Hawthorn Berries Health Benefits – Hawthorn is often called the “heart herb” for its many cardio protective abilities. Prized for its ability to lift the mind and strengthen the mind emotionally and physically, hawthorn berry has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for all kinds of serious heart concerns. These include angina, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, irregular heartbeat and even congestive heart failure.
In fact, hawthorn has been used to treat heart disease since the first century! Fast forward to the early 1800s and doctors in America were using this herb for respiratory and circulatory health disorders as well. (1)
Hawthorn Berries Health Benefits
Hawthorn berries, leaves and flowers are used medicinally today. Hawthorn fruits are in the form of small red fruits. Native American tribes enjoyed eating them and also used hawthorn to treat heart problems, and stomach complaints. (2)
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What makes hawthorn berries medicinal? It seems to be a lot of flavonoids for starters. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants known to effectively reduce inflammation while boosting immune function. A diet high in flavonoid-rich foods, beverages and herbs has been linked to the prevention of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases such as cancer. (3)
Let’s take a closer look at exactly how a small hawthorn tree can truly make big improvements in the health of many people.
The hawthorn bush, also called the thorn or May-tree, is a delicate plant. It is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae) belonging to the 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 the sides of sunny hillsides. There are several species of hawthorn, many of which are native to North America. (4)
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A hawthorn plant has fruits as well as flowers that bloom in May. Hawthorn flowers are red, pink or white. Small hawthorn fruits appear after the flowers bloom. When the hawthorn fruits are fully ripe, they are usually red in color, but sometimes they are black. These berries are edible. How do they taste? Many people describe hawthorn berries as a mixture of sweet and sour.
The hawthorn herb is loaded with health benefit compounds. These combinations have been shown to really boost heart health. Hawthorn’s antioxidant flavonoids increase blood flow, protect against blood vessel damage, and even help dilate blood vessels. (5)
These flavonoids include OPCs. What are OPCs? OPC stands for oligomeric proanthocyanidins. OPCs are some of the most common polyphenolic compounds found in plants. (6)
Hawthorn berry is best known for its toning effects that help on the heart. As a “cardiotonic herb,” hawthorn has proven itself to be a wonderful aid for all kinds of serious heart concerns. These include heart failure, heart disease, angina pectoris, changes in heart rhythm, and atherosclerosis. According to a 2016 study published in the journal
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To date, research has shown that hawthorn can even have a beneficial effect on congestive heart failure (CHF). Numerous studies have shown that hawthorn supplementation improves heart function in a number of ways. These parameters include blood pressure, heart rate, cardiac output and exercise tolerance.
A specific study for 78 patients with heart failure NYHA Class II in a commercial preparation of hawthorn leaves and flowers. After two months, patients who received 200 mg of hawthorn three times a day had a functioning heart, as well as a reduction in symptoms. The hawthorn group also showed a reduction in systolic blood pressure during physical activity. Another German study also showed that a hawthorn extract (LI132 Faros®) worked almost as well as the heart failure drug (captopril). And, hawthorn extract has few side effects. (9)
) out specifically either alone or as an adjunct to conventional treatment. After two years, fatigue, stress dyspnoea and palpitations (the three main symptoms of heart failure) were significantly reduced in the group that took hawthorn compared to the group that did not take hawthorn. (10)
Many herbalists recommend hawthorn berries, flowers and leaves as natural blood pressure reducers. Scientific research published in
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In patients with type 2 diabetes 79 either took 1200 mg of hawthorn extract daily or a placebo for a total of 16 weeks. Hypotensive drugs were also taken by 71 percent of the study participants.
What did they see? The hawthorn group experienced a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure. However, there were no group differences in systolic blood pressure reduction. (11) Hopefully more studies to support the use of hawthorn in lowering blood pressure are coming soon.
Decreased blood flow to the heart causes chest pain known as angina. Sometimes it is confused with malnutrition. However, true angina can be a symptom of coronary artery disease. So far, research shows that hawthorn can be an effective natural remedy for preventing and treating angina.
, hawthorn’s bioflavonoids help to dilate both circulatory and coronary blood vessels. This can increase blood flow to the heart, making hawthorn very useful for angina. The proanthocyanidins of Hawthorn are also believed to reduce the tension of blood vessel walls. Again, this is very helpful in relieving 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 is the aerobic exercise group. The second group brought out a hawthorn. The third group did aerobic exercise, with them taking out a hawthorn. Finally, the fourth group is the control group. After 12 weeks, the researchers found that the combination of aerobic exercise and hawthorn supplementation was “an effective strategy to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and heart problems.” (13)
Animal studies have shown that hawthorn berry extract can be a natural remedy that helps reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from the body. In China, hawthorn is called “Shan-Zha.” A study using animal subjects showed some very interesting health results from an ethanol extract of Zhongtian hawthorn, a cultivar of a wild Shan-Zha, which has large hawthorn fruit.
This 2016 study revealed that hawthorn berry extract not only reduced total high cholesterol levels, it also significantly reduced LDL cholesterol, liver cholesterol and triglycerides as well as body weight. (14)
A scientific study conducted in 2008 revealed that hawthorn berry extract is excellent in reducing inflammation. This is huge for health since we know that inflammation is at the root of many diseases.
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The study also showed that hawthorn berry extract is a free radical scavenger. This is very beneficial for human health since free radicals can cause cellular damage (including DNA damage) by stealing electrons through a process called oxidation.
A 2008 animal study also showed how hawthorn berry extract has protective effects for the gastrointestinal system and appears to successfully kill many types of unwanted bacteria. (15)
How to incorporate hawthorn berries into your life? There are a few options. You can opt for hawthorn berry tea, either packaged or loose. Loose hawthorn berries can often be purchased in the bulk section of most health food stores. You can also take a hawthorn supplement in capsule form or hawthorn extract in liquid tincture form.
Therefore, safe doses of hawthorn appear to be between 160 to 1,800 mg per day for a period of 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. Supplementation with hawthorn is recommended for short-term use by adults. If any symptoms worsen while taking hawthorn, you should stop using it and seek emergency medical care.
For some users, hawthorn can cause nausea, indigestion, fatigue, sweating, headache, dizziness, palpitations, nosebleeds, insomnia, nausea and other side effects.
While hawthorn is known for being excellent for the heart, it can interact with medications taken for heart disease. Medications for other heart concerns, high blood pressure and male sexual dysfunction are also known to interact with hawthorn. Some specific medications known to 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 currently using medication(s), check with your doctor before taking hawthorn berry products 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-medicate with hawthorn supplements if you suffer from this condition.
Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berries
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