What Is Hawthorn Berries Used For – 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, tart flavor and mild sweetness. Their color ranges from yellow to dark red (
What Is Hawthorn Berries Used For
For hundreds of years, people have used hawthorn berries as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart problems, and high blood pressure. In fact, berries have been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine since at least 659 AD.
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Antioxidants help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals, which can harm your body when they are present in high levels.
Free radicals can come from certain foods. You may also have higher levels of them from exposure to environmental toxins such as air pollution and cigarette smoke (
Polyphenols are associated with a number of health benefits due to their antioxidant activity, including reduced risk (
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 that have antioxidant properties that have been linked to numerous health benefits.
Research has shown that chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers.
In a study on mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds, leading to reduced liver inflammation and damage.
In one study, researchers gave vitexin—a compound found in hawthorn leaves—to mice with respiratory problems. This treatment reduced the production of molecules that cause inflammation and reduced the response of white blood cells to inflammation (
Hawthorn Berries (zaaroor)
These promising results from animal and test-tube studies suggest that the supplement may offer anti-inflammatory benefits in humans. However, more research is needed.
Summary Hawthorn berry extract has shown anti-inflammatory potential in experimental and animal studies. However, human research is needed.
In traditional Chinese medicine, hawthorn berries are one of the most commonly recommended foods for treating high blood pressure.
Animal studies have shown that hawthorn can act as a vasodilator, meaning it can relax constricted blood vessels, which ultimately lowers blood pressure.
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A 10-week study examined the effects of taking hawthorn extract in 36 people with mildly elevated blood pressure.
Researchers found that those who took 500 mg of the extract daily had lower diastolic blood pressure—the bottom number in the blood pressure reading.
In a 2006 study, researchers gave 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract daily for 16 weeks to 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. People who received the extract experienced greater improvements in blood pressure than those in the placebo group (
However, more research is needed to support these findings. It is also important to note that using the extract is not the same as eating the berries.
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Summary Some studies suggest that hawthorn berries lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. However, further studies are needed.
Some studies show that hawthorn extract can improve blood cholesterol levels due to its flavonoid and pectin content. Pectin is a type of fiber that is involved in cholesterol metabolism (
Imbalanced levels of cholesterol in the blood—especially high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol—play a role in atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in the 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 fed hawthorn berry supplements, they had significantly lower fasting triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
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 effects of hawthorn extract on blood cholesterol.
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Summary Animal and human studies suggest that taking hawthorn extract may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, more human studies are needed.
People have used hawthorn berries and extract for centuries to treat digestive problems, especially indigestion and stomach aches.
Berries contain fiber that has been shown to aid digestion by reducing constipation and acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods that feed and promote healthy gut bacteria that are vital to maintaining healthy digestion.
One observation in people with indigestion showed 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, a study in rats found that hawthorn extract dramatically reduced the transit time of food in the digestive system (
In addition, research in rodents has shown that compounds in hawthorn berries can enhance the production and activity of digestive enzymes—specifically, those needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods.
Summary People have used hawthorn berries as a digestive aid for centuries. It can relieve constipation and boost the production of enzymes needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods.
Hawthorn berries prevent premature skin aging caused by collagen degradation due to excessive exposure to the sun or UV rays.
What Is Hawthorn Berry
One pilot study found that a mixture 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 hawthorn berries. However, research in this area is limited and human studies are needed.
Summary Some studies suggest that hawthorn berries may help reduce the signs of aging as a result of their antioxidant content.
In an older study involving 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 why scientists continue to research it as a potential treatment for central nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression (
However, these studies used a variety of hawthorn products, not necessarily the berries specifically. More research is needed.
If you want to try a hawthorn supplement to manage your anxiety, don’t stop using your current medication and be sure to discuss it with a healthcare professional first 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 research is needed on the effects of hawthorn berries on anxiety.
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Hawthorn berry is best known in the traditional context of its use in the treatment of heart failure, along with other traditional medicines. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump blood properly.
Numerous studies have shown that hawthorn berries can have beneficial effects without severe side effects in people with heart failure (
Studies mostly show improvements in heart function and symptoms of heart failure — such as shortness of breath and fatigue (
However, some evidence suggests that hawthorn may be harmful in certain cases of heart failure. One study found that taking it along with conventional treatment increased the risk of developing heart failure (
Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berry
Summary In some traditional medicines, people usually take hawthorn berries along with other traditional medicines for heart failure. However, it can be harmful when combined with common heart failure medications.
Hawthorn berries may be difficult to find at your local grocery store. However, you can find it at farmers markets and specialty health food stores.
Hawthorn berry supplements usually contain the berries along with the leaves and flowers, although some contain 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 not yet established an optimal effective dose (
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Note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements like hawthorn less stringently than over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
Look for products that have received the seal of approval from independent organizations that evaluate supplement efficacy 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 have yet to be determined and more research is needed.
Hawthorn berries have not had many side effects. Those that do exist seem to range from mild to moderate.
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The most common things people have 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 of hawthorn berry consumption are usually mild. They often include sweating, headache, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, agitation, and gastrointestinal effects.
The use of medicinal herbs as an alternative treatment for several diseases is becoming increasingly common