Whole Herb Hawthorn Berries – 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. Colors range from yellow to dark red (
Whole Herb Hawthorn Berries
For hundreds of years, people have used hawthorn as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart problems and high blood pressure. In fact, strawberries have been a key part of traditional Chinese medicine since 659 AD (
Organic Hawthorn Berry, Whole (crataegus Monogyna)
Antioxidants help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals, which can harm the body when present in high levels.
Free radicals can come from certain foods. You can also have higher levels due to exposure to environmental toxins such as air pollution and cigarette smoke (
Polyphenols are associated with many health benefits due to their antioxidant activity, including a reduced risk (
Although initial animal and cell research 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 many health benefits.
Research has shown that chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain types of cancer (
In a study in mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds, leading to reduced inflammation and liver damage (
In one study, researchers gave vitexin — a compound found in hawthorn leaves — to mice with respiratory disease. This treatment reduced the production of molecules that trigger inflammation and reduced the response of white blood cells to inflammation (
Hawthorn (crataegus Oxycantha)
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 both test-tube 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 show that hawthorn can act as a vasodilator, meaning it can relax narrowed blood vessels, which ultimately lowers blood pressure (
Hawthorn As An Herbal Remedy
A 10-week study looked at 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 experienced a reduction in diastolic blood pressure—the bottom number of the blood pressure reading (
In a 2006 study, researchers gave 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract every day for 16 weeks to 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. People who took the extract experienced a greater improvement in blood pressure than those in the placebo group (
However, more studies are needed to support these findings. It is also important to know that using the extract is not the same as eating berries.
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Summary Some research suggests that hawthorn berries may lower blood pressure by helping to dilate 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 participates in cholesterol metabolism (
Imbalanced blood cholesterol levels—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 given two doses of hawthorn extract had lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and 28-47% lower liver triglyceride levels compared to mice that did not receive the extract (
Similarly, a 6-week study in rats showed that rats fed hawthorn berry supplements had significantly lower fasting triglycerides 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 in the carotid artery (
Although this research is promising, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effect of hawthorn extract on blood cholesterol.
Impressive Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berry
Summary Animal and human research suggests that taking hawthorn extract may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, more human research is needed.
For centuries, people have used hawthorn berries and extract to treat digestive problems, especially indigestion and stomach pain (
Berries contain fiber that has been shown to aid digestion by reducing constipation and act as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods that nurture and promote healthy gut bacteria, which are key to maintaining healthy digestion (
One observational study in people with slow digestion found that each additional gram of dietary fiber people ate was associated with a 30-minute reduction in the time between bowel movements (
Hawthorn Berry ( Crataegus Monogyna )
In addition, a study in rats showed that hawthorn extract dramatically reduced the transit time of food through the intestines in the digestive system (
In addition, research in rodents suggests that compounds in hawthorn berries could increase the production and activity of digestive enzymes—namely, those needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods (
Summary People have used hawthorn for centuries as a digestive aid. It can help relieve constipation and increase the production of enzymes needed to digest fatty and protein-rich foods.
Hawthorn berries can help prevent premature skin aging caused by the breakdown of collagen due to overexposure to the sun or ultraviolet light.
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One test-tube study found that a mixture of hawthorn extract and ginseng 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 research suggests that hawthorn berries may help reduce the 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 flowers 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 investigate it as a possible treatment for central nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression (
However, these studies used different types of hawthorn products, not necessarily berries specifically. More research is needed.
If you want to try a hawthorn dietary supplement to help manage anxiety, don’t stop using your current medications and talk to your health care professional first to make sure it’s safe for you.
Summary Scientists are investigating hawthorn supplements as a possible treatment for anxiety. However, there is currently not much research on them for this purpose. More studies are needed on the effects of hawthorn berries on anxiety.
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Hawthorn berries are best known for their traditional use in the treatment of heart failure, in addition to other traditional remedies. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump blood properly.
Several studies have shown that hawthorn berries may have beneficial effects without serious adverse effects in people with heart failure (
Studies mostly show improvement 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 some cases of heart failure. One study found that taking this medicine along with conventional treatments increases the risk of heart failure progression (
Hawthorn (shan Zha)
Summary In some traditional medicine practices, people commonly take hawthorn 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 may be able to find it in markets and specialty health food stores.
Hawthorn berry supplements usually contain the berries along with the leaves and flowers, although some include just 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 determined the optimal effective dose (
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Remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements like hawthorn under less stringent regulations than over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
Look for products that have received the seal of approval from independent organizations that evaluate the effectiveness and quality of supplements, such as the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Summary There are many ways to eat hawthorn berries or enjoy them as a side dish. However, appropriate doses are still not defined and more research is needed.
There have not been many reports of side effects from taking hawthorn berries. Those that do exist appear to be mild to moderate.
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The most common ones people have reported are sweating, headaches, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, agitation, and gastrointestinal effects (
Although these are not life-threatening events, consult a healthcare professional if you experience any of these symptoms.
Summary The side effects of eating hawthorn berries are usually mild. They often include sweating, headaches, drowsiness, palpitations, mild rash, agitation, and gastrointestinal effects.
Medicinal herbs are increasingly being used as an alternative treatment for many diseases