinal. Hawthorn fruit comes in the form of small red berries. Native American tribes loved to eat it and also used hawthorn to treat heart problems, as well as gastrointestinal complaints. (2)
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What makes hawthorn berries so healing? For starters, they are said to be rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that effectively reduce inflammation while boosting immune function. Eating a diet rich in flavonoid-rich foods, beverages, and herbs has been linked to the prevention of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. (3)
Let’s take a closer look at how a small hawthorn berry can improve the health of many people.
Also called hawthorn bush, thorn or may tree, it is a deciduous plant. It is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae) genus
. Hawthorn can come in the form of a thorn bush or a hawthorn tree. Most of the time, you can find hawthorn growing on sunny wooded hillsides. There are several species of hawthorn, many of which are found in North America. (4)
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A hawthorn plant has berries and flowers that bloom in May. Hawthorn flowers are red, pink or white. Small hawthorns appear after the flowers bloom. When fully ripe, hawthorn berries are usually red in color, but sometimes black. These berries are edible. How do they taste? Most people describe hawthorn berries as a mixture of salty and sweet.
Hawthorn herb is full of beneficial health compounds. These compounds have been shown to increase heart health. Hawthorn’s antioxidant flavonoids improve blood flow, protect against blood vessel damage, and help dilate blood vessels. (5)
These flavonoids include OPCs. What are OPCs? OPCs are oligomeric proanthocyanidins. OPCs are some of the main polyphenolic substances found in plants. (6)
Hawthorn berry is known for its helpful tone effects on the heart. As a “cardiotonic herb,” hawthorn has been shown to be incredibly helpful for all types of serious heart concerns. These include heart failure, heart disease, angina pectoris, heart rhythm changes, and atherosclerosis. According to a 2016 study published in the journal
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So far, research has shown that hawthorn may have a beneficial effect on congestive heart failure (CHF). Several studies have shown that hawthorn supplementation has improved cardiac function according to several parameters. These parameters include blood pressure, heart rate, cardiac output and exercise tolerance.
One trial specifically gave 78 patients with NYHA Class II heart failure a commercial preparation of hawthorn leaves and flowers. After two months, patients receiving 200 milligrams of hawthorn three times a day increased their heart’s capacity to work, as well as reducing symptoms. The Hawthorn group also showed a decrease in systolic pressure during physical activity. Another German study also showed that a hawthorn extract (LI132 Faros®) worked almost as well as a heart failure drug (captopril). And hawthorn extract had fewer side effects. (9)
) the special extract alone or as an addition to the usual treatment. After two years, fatigue, stress dyspnea and palpitations (the three main symptoms of heart failure) were significantly reduced in the hawthorn group compared to the group that did not. (10)
Many herbal practitioners recommend hawthorn berries, flowers and leaves as a natural blood pressure reducer. A scientific study published in
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79 type 2 diabetic patients took 1200 milligrams of hawthorn extract daily or a placebo for a total of 16 weeks. Antihypertensive medications were also taken by 71% of study participants.
What did they find? The hawthorn group had greater reductions in diastolic blood pressure. But, there were no group differences in the reduction in systolic blood pressure. (11) We hope that more research to support the use of hawthorn in lowering blood pressure will soon be conducted.
Decreased blood flow to the heart causes chest pain known as angina. It is sometimes confused with indigestion. But, true angina can be a symptom of coronary heart disease. So far, research is showing that hawthorn can be an effective natural remedy for preventing and treating angina.
Hawthorn bioflavonoids help dilate peripheral and coronary blood vessels. This can improve blood flow to the heart, and hawthorn is very useful for angina. Hawthorn proanthocyanidins are thought to reduce the tension in blood vessel walls. Again, this is very helpful in discouraging angina. (12)
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In one study, 80 subjects (aged 45 to 65) with stable angina pectoris were randomly divided into four groups. The first group was the aerobic exercise group. The second group took a piece of hawthorn. The third group did aerobic exercise and also took hawthorn extract. Finally, the fourth group was the control group. After 12 weeks, the researchers found that the combination of aerobic exercise and hawthorn supplementation was “an effective adjunctive strategy for significantly reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart problems.” (13)
Animal studies have shown that hawthorn berry extract can be a helpful natural remedy for lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the body. In China, hawthorn is called “Shan-Zha”. A study using animal subjects has shown truly impressive health results from an ethanol extract of Zhongtian hawthorn, a cultivar of the wild Shan-Zha, which has a larger hawthorn fruit.
This 2016 study revealed that hawthorn berry extract not only reduced overall cholesterol levels, but also significantly reduced LDL cholesterol, liver cholesterol and triglycerides, and body weight. (14)
Scientific studies conducted in 2008 revealed that hawthorn berry extract is excellent for reducing inflammation. This is huge for health because we know that inflammation is at the root of most diseases.
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Research also shows that hawthorn berry extract is a free radical scavenger. This is very beneficial to human health because free radicals can cause cell damage (including DNA damage) by stealing electrons through a process called oxidation.
A 2008 animal study also demonstrated how hawthorn berry extract has protective effects on the digestive system and appears to successfully kill a variety of unwanted bacteria. (15)
How can you incorporate hawthorn berries into your life? There are a few options. You can choose hawthorn berry tea, prepackaged or loose. Loose hawthorn berries can often be purchased in bulk sections of many health food stores. You can also get a hawthorn supplement in capsule form or a hawthorn extract in liquid tincture form.
So far, safe doses of hawthorn appear to be between 160 and 1,800 milligrams per day for three to 24 weeks. Noticeable improvement in symptoms may take six to 12 weeks. (18)
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You should not take hawthorn if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not give hawthorn products to children. It is recommended that adults supplement with hawthorn for short-term use. If symptoms worsen while taking hawthorn, you should stop using it and seek emergency medical attention.
For some users, hawthorn can cause nausea, stomach pain, fatigue, sweating, headache, dizziness, palpitations, nosebleeds, insomnia, agitation, and other side effects.
Although hawthorn is known to be great for the heart, it can interact with prescription drugs taken for heart disease. For other heart concerns, high blood pressure and male sexual dysfunction medications are also known to interact with hawthorn. Some specific drugs that may possibly interact with hawthorn include digoxin, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers (CCBs), nitrates, phenylephrine, and phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors. If you have heart disease or any other health condition or are taking medication(s), consult your doctor before taking a hawthorn berry product or any other hawthorn supplement. (19, 20)
It is also important to note that heart failure is a very serious health condition. It is best not to self-treat with hawthorn supplements if you suffer from this condition.
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