Hawthorn Berries Reviews – 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 and mildly sweet taste. They vary in color from yellow to dark red (
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For hundreds of years, people have used hawthorn berry as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart problems, and high blood pressure. In fact, the berry has been a key part of traditional Chinese medicine since at least 659 A.D. (
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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. You can also have higher levels of them as a result of exposure to environmental toxins such as air pollution and cigarette smoke (
Polyphenols are associated with numerous health benefits due to their antioxidant activity, including a lower risk of (
Although initial research in animals and cells is promising, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effects of hawthorn berries on disease risk.
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Summary The hawthorn berry contains plant polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that have been linked to numerous health benefits.
Research has found that chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (
In a study on mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced the levels of inflammatory compounds, leading to a reduction in inflammation and liver injury (
In one study, researchers gave vitexin – a compound present in hawthorn leaves – to mice with respiratory conditions. This treatment reduced the production of molecules that cause inflammation and reduced the response of white blood cells to inflammation (
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These promising results from animal and test-tube studies suggest that the supplement may offer anti-inflammatory benefits for humans. However, more research is needed.
Summary Hawthorn berry extract has shown anti-inflammatory potential in test tube and animal studies. Still, research in humans is needed.
In traditional Chinese medicine, hawthorn berry is one of the most commonly recommended foods to help treat high blood pressure (
Animal studies show that hawthorn can act as a vasodilator, meaning it can relax constricted 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 daily had reduced diastolic blood pressure — the bottom number of the blood pressure reading (
In a 2006 study, researchers gave 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract to 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure daily for 16 weeks. People who took the extract experienced more improvement in blood pressure than those in the placebo group (
Still, more studies are needed to support these findings. It is also important to note that using an extract is not the same as eating the berries.
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Summary Some research suggests that hawthorn berries can lower blood pressure by helping to dissolve blood vessels. However, more studies are needed.
Some studies indicate that hawthorn extract can improve blood cholesterol levels thanks to its flavonoid and pectin content. Pectin is a type of fiber involved in cholesterol metabolism (
Imbalanced blood cholesterol levels — particularly high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol — play a role in atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels (
If the plaque continues to build up, it can completely block a blood artery, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
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In an 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 who 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 6-month study in 64 people with atherosclerosis found that taking hawthorn extract at a dose of 2.3 mg per pound (5 mg per kg) of body weight body significantly reduced the thickness of the accumulation of harmful plaque in the carotid artery (
Although this research is promising, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effect of hawthorn extract on blood cholesterol.
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Summary Animal and human research suggests that taking hawthorn extract may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, more human research is needed.
People have used Hawthorn berries and extract for centuries to treat digestive issues, particularly indigestion and stomach pain (
Berries contain fiber, which has been proven to aid digestion by reducing constipation and acting as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods that nurture and promote healthy gut bacteria, which are vital to maintaining healthy digestion (
One observational study in people with slow digestion found that each additional gram of dietary fiber people consumed was associated with a 30-minute reduction in the time between bowel movements (
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Additionally, a rat study observed that hawthorn extract dramatically reduced the intestinal transit time of food in the digestive system (
In addition, research in rodents suggests that compounds in hawthorn berries can improve the production and activity of digestive enzymes — that is, those needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods (
Summary People have used hawthorn berry as a digestive aid for centuries. It can help relieve constipation and improve the production of enzymes needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods.
Hawthorn berries can help prevent premature aging of the skin caused by collagen degradation due to excessive exposure to the sun or ultraviolet light.
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One test-tube study found that a combination 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 the hawthorn berry. 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 as a result of their antioxidant content.
In an older 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 clear 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 scientists continue to research it as a potential treatment for central nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression (
However, these studies used various types of hawthorn products, not necessarily the berry specifically. More research is needed.
If you want to try a hawthorn supplement to manage your anxiety, don’t stop using your current medications, and be sure to discuss it with a health care professional beforehand to make sure it’s safe for you.
Summary Scientists are investigating hawthorn supplements as a potential treatment for anxiety. However, there is currently not much research on them for this purpose. More studies are needed on the effects of hawthorn berry on anxiety.
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The Hawthorn berry is best known for its use in traditional contexts 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 suggested that hawthorn berry may have beneficial effects without severe adverse effects in people with heart failure (
Studies mostly show improvement in heart function and symptoms of heart failure — such as shortness of breath and fatigue (
However, some evidence has suggested 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 progressing (
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Summary In some traditional medicine practices, people commonly take hawthorn berry along with other traditional medicines for heart failure. However, it can be harmful when combined with conventional heart failure medications.
Hawthorn berry can be hard to find in your local grocery store. However, you may be able to find it at farmers markets and specialty health food stores.
Hawthorn berry supplements usually contain the berry along with the leaves and flowers, although some include only the leaves and flowers.
Different brands and forms of hawthorn supplements have varying dosage recommendations. Typical dosages are 250-500 mg three times a day. However, research has 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 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 assess the effectiveness and quality of supplements, such as the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Summary You can eat hawthorn berries in many ways or take them as a supplement. However, appropriate doses are still undefined and more research is needed.
Not many side effects have been reported from taking hawthorn berries. Those that do exist appear to range from mild to moderate.
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The most frequent that people have reported are sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, agitation, 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 consuming hawthorn berries tend to be mild. They often include sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, agitation, and gastrointestinal effects.
The use of medicinal herbs as alternative treatments for various diseases has become increasingly common