Stephen Sinatra, Hawthorn Berries, Eclectic Institute – , or rose, family. It is native to Northern Europe, but now grows all over the world. The red berry-like fruit of this spiny plant is sometimes called “ha” and is used for medicinal and culinary purposes. Hawthorn berry added
The berries have been used in traditional medicine since the first century and contain phytonutrients called anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, antioxidants that have a variety of therapeutic effects, including strengthening blood vessel walls. Extracts of hawthorn berries, leaves and flowers also contain compounds that have a tonic effect on the heart and vascular system. Hawthorn has been studied to treat health concerns related to the heart and blood vessels. These include heart attack, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, low and high blood pressure, angina, atherosclerosis and high cholesterol. A meta-analysis based on data from 14 studies concluded that hawthorn extract provides “significant benefit” as an adjunct to conventional treatment of chronic heart failure. In particular, symptoms including shortness of breath and fatigue were significantly alleviated compared to placebo treatment.
Stephen Sinatra, Hawthorn Berries, Eclectic Institute
Hawthorn is used for digestive and kidney problems, including indigestion and diarrhea, and to address anxiety. Topically, hawthorn can be applied to relieve sores, ulcers, boils, frostbite, and itching. However, there is insufficient evidence of its effectiveness for these uses.
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Before taking hawthorn, talk to your healthcare professional, as it can interact significantly with several medications. Hawthorn may affect blood pressure and should not be taken with high blood pressure medications, including beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, drugs for “male enhancement” (most of which work by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow), and drugs that increase blood flow to the heart. Additionally, people taking digoxin should not take hawthorn.
In general, any herbs and supplements that affect the heart and/or lower blood pressure should not be taken with hawthorn. Dr. Weil recommends taking it only under a doctor’s supervision.
Hawthorn is considered safe for most adults. Side effects are rare and may include upset stomach, headache and dizziness.
Products available in the United States include hawthorn leaves, flowers, and fruits, sometimes in combination. Look for extracts of leaves and flowers certified for its content of flavonoids (about two percent) or oligomeric procyanidins (18-20 percent).
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Most studies used doses ranging from 500 to 1,500 mg per day. Hawthorn berry extracts can be taken indefinitely.
Hawthorn berry preparations are not as well studied as hawthorn leaf and flower. The German Commission E no longer recognizes its use and only approves preparations of hawthorn leaf with flower. Very little research has been done in the United States on the hawthorn berry using modern methods. Although there is probably no harm in taking it, I would not rely on hawthorn berry extract alone to treat heart-related problems – I would suggest a supplement containing the leaves and flowers, and only as part of a holistic treatment. program Additionally, always use hawthorn under the supervision of your healthcare provider if you have a heart condition.
Sources: Hawthorne. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Edition. Stockton, CA: Division of Therapeutic Research, updated January 28, 2013 and accessed January 22, 2014 at http://naturaldatabaseconsumer.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?cs=NONMP&s=NDC&pt=1070&fid=5270&fid=5270 Bussey WR. Juretzek W, Koch E. Hawthorne (Crataegus). In: Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, et al. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker; 2005:337–347. Hawthorne. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinkman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:182–191. Pittler MH, Guo R, Ernst E (2008). Hawthorn extract for the treatment of chronic heart failure. In Guo, Ruling. “Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews”. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Jan 23 (1): CD005312. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005312.pub2.PMID 18254076. Herbs at a Glance: Hawthorn. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Updated April 2012, accessed January 22, 2014 at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/hawthorn