Health Benefits Hawthorn Berries – Hawthorn berries are small fruits that can be found on shrubs or trees belonging to the Crataegus family. This plant class includes more than 100 trees and shrubs found throughout Europe, Asia and North America.
A distinctive feature of hawthorn is its high nutrient content, sour taste and relatively little sweetness. The color of hawthorn berries can vary from pale yellow to black.
Health Benefits Hawthorn Berries
For a long time, hawthorn has been used as a medicinal plant that helps normalize digestion, heart muscle function and blood pressure levels. For the same reasons, hawthorn berries are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Let’s see further what hawthorn is good for and how to use it properly.
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As we know, hawthorn berries contain a large amount of polyphenols, which are among the powerful antioxidants of plant origin. When ingested by the human body, they allow neutralizing the negative effects of free radicals – unstable molecules that lead to the destruction of certain cells. Concentrations of unwanted molecules can increase as a result of improper diet, negative environmental effects in the form of polluted air and bad habits such as smoking.
Due to their high antioxidant activity, scientists have linked the inclusion of polyphenols in the diet with a reduced risk of diseases such as:
And while initial studies in the above areas have shown encouraging results, scientists insist that more experiments are needed to determine hawthorn’s effect on various diseases.
Adding hawthorn berries to your diet can reduce inflammation, which can improve your body’s condition. According to research, chronic inflammation causes a number of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, asthma and many others.
Hawthorn Berry: Benefits, Side Effects & Dosage |
In one experiment, it was found that in mice with liver disease, hawthorn was able to reduce inflammatory compounds. At the same time, in another group of rodents suffering from asthma, the product eliminated the symptoms of the disease.
Similar results from animal studies have shown that the supplement may have anti-inflammatory effects, including in humans. But more research is needed to confirm this property.
Hawthorn has been used for many years in Chinese medicine to lower blood pressure. Scientists attribute this use to the berries’ ability to dilate blood vessels, which leads to normalization of blood pressure.
In a 10-week study of people with high blood pressure, scientists found that regular consumption of 500 milligrams of hawthorn extract reduced diastolic blood pressure but had no effect on blood pressure.
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In another experiment involving 79 people with type 2 diabetes, researchers found that 1,200 milligrams of hawthorn extract was more effective at normalizing blood pressure than moderate amounts. In those with normal blood pressure, however, taking this substance did not lead to changes for the worse or better.
It is not uncommon to find hawthorn as one of the ingredients in cosmetic products designed to protect against hair loss or stimulate hair growth. For example, one of the experiments on rats showed that adding hawthorn extract to the diet increases the size and number of hair follicles, which improves the quality of the hair and ensures their enhanced growth.
According to scientists, the effect described above is due to the high content of polyphenols. However, the number of studies in this area of hawthorn use is relatively small. Therefore, some additional experiments are needed to confirm this result.
Some studies show that including hawthorn fruits in the diet can normalize blood fat levels, namely triglycerides and cholesterol. These trace elements are responsible for transporting nutrients and hormones throughout the body. However, this function is only observed if their levels are within normal limits.
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Increased levels of triglycerides and cholesterol with a parallel decrease in HDL (good cholesterol) can lead to the development of atherosclerosis and the accumulation of cholesterol plaques in the vessel walls. The latter process can cause a complete blockage of the blood vessels and, consequently, lead to a stroke or heart attack.
During a study, scientists found that in mice with hawthorn extract in their diet, the level of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) decreased by 28-47 percent, and along with it, the amount of triglycerides decreased. At the same time, another study showed that the effectiveness of the plant is comparable to special drugs for normalizing cholesterol levels. However, unlike the drug, the fruit extract was more effective in reducing LDL levels.
Hawthorn fruits have been used in folk medicine for several hundred years to normalize gastrointestinal function. They can eliminate abdominal pain and upset stomach. Researchers attribute a corresponding property to the high content of plant fibers, which eliminate constipation, improve digestion and act as a probiotic in the body.
Probiotics are substances needed to promote healthy gut bacteria and normalize digestion. One study found that in people with delayed digestion, regular fiber intake reduced the interval between bowel movements by an average of 30 minutes.
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In addition, scientists have discovered that hawthorn extract can reduce the time it takes for food to pass through the gastrointestinal tract. This helps to speed up certain processes and eliminate the symptoms of stomach disorder in a shorter period of time. In addition, this product was able to protect the stomach from damage in participants suffering from ulcers.
One of the characteristic properties of hawthorn is its mild calming effect on the body, which allows you to reduce feelings of anxiety. However, research on the effect of hawthorn on blood pressure has shown that this product has a negligible effect on stress levels. In another experiment, however, combining the berries of this plant with magnesium and maca led to significant reductions in feelings of anxiety and worry.
Based on the fact that taking hawthorn has minimal side effects compared to anti-anxiety medications, scientists continue to study its effects on the central nervous system. In addition, researchers suggest that this product can be used to treat CNS disorders and depression.
If you wish to use hawthorn extract or the fruits of this plant to reduce anxiety, worry, or treat depression, you should first stop taking other medications and consult your doctor.
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Often the benefits of hawthorn are compared to traditional drugs for the treatment of heart failure. An analysis of 14 different experiments conducted in different age groups showed that the use of hawthorn in combination with medication for heart failure improved the function of the heart and its ability to withstand high physical activity. At the same time, the participants in the experiment had a decrease in shortness of breath and an increase in endurance.
A two-year study, which included about 950 people with heart failure, found that hawthorn berries could normalize heart rhythm and relieve shortness of breath more effectively than placebo. In addition, the group that took hawthorn required fewer drugs to treat heart disease.
Another study involving more than 2,600 people with heart failure symptoms showed that hawthorn extract may reduce the risk of death caused by heart disease.
Due to the health benefits of hawthorn described above, doctors strongly recommend the use of this product in combination with drugs for the treatment of heart failure. They also note that the supplement is not dangerous to human health and has minimal side effects.
Hawthorn: Benefits, Side Effects, And Preparations
Hawthorn berries are extremely rare to find in grocery stores. However, they can be effortlessly purchased at specialized online stores.
As a rule, Hawthorn tablets contain not only plant berries, but also leaves and flowers. This is due to the fact that the concentration of useful substances in the last two products is much higher than in fruits.
Recommendations for the use of hawthorn may vary depending on the form. So, for example, for the treatment of heart failure, the extract should be used in an amount of 300 milligrams per day, while in natural form, the recommended amount of consumption is from 250 to 500 milligrams.
It is worth noting that the composition of nutritional supplements in most cases is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, it is impossible to know the effectiveness or safety of a particular supplement.
Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berries
When purchasing supplements, you should look for quality-assured products from independent sources such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab or NSF International.
Although the number of side effects when taking hawthorn is relatively low, doctors recommend that you include this product in the diet with extreme caution. This is because some people have experienced dizziness and nausea when consuming an extract of this plant.
Also, scientists have noted that due to the strong effect on the heart muscle, hawthorn can somehow affect the effect of certain drugs. Therefore, before including it in the diet, you should definitely consult your doctor.
Doctors often attribute the useful properties of hawthorn to its high antioxidant content. Including them in the diet can have a positive effect on the health and function of the heart muscles. Studies show that this product, among other things, can normalize blood pressure, reduce triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol in the blood. Also, its intake can improve hair growth and eliminate inflammatory processes that lead to the development of dangerous diseases.
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If you wish to include hawthorn fruit or supplements of the same name in your diet, consult your doctor beforehand.
On our blog: You’ll find posts by Vietnamese doctors and our editors on a variety of health news and issues. 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 flavor and mild sweetness. They range in color from yellow to dark red (
For hundreds of years, people have used the hawthorn berry as