Hawthorn Berries Heart Health – Written by Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA and SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD – Reviewed by Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE, Nutrition – Updated on December 13, 2021
These rich berries have a tart, tangy taste and mild sweetness. They vary in color from yellow to dark red (
Hawthorn Berries Heart Health
For centuries, people have used the hawthorn berry as a herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart problems, and high blood pressure. In fact, the berry has been an important part of traditional Chinese medicine since 659 A.D. (
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Antioxidants help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can harm your body when present at high levels.
Free radicals can come from certain foods. You can also have high levels of them as a result of exposure to environmental toxins such as air pollution and cigarette smoke (
Polyphenols are associated with a number of health benefits due to their antioxidant activity, including a low risk of (
Although preliminary research in animals and cells is promising, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effect of hawthorn berries on the risk of disease.
Does Hawthorn Lower Blood Pressure?
Summary Hawthorn berry contains plant polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties linked to many health benefits.
Research has found that chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and some cancers (
In a study in mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry significantly reduced levels of inflammatory chemicals, leading to a reduction in liver inflammation and damage (
In one study, researchers gave vitexin – a compound found in hawthorn leaves – to rats with respiratory conditions. This treatment reduced the production of molecules that cause inflammation and decreased the response of white blood cells to inflammation (
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These promising results from animal and test-tube studies show that the supplement can provide anti-inflammatory benefits to humans. However, more research is needed.
Summary Hawthorn berry extract has shown anti-inflammatory ability in test-tube and animal studies. However, research in humans is needed.
In traditional Chinese medicine, hawthorn berry is one of the foods that is often recommended to help treat high blood pressure.
Animal studies show that hawthorn can act as a vasodilator, meaning it can relax blood vessels, ultimately reducing low blood pressure (
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A 10-week study looked at the effects of hawthorn extract taken in 36 people with mildly elevated blood pressure.
The researchers found that those who took 500 mg of the extract daily had reduced diastolic blood pressure – the lowest number of blood pressure readings (
In a 2006 study, researchers gave 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract to 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure every day for 16 weeks. People who took the pill experienced better blood pressure than those in the placebo group (
However, more studies are needed to support these findings. It is also important to note that using a supplement is not the same as eating fruit.
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Summary Some research shows that hawthorn berries can lower blood pressure by helping to reduce blood clots. However, some studies are needed.
Some studies show that hawthorn extract can improve blood cholesterol levels due to its flavonoids and pectin. Pectin is a type of fiber involved in cholesterol metabolism (
Imbalanced blood cholesterol levels — especially high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol — play a role in atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in your blood vessels (
If plaque continues to grow, it can completely block a blood vessel, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
How Healthy Is Hawthorn?
In one animal study, mice that received two doses of hawthorn extract had lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as 28-47% lower liver triglyceride levels, compared to mice that did not receive the extract (
Similarly, a 6-week study in rats showed that when the rats were fed hawthorn berry supplements, they had significantly reduced levels of fasting triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol (
Finally, a six-month study in 62 people with atherosclerosis found that taking hawthorn taken at a dose of 2.3 mg per pound (5 mg per kg) of body weight significantly reduced the thickness of damaging plaque buildup in the carotid artery.
Although this research is promising, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effects of hawthorn extract on blood cholesterol.
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Summary Research in animals and humans shows that taking hawthorn extract can help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, more human research is needed.
People have used hawthorn berries and extract for centuries to treat digestive issues, especially indigestion and stomach pain (
The berries contain fiber, which has been shown to aid digestion by reducing constipation and act as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are nutrients that build and promote the health of the intestinal tract, which is important for maintaining good digestion (
One observational study in people with poor digestion found that each additional gram of dietary fiber people ate was associated with a 30-minute decrease in the time between bowel movements.
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In addition, a rat study found that hawthorn extract significantly reduced the gut transit time of food in the diet.
Furthermore, research in rats shows that the compounds in hawthorn berries can enhance the production and activity of digestive enzymes – which are necessary for the digestion of fat and protein-rich foods.
Summary People have used hawthorn berry as a digestive aid for centuries. It can help relieve constipation and increase the production of enzymes needed to digest fat and protein-rich foods.
Hawthorn berries can help prevent premature skin aging caused by collagen degradation due to excessive sun exposure or ultraviolet light.
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A test-tube study found that a combination of hawthorn and ginseng extract can prevent signs of aging by preventing wrinkle formation and increasing skin moisture.
Research suggests that this effect may be due to the hawthorn berry’s antioxidant content. However, research in this area is limited, and human studies are needed.
Summary Some research shows that hawthorn berries can help reduce the signs of aging as a result of their antioxidant properties.
In a previous study in 264 people with anxiety, a combination of hawthorn extract, magnesium, and California poppy flower significantly reduced anxiety levels compared to a placebo. However, it is not known what role hawthorn played (
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Hawthorn appears to have fewer side effects compared to traditional anti-anxiety medications. That’s one reason scientists continue to research it as a potential treatment for central nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression (
However, these studies used different types of hawthorn products, not especially the berry. More research is needed.
If you want to try adding hawthorn to control your anxiety, don’t stop using your current medications, and be sure to discuss it with your health care provider beforehand to make sure it’s safe for you.
Summary Scientists are investigating hawthorn supplements as a potential treatment for anxiety. However, currently there is not much research on them for this purpose. More studies of the effects of hawthorn berry on anxiety are needed.
Hawthorn (crataegus Oxycantha)
Hawthorn berry is best known for its traditional use in the treatment of heart failure, as well as other folk remedies. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump blood properly.
Many studies have shown that hawthorn berry can have beneficial effects without serious harm to people with heart disorders (
Studies mainly show improvement in heart function and symptoms of heart failure – such as shortness of breath and fatigue (
However, some evidence has shown that hawthorn can be harmful in some cases of heart failure. One study found that taking it along with common medications increased the risk of heart failure progressing (
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Summary In some traditional medicine practices, people often take hawthorn berry along with other traditional medicines for heart failure. However, they can be harmful when combined with common heart failure medications.
Hawthorn berries can be difficult to find in your local grocery store. However, you can find them at farmers markets and health food stores.
Hawthorn berry grows usually contain the berry along with the leaves and flowers, although some include just the leaves and flowers.
Different types and forms of hawthorn supplements have different dosing recommendations. Common dosages are 250-500 mg three times a day. However, research has not yet determined the optimal effective dose (
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Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements like hawthorn under a less stringent set of regulations than over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
Look for products that have received a seal of approval from independent organizations that evaluate supplement performance and quality, such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Summary You can eat hawthorn berries in many ways or take them as a supplement. However, optimal doses have not yet been defined and further research is needed.
Not many side effects have been reported from taking hawthorn berries. Those available seem to range from mild to moderate.
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The most commonly reported symptoms are sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, lightheadedness, restlessness, and gastrointestinal effects (
While these are not life-threatening events, be sure to talk to a healthcare professional if you experience any of these symptoms.
Summary Side effects from eating hawthorn berries are usually mild. They often include sweating, headaches, sleepiness, fainting, lightheadedness, agitation, and leg cramps.
The use of herbal medicines as alternative treatments for many diseases has increased