The Benefits Of Hawthorn Berries – Nature has blessed us with many medicinal plants that contribute to our health in many ways. Most of these plants are a source of food while others are used for preparation of traditional and orthodox medicines. One such medicinal plant that is essential for the healthy functioning of our body is hawthorn.
Hawthorn is considered as an important plant due to its efficacy in treating several diseases like kidney stones, dyspnoea (breathing difficulties), indigestion and cardiovascular diseases etc. Hawthorn is the common name for more than 280 plant species in the genus Cretaceous. Hawthorn belongs to the Rosaceae family and grows mainly in temperate parts of the world such as Europe, eastern North America and eastern Asia.
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It is a thorny shrub notable for its medicinal utility in all its parts such as berries, leaves, roots, bark, flowers and stems. Hawthorn can be consumed in liquid extract, tea or powder form. The flowers are white in color, the berries are reddish in color while the leaves are green in color.
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The lobed leaves are arranged in whorls on long stems while the fruit (how) resembles a plum stone. The bright red hawthorn fruit is distinguished by its sharp taste and tastes well with overripe apples. The berries contain 1 to 5 seeds each but it depends entirely on the cultivar.
Hawthorn is also known as Hooberry, White Thorn, Mayhaw, Tijucots, Thornapple, Shanzah (山楂) or May Tree. The plant usually grows between 5 and 15 meters in height with short sharp spikes 1 to 4 cm long. Some species of Crataegus include; Crataegus monogyna, Crataegus fluviatilis, Crataegus ambitiosa, Crataegus putnamiana, Crataegus berberifolia, Crataegus mercerensis, Crataegus okanaganensis, Crataegus oxyacantha, Crataegus pinnatisidausa etc.
Many species of hawthorn are used for medicinal purposes due to their high nutritional, therapeutic and chemical constituents. Researchers have revealed that hawthorn fruit is an excellent source of antioxidants such as flavonoids (ursolic acid, chlorogenic acid, rutin, epicatechin, protocatechuic acid, quercetin, hyperoside and isoquercitrin). Chang et al., (2002) reviewed 54 references that address every aspect of hawthorn, including its chemical constituents, traditional uses, medicinal effects and pharmacological properties.
They revealed that hawthorn flowers, fruits and leaves both contain several chemical compounds such as triterpenic acids (0.5% to 1.4% in fruits), flavonoids (0.1% to 1%), flavonoids (1% to 2%) in flowers. In and leaves, traces of oligomeric proanthocyanidins (1% to 3% in flowers, fruits and leaves), 14 sterols, organic acids (2% to 6%) and cardioactive amines. However, the main biological compounds of hawthorn are oligomeric procyanidins (OPC). ) and flavonoids.
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Both the leaves and fruits of hawthorn are edible. Hawthorn fruits can be used to make wine, juice, jelly, jam, rillettes, canned fruit, alcoholic beverages, hawthorn vinegar and wine. Young leaves can be added to salads and used to prepare soups and stews.
Lakshmi et al., (2013) examined the antibacterial potential of hawthorn berry ethanolic extract (HBEE) against enteric pathogens causing diarrhoea. These internal pathogens include; E. coli, S.boydii, S.typhi and V.cholerae.
The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) were determined by the macro-broth dilution method. The results showed that hawthorn berry ethanolic extract exhibited significant antibacterial activity against the tested enterobacterial pathogens at different concentrations. Therefore, hawthorn can be used to treat intestinal infections such as diarrhea.
Han et al., (2016) investigated the differential effects of polyphenol-enriched extracts from hawthorn fruit peels (HPP) and hawthorn flesh peels (HFP) against high-fructose diet-induced liver injury in rats. Studies show that the major polyphenols in hawthorn are hyperoside, chlorogenic acid, epicatechin and rutin. These polyphenols were higher in hawthorn fruit peels than in hawthorn flesh peels. The results show that hawthorn fruit, especially its peel, is a rich source of natural polyphenolic chemopreventive agents for the treatment of liver diseases.
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Chang et al., (2002) reported that hawthorn fruits have been included in traditional Chinese medicine to aid in easy digestion and proper gastrointestinal function. This explains why hawthorn is mostly prescribed for indigestion, epigastric distention, as well as abdominal pain.
Çaliskan (2012) evaluated the antioxidant activity, total phenolic content and antioxidant capacity of 5 Cretaceous species. Antioxidant activity and total phenolic content of fruits were determined by Folin-Ciocalteu assays and β-carotene bleaching. Antioxidant capacity was determined by 2, 2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assay. The results show that hawthorn fruit species can act as an excellent source of natural antioxidants. Researchers recommend that the consumption of hawthorn fruit and its products is a rich source of antioxidants for the body.
Keser et al., (2014) investigated the antioxidant properties and some biological compounds of hawthorn water and ethanol extracts of ripe fruits, leaves and flowers. Antioxidant activities of the extracts were evaluated on ABTS•+, DPPH•, reducing power, superoxide scavenging, ferrous metal chelating activity assays and phenolic content of the extracts using Folin—Cioacalteu’s reagent. Based on high-performance liquid chromatography, flavonoids such as kaempferol, rutin, naringenin, apigenin, quercetin and myricetin were identified in hawthorn extract.
The results showed that the ethanol and aqueous extracts of hawthorn fruits had the highest activity in metal chelating activity and reducing power assays. Furthermore, it was shown that water flower extract has higher flavonoid content than water leaf extract. Researchers attribute hawthorn’s antioxidant capacity to its polyphenolic content.
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Lin et al., (2011) reviewed the lipid-lowering effects and mechanisms involved in the actions of hawthorn. Hawthorn powder extracts inhibited acyl CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT) activity in Caco-2 cells. The inhibitory activity of hawthorn was positively correlated with the triterpenic acids (ursolic acid and oleanolic acid) found in the extract. They further studied the cholesterol-lowering effects of hawthorn and its possible additive effect with plant sterol esters (PSE) in hamsters.
The animals were fed a semi-synthetic diet containing cholesterol at 0.08% (control) or the same diet containing (a) hawthorn dichloromethane extract 0.37%, (b) plant sterol esters 0.24% and (c) hawthorn dichloromethane extract (0.37%). Extended with d) 0.24% plant sterol esters or (e) mixture of ursolic acid and oleanolic acid (0.01%) for four consecutive weeks.
When compared with a control diet, hawthorn, plant sterol esters, ursolic acid and oleanolic acid significantly reduced plasma non-HDL (VLDL + LDL) cholesterol concentrations. Accordingly, hepatic cholesterol ester content was also reduced. These researchers attributed the cholesterol-lowering effects of these ingredients to their abilities to increase faecal neutral sterol excretion. Ursolic acid and oleanolic acid are responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effect of hawthorn because of their ability to inhibit intestinal ACAT activity. Additionally, hawthorn and its bioactive compounds (ursolic acid and oleanolic acid) enhanced the cholesterol-lowering effect of plant sterols.
Chang et al., (2005) reported that hawthorn plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases such as hyperlipidemia, heart failure, high blood pressure and arrhythmic (irregular or irregular heartbeat). can The ability of this plant to treat heart diseases is attributed to its antioxidants such as flavonoids.
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Furthermore, Asher et al., (2012) confirmed that hawthorn extract has been used for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases since ancient times. Several clinical trials have shown the efficacy of hawthorn in treating heart failure and lowering blood pressure. The blood pressure lowering effect of hawthorn is attributed to its flavonoids and nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation. Hawthorn tea is commonly used to treat cardiovascular diseases.
Fujisawa et al. dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) and 2, 4, 6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) colitis. Mice that developed acute colitis showed signs of gross rectal bleeding, weight loss, and diarrhea within ten days. Interestingly, hawthorn fruit (2 g/kg body weight) restored body weight, colon length and increased hemoglobin concentration in these experimental animals.
Hawthorn fruit reduced inflammatory symptoms such as polymorphonuclear leukocytes and infiltration by multiple erosion lesions as well as improved leukotriene B4 (LTB4) (a biochemical parameter of inflammation mass). The results suggest that hawthorn fruit and its extract can be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease.
Lin et al., (2011) reported that consumption of 10 g/day of dried hawthorn helps with satiety after a large meal or a fatty meal.
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The wood of some hawthorn species is durable, hard and resistant to decay. As a result, the wood is suitable for fence posts, tool handles and wood carving.
Studies show that mild side effects of high consumption of hawthorn are sedation and nausea. Moreover, it is worth noting that high consumption of hawthorn can cause cardiac arrhythmias and significantly lower blood pressure. People on digoxin (a cardiac stimulant) are advised not to take hawthorn.
Disclaimer This post is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Always remember to consult your healthcare provider before making any health decisions or for advice, guidance and treatment regarding a specific medical condition.
1] Asher, GN, Vera, AJ, Weaver, MA, Dominik, R, Kagi, M et al.