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Hawthorn Berries Hypotension
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Does Hawthorn Lower Blood Pressure?
Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to a peer-reviewed scientific study. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc…]” means that the information was found in the full scientific study rather than an abstract.
Hawthorn is one of Europe’s oldest herbs. Its flowers, leaves, and fruits are highly valued, especially as a medicine for treating heart disease. This plant may provide additional benefits to those with high cholesterol, diabetes, and anxiety. Read on to discover more about Hawthorn and how to use it safely.
Hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) are thorny trees or shrubs with white flowers and red berries. Although the name “Hawthorn” originally referred to the common hawthorn (C. monogyna), it is used for the whole genus and even for its relative (Rhaphiolepis) [1+].
Hawthorns are native to Europe, North America, and Asia. They are in the same family as roses and many other edible fruits such as apples, peaches, plums, and cherries (Rosaceae) .
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Hawthorn is the oldest medicinal plant known in Europe and its use was first recorded 2,000 years ago. In traditional European and American medicine, it is used for [3+, 4+, 2]:
The German Committee E approved the use of hawthorn for mild heart failure in the 1980s. Hawthorn extracts are mainly obtained from common and English (C. laevigata) hawthorn, their hybrids, and other European species [3+].
The extracts used in Europe and America are obtained from berries, leaves, and flowers. Berries must contain at least 1% procyanidins, while leaves and flowers need a minimum flavonoid content of 1.5% [1+].
In China, there are only berries and leaves. There are no requirements for berries, but the 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 candies in both China and Europe [1+].
Flavonoids are most concentrated in flowers. Berries are still abundant in them, but ripe fruits are less. The leaves are higher in vitexin and oligomeric proanthocyanidins [10, 11+].
Although not approved by the FDA, hawthorn extract is commercially available as a dietary supplement, especially for heart disease. Regulations set manufacturing standards for but do not guarantee that they are safe or effective. Talk to your doctor before using hawthorn to avoid unexpected interactions.
Although conventional treatment improves symptoms and reduces mortality, 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 an adjunctive therapy, improves mild heart failure according to two meta-analyses and 8 studies involving more than 4k people. It increases 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 heart failure in 2 studies on nearly 3k people still taking traditional medicine; It only reduces the risk of sudden death. The dose may not be enough, however, because most people have moderate to severe heart failure [22, 23].
Homeopathic hawthorn remedies are also used, although these may not contain active compounds. In one experiment on 200 people, homeopathic hawthorn (10-20 drops, 3x / day) is as effective as traditional medicine. However, the study suffered from several flaws (lack of randomization and blinding, evaluation of subjective parameters, and short follow-up) [24+].
Blood vessels can become blocked in the legs in people with heart failure, which leads to swelling. In 2 studies involving 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 reduces the leakage of blood from the vessels by strengthening their internal strength [25, 26].
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High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for heart disease. Hawthorn extract (500-1, 200 mg/day) reduced blood pressure in 4 clinical trials in nearly 300 people [27+, 28, 29, 30, 18].
The extract also reduced blood pressure in rats and relaxed arteries in tissue studies [31, 32, 33, 34, 35].
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Orthostatic hypotension (literally, “standing low blood 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 commonly used to raise blood pressure in people suffering from orthostatic hypotension. This solution (5-80 drops / day) worked in 6 clinical trials over 500 people, but its rapid action indicates 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 traditional medicine and interventions. However, it may not be effective for short-term use or as a stand-alone drug in people with more severe heart conditions.
However, note that hawthorn is not approved by the FDA for heart disease. You may try this herb if you and your doctor determine that it is appropriate to improve your arthritis. Remember that taking hawthorn should not be used as a substitute for what a doctor recommends or prescribes.
Effect Of Crataegus Usage In Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: An Evidence Based Approach.
A lack of blood and oxygen supply to the heart can be caused by a blockage in the blood vessels that feed the heart (coronary arteries). This ultimately causes chest pain or abdominal pain [42+].
Cholesterol buildup in the arteries is the most common cause of chest pain. In a clinical trial in 80 people with chest pain, hawthorn extract (240 mg, 2x/day) combined with exercise prevented arterial occlusion .
Hawthorn seeds relieve chest pain in a 46-person Chinese clinical trial. However, we did not have access to specific studies to analyze it [44+].
In animals and cells, hawthorn extract prevents high blood cholesterol, inflammation, LDL damage by free radicals, and arterial stiffness – all of which increase the risk of blockage [45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50].
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Coronary arteries can also be blocked by blood clots. Although hawthorn extract prevents platelet aggregation in animals and test tubes, a high dose (2, 400 mg/day) was not effective in an experiment in 16 people [51, 52, 53, 54, 55+].
Surgery to unclog the vessels may damage their inner walls, which causes narrowing of the vessels. In mice, hawthorn extract prevented this unwanted effect .
In an experiment on 49 people, hawthorn extract (400 mg, 3x / day) reduced cholesterol in the blood, both free and bound to LDL. Similarly, a complex with hawthorn 129 mg and other herbs (Asian water plant, corn silk, Chinese knotweed, lingzhi mushroom, and mulberry) reduces LDL cholesterol in a trial in 42 people (4 capsules, 2x / day) [57, 58] .
All in all, the existing evidence is not enough to claim that hawthorn lowers cholesterol in the blood. Further clinical research is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.
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In a clinical trial in more than 250 people with anxiety disorders, a formula containing hawthorn, California poppy, and magnesium (2 tablets, 2x/day) reduced anxiety. Similarly, a formula with hawthorn and other herbs (purple passionflower, valerian, black horehound, guarana, and kola nut) was effective in a trial of almost 200 people (2 pills, 3x/day) [63, 64].
However, many of the natural compounds used in the formulas mentioned above have anti-anxiety properties. It is difficult to say if hawthorn contributes to the benefits.
Chronic stress and depression are closely linked. Different extracts from Chinese but not common hawthorn reduce depression in stressed rats [67, 68, 69, 70].
Two clinical studies using hawthorn as part of a herbal combination and a few animal studies cannot be considered sufficient evidence. More clinical trials testing hawthorn alone should be conducted to find out if it has an anti-anxiety effect in humans.
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Traditional Chinese medicine containing hawthorn extract, goji berry, safflower, kombu, and mulberry extract (menoprogren, 4x/day) reduced menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, and mood swings in a trial of 83 women. It also improves low sex hormone levels (estradiol and progesterone) .
Menoprogren also prevents the decline of sex hormones in postmenopausal rats by protecting ovarian follicles [72, 73, 74, 75].
In a clinical trial in 20 women, a combination of hawthorn extract and ginseng on the eyelids reduced wrinkles while increasing skin elasticity, moisture, and radiance .
UV rays accelerate the aging of the skin by reducing its collagen content. In mice and skin cells exposed to UV, hawthorn extract increases collagen