Hawthorn Berries For Hypertension – 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
These nutrient-rich berries have a tart, tangy taste and mild sweetness. Their color varies from yellow to dark red (
Hawthorn Berries For Hypertension
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 CE.
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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 certain foods. Their levels may also be higher if you are exposed 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 (
Although preliminary studies in animals and cells are promising, more studies in humans are needed to evaluate the effects of hawthorn berries on disease risk.
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Summary Hawthorn berries contain plant polyphenols with antioxidant properties that have been linked to many health benefits.
Studies have found that chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers.
In a study conducted on mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds, leading to reduced liver inflammation and damage.
In one study, researchers gave vitexin, a compound found in hawthorn leaves, to mice with respiratory problems. This treatment reduced the production of molecules that trigger inflammation and reduced the response of white blood cells to inflammation (
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These promising results in animal studies and test tubes indicate 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 tube and animal studies. However, human studies are needed.
In traditional Chinese medicine, hawthorn is one of the most commonly recommended foods for treating 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 researchers found that those who took 500 mg of the extract per day had a reduction in diastolic blood pressure – the bottom number in the blood pressure reading.
In a 2006 study, researchers gave 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract daily for 16 weeks to 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. People who took the extract improved their blood pressure more than the placebo group (
However, more research is needed to support these findings. It is also important to note that using the extract is not the same as eating the berries.
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Summary Some research suggests that hawthorn may lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. However, further research is needed.
Some studies show that hawthorn extract can improve blood cholesterol levels due to its flavonoids and pectin content. Pectin is a type of fiber that is 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 build up, it can completely block a blood vessel, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
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In one animal study, mice that received two doses of hawthorn extract had lower levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and 28-47% lower levels of liver triglycerides compared to mice that did not receive the extract (
Similarly, a 6-week study in rats showed that when rats were fed hawthorn supplements, they had significant reductions in fasting triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Finally, a 6-month study of 64 people with atherosclerosis found that taking hawthorn extract at a dose of 2.3 mg per pound (5 mg/kg) of body weight significantly reduced the thickness of harmful plaque in the carotid artery.
Although this study 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 studies are needed.
For centuries, people have used hawthorn berries and extract to treat digestive problems, especially indigestion and stomach pain.
Berries contain fiber that has been proven to aid digestion, reduce constipation and act as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods that feed and promote healthy gut bacteria that are important for maintaining healthy digestion (
One observational study in people with slow digestion found that each additional gram of fiber people consumed was associated with a 30-minute reduction in the time between bowel movements.
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In addition, a study in rats observed that hawthorn extract dramatically reduced the intestinal transit time of food in the digestive system (
In addition, studies in rodents show that compounds in hawthorn berries can increase the production and activity of digestive enzymes, namely those needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods.
Summary People have used hawthorn berries as a digestive aid for centuries. It can help relieve constipation and increase the production of enzymes needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods.
Hawthorn berries can help prevent premature aging of the skin caused by the breakdown of collagen due to excess sun or ultraviolet radiation.
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One test-tube study found that a mixture of hawthorn and ginseng extract can prevent 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 berries. 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 due to their antioxidant content.
In one older study of 264 people with anxiety disorders, a combination of hawthorn extract, magnesium, and California poppy significantly reduced anxiety levels compared to a placebo. However, it is unclear what specific role hawthorn played (
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Hawthorn appears to have few side effects compared to traditional anti-anxiety medications. This is one reason why researchers continue to study it as a potential treatment for central nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression.
However, these studies have used different types of hawthorn products, not necessarily berries specifically. More research is needed.
If you want to try a hawthorn supplement to help with your anxiety, don’t stop your current medication and be sure to discuss it with a healthcare professional to make sure it’s safe for you.
Summary Researchers are investigating hawthorn supplements as a potential treatment for anxiety. However, there is currently not much research on them for this purpose. More research is needed on the effects of hawthorn on anxiety.
Hawthorn Herb Benefits
Hawthorn is best known for its use in a traditional context 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 shown that hawthorn may have beneficial effects in people with heart failure without serious side effects.
Studies mostly show improvement in heart function and symptoms of heart failure, such as shortness of breath and fatigue.
However, some evidence has shown that hawthorn may be harmful in certain cases of heart failure. One study found that taking it along with conventional treatments increased the risk of heart failure progression.
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Summary In some traditional medicines, people usually take hawthorn along with other traditional medicines for heart failure. However, it can be harmful when combined with conventional 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 berries along with the leaves and flowers, although some contain only the leaves and flowers.
Different brands and forms of hawthorn supplements have different dosage recommendations. Usual doses are 250 to 500 mg three times a day. However, studies have 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 less stringently than over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
Look for products that have been approved by independent organizations that evaluate the effectiveness and quality of dietary supplements, such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Summary Hawthorn berries can be eaten in many ways or taken as a dietary supplement. However, appropriate doses have yet to be defined and more research is needed.
There are not many reported side effects from taking hawthorn. Those that do exist seem to range from mild to moderate.
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The most common ones people have reported are sweating, headaches, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, agitation, and gastrointestinal effects (
Although they are not life-threatening, be sure to consult a healthcare professional if you experience any of these symptoms.
Summary Side effects from consuming hawthorn berries tend to be mild. These often include sweating, headaches, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, agitation, and gastrointestinal effects.
The use of medicinal plants as alternative treatments for various diseases has become more and more common