Hawthorn Berries Vit E Odor Garlic Herbs – Written by Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA and SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD – Medically reviewed by Kathy W. Warwick, RD, CDE, Nutrition – Updated on December 13, 2021
These nutrient-rich berries have a tart, tangy flavor and mild sweetness. They range in color from yellow to dark red (
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For centuries, people have used hawthorn as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart issues, and high blood pressure. In fact, the berry has been an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine since at least 659 AD (
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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 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 Hawthorn berries contain plant polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties linked to numerous health benefits.
Research has found that chronic inflammation is associated with many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (
In a study of mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds, leading to reduced 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 stimulate 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 to 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 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 reducing 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 reduced diastolic blood pressure – the bottom number of a blood pressure reading (
In a 2006 study, researchers gave 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure 1, 200 mg of hawthorn extract every day for 16 weeks. Those who took the extract had greater improvements in blood pressure than those in the placebo group (
However, further studies are needed to support these findings. It is also important to note that using extract is not the same as eating the berries.
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Summary Some research suggests that hawthorn berries may reduce blood pressure by helping to narrow blood vessels. However, further studies are needed.
Some studies show that hawthorn extract may improve blood cholesterol levels thanks to its flavonoid and pectin content. Pectin is a type of fiber that is involved in cholesterol metabolism (
Imbalanced levels of blood cholesterol – especially high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol – play a role in atherosclerosis, or the build-up of plaque in your blood vessels (
If plaque continues to build up, it can completely block a blood vessel, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
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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 rats were given hawthorn supplements, they 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 significantly reduced the thickness of harmful plaque buildup 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 Research in animals and humans suggests that hawthorn extract may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, more human research is needed.
People have been using hawthorn berries and extract for centuries to treat digestive issues, especially 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 nourish and support healthy gut bacteria, which are critical to maintaining healthy digestion (
One observational study of 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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In addition, it was noted in a rat study that hawthorn extract significantly reduced the gut transit time of food in the digestive system (
In addition, research in rodents suggests that compounds in hawthorn berries may improve the production and activity of digestive enzymes—those needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods (
Summary People have used hawthorn as a digestive aid for centuries. It may help relieve constipation and improve the production of enzymes needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods.
Hawthorn berries may help prevent premature skin aging caused by collagen degradation caused by excessive sun exposure or ultraviolet light.
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One test-tube study found that a combination of hawthorn and ginseng extract could prevent signs of aging by preventing wrinkle formation and increasing skin moisture (
Research suggests that this effect may be due to hawthorn’s antioxidant content. However, research in this area is limited, and human studies are needed.
Summary Some research suggests that hawthorn berries may help reduce signs of aging due to their antioxidant content.
In an older study of 264 people with anxiety, a combination of hawthorn extract, magnesium, and California poppy flower significantly reduced anxiety levels compared to a placebo. It is not clear, however, what the specific role of the hawthorn was (
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Hawthorn appears to have few 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 necessarily the berry. 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 healthcare professional beforehand to make sure it’s safe for you.
Summary Scientists are investigating hawthorn supplements as a potential treatment for anxiety. However, currently not much research has been done on them for this purpose. More studies are needed on the effects of hawthorn on anxiety.
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Hawthorn berry is best known for its use in traditional contexts to treat heart failure, along with other traditional medicines. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump blood properly.
Numerous studies have suggested that hawthorn may have beneficial effects without serious adverse effects in people with heart failure (
Studies mainly show improvements in heart function and heart failure symptoms – such as shortness of breath and fatigue (
However, some evidence has suggested that hawthorn may be harmful in some cases of heart failure. One study found that taking it along with standard treatments increased the risk of developing heart failure (
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Summary In some traditional medicinal practices, people often take hawthorn along with other traditional medicines for heart failure. However, it may be harmful when combined with traditional heart failure medications.
Hawthorn may be difficult to find at your local grocery store. However, you may be able to find it at farmers markets and specialty health food stores.
Hawthorn 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 different dosage recommendations. Typical doses 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 medications.
Look for products that have received a seal of approval from independent organizations that evaluate supplement effectiveness 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, appropriate doses are still undefined and further research is needed.
There have not been many reported side effects from taking hawthorn. Those that do appear to range from mild to moderate.
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The most commonly reported are sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, agitation, and gastrointestinal effects (
Although 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 the consumption of hawthorn berries are usually 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 is increasing