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Hawthorn Berries High Blood Pressure Dosage
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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 herb. The flowers, leaves and trees are highly valued, especially as remedies for heart disease. This plant may offer added benefits to people with high cholesterol, diabetes and anxiety. Read on to discover more about Hawthorn and how to use it safely.
Hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) are spiny trees or shrubs with white flowers and red berries. Although the name “Hawthorn” originally referred to the common hawthorn (C. monogyna), it is now used for the entire genus and even 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 2000 years ago. In European and American folk medicine it is used for [3+, 4+, 2]:
The German Commission E approved hawthorn use for mild heart failure in the 80s. Hawthorn extracts are mainly obtained from the common and English (C. laevigata) hawthorn, their 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 need a minimum flavonoid content of 1.5% [1+].
In China, only the berries and leaves are used. There are no requirements for the 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 both China and Europe [1+].
Flavonoids are most concentrated in the flowers. Bavarians are also rich in them, but ripe ones are less. Leaves are higher in vitexin and oligomeric proanthocyanidins [10, 11+].
Although not approved by the FDA, hawthorn extract is commercially available as a supplement, especially for heart disease. Regulations set production 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 the 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), both alone and as add-on therapy, improves mild heart failure according to two meta-analyses and 8 studies on more than 4k people. It increased 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 symptoms of heart failure in 2 studies on nearly 3k people who were also taking conventional medicine; it only reduced the risk of sudden death. However, the dose could not have been sufficient because the majority of the included people had moderate to severe heart failure [22, 23].
Homeopathic hawthorn remedies are also used, although these may not contain active compounds. In one trial on more than 200 people, homeopathic hawthorn (10-20 drops, 3x/day) was as effective as conventional medicine. However, the study suffered from multiple flaws (lack of randomization and blinding, evaluation 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 1k 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 the vessels by strengthening their inner lining [25, 26].
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High blood pressure is the main risk factor for heart disease. Hawthorn extract (500-1,200 mg/day) lowered blood pressure in 4 clinical trials on almost 300 people [27+, 28, 29, 30, 18].
The extract also lowered blood pressure in rats and relaxed arteries in tissue studies [ 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 ].
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Orthostatic hypotension (literally, “upright standing low 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 often 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 medicines and interventions. However, it is probably not effective when used in the short term or as a standalone in people with more severe heart problems.
However, note that hawthorn is not approved by the FDA for heart disease. You can try this herb if you and your doctor determine that it may be appropriate for improving your arthritis. Remember that taking hawthorn should never be done in place of what your doctor advises or prescribes.
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Poor heart blood and oxygen supply can be caused by clots in blood vessels that feed the heart (coronary arteries). This eventually causes chest pain or angina [42+].
Cholesterol buildup 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) in combination with exercise prevented artery clogging .
Hawthorn tablets relieved chest pain in a Chinese clinical trial on 46 people. However, we could not access the specific studies to analyze it [44+].
In animals and cells, hawthorn extract prevented high blood cholesterol, inflammation, free radical LDL damage, and artery wall thickening—all of which increase the risk of clogging [ 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 , 49 , 50 ].
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Coronary arteries can also be blocked by blood clots. Although hawthorn extract prevented platelets from clumping together in animals and test tubes, a high dose (2,400 mg/day) was ineffective in a trial on 16 people [51, 52, 53, 54, 55+].
The surgery to unclog vessels can damage their inner walls, which triggers narrowing of the vessels. In rats, hawthorn extract prevented this unwanted effect .
In a trial on 49 people, hawthorn extract (400 mg, 3x/day) reduced blood cholesterol, both free and bound to LDL. Likewise, a complex with 129 mg of hawthorn and other herbs (Asian water plantain, corn silk, Chinese knotweed, lingzhi mushroom and mulberry) reduced LDL cholesterol in a trial on 42 people (4 capsules, 2x/day) [57, 58] .
All in all, the existing evidence is not enough to claim that hawthorn lowers blood cholesterol. Further 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 kolanut) 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 if hawthorn contributed to the benefits.
Chronic stress and depression are closely related. Different extracts containing Chinese but not common hawthorn reduced 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 as sufficient evidence. Additional clinical trials testing only hawthorn need to be conducted to find out if it has anti-anxiety effects in humans.
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A traditional Chinese medicine with hawthorn, goji berries, safflower, kombu, and mulberry extracts (Menoprogren, 4x/day) reduced menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, and mood changes in a trial on 83 women. It also improved low levels of sex hormones (estradiol and progesterone) .
Menoprogren also prevented drops 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 UV-exposed mice and skin cells, hawthorn extract increased collagen