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Hawthorn Berry Health Benefits

Featured image for "Hawthorn Berry Health Benefits" blog post.Hawthorn berries on tree closeup.

Fact file: Things you Didn’t Know About Hawthorn Berry Health Benefits

*Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Introducing the Plant

Hawthorn Berry (Crataegus Oxycanthus) is a plant from the Crataegus genus which includes bushes, shrubs and trees that are part of the same family as apples and roses. Commonly known as hawthorn, mayblossom, maytree, mayflower, thorn-apple tree or hedgethorn, this plant includes numerous species, all of which have different properties. The number of species has also been increased through the process of crossbreeding.

The plant itself is widely recognized for its bushy or tree structure, strongly resembling the structure of all plants belonging to the Rosaceae family. The hawthorn berry tree is rarely taller than 13 ft, yet it is famous for its strong wood. An interesting fact about the hawthorn tree is that it gets larger and denser with age.

The flowers and fruits are organized in groups and are surrounded by long thorns. The hawthorn berry tree blooms in May, which is how it got some of its nicknames. Its flowers may be white, pink or red with petals resembling those of a rose. Small berries, called haws, appear on the tree as soon as the flowers sprout and are usually red, although occasionally they may be black. As far as leaves are concerned, their shape and size vary, but their common trait is that they are shiny.

Origins and Production

Beautiful sunset over a lone Hawthorn tree growing out of a limestone pavement at the Winskill Stones in the Yorkshire Dales.
The hawthorn tree grows around the world, but is primarily found in the Northern Hemisphere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the plant is native to Northern Europe, today it grows all around the world, wherever there is sufficient moisture. Early mentions of this plant can be found even in ancient Greece and Asia, as well as in Native American culture. However, its occurrence gained in frequency during the Middle Ages, specifically when the United States was concerned. Today it is most frequently found in the continental climate of the Northern hemisphere.

In different cultures, hawthorns have been mentioned in different circumstances. For example, this plant is mentioned in the ancient Serbian folk stories about vampires, believing that a hawthorn stake is sure to murder such, otherwise almost indestructible, monsters. In other parts of the world, it is mentioned as food, famous as the “bread and cheese tree”, due to the fact that its different parts are as safe to eat as is its fruit.

Apart from being safe for consuming, hawthorn berries were often mentioned in ancient cultures as natural remedies. Historical artifacts document that different parts of the hawthorn plant were used to make natural cures for different medical conditions. In ancient Greece and Asia, people even used hawthorn bark, not just berries, leaves or flowers.

Modern science has been looking into different properties of this peculiar plant, especially its fruit, so as to see how much of these ancient stories are true. What scientists have found reveals that this plant and its fruit are incredibly interesting and promising, to say the least.

Nutritional Value and Properties

Crataegus monogyna red fruits and flowers, common or single-seeded hawthorn.
The hawthorn berry is chock full of vitamins and minerals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawthorn berry has been deemed a true natural treasury of minerals and vitamins, containing a wide palette of vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, and C. As for minerals, the berry flaunts high levels of calcium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. The fruit is especially rich in the so-called good acids, like frolic and citric acid, oleanolic and ursolic acid, as well as cratagolic acids. Apart from these, these berries are rich in powerful antioxidants like vitexin, rutin, catechins and saponins. Other notable constituents of hawthorn berries are various phytonutrients, tannins, purines, bioflavonoids and fructose.

All of these assign different properties to hawthorn berries. It is said to be a strong astringent and vasodilator, and sometimes it could be used as a stimulant. Due to its strong content, it may be used as a mild sedative. Its diuretic and carminative properties have also been mentioned when advocating a potential role of this plant in preserving the health of digestive and gastrointestinal systems. 

Potential Hawthorn Berry Health Benefits

As mentioned, several traditional cultures have noted hawthorn’s possible influence on human health. Apart from these, modern countries and their holistic practitioners also believe in the potency of this plant. Officially, hawthorn is legally accepted as a pharmaceutical today in countries like China, Brazil, France, Hungary, Russia, Switzerland, and especially Germany, where an official branch of government (Commission E) has approved the use of this plant’s remedies as an herbal treatment.

As for the medical conditions the hawthorn berry appears to target, different practitioners mention different possible uses but they all agree on a main target – different types of heart disease. Some specific heart diseases that may be treated with hawthorn berry are said to be high blood pressure, high cholesterol (mainly LDL), angina, congestive heart failure (CHF), myocarditis, arteriosclerosis and cardiac arrhythmia, among others.

Dr. Christopher's Hawthorn Berry Heart Syrup.
Dr. Christopher’s Hawthorn Berry Heart Syrup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of these are presupposed on the fact that hawthorn berry could enhance blood circulation which could in turn positively affect these conditions at their early stage. However, such promising presumption is yet to be adequately tested and scientifically approved.

Red hawthorn berries.
While the scientific evidence is inconclusive, hawthorn berries may contain properties that could help with certain heart problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the potential health benefits of this plant in regard to heart conditions, several practices believe it to be a possible remedy for other health problems, as well. Among numerous others, perhaps the most prominent conditions include digestion problems, disturbances of the nervous systems and skin issues.

Namely, hawthorn berry could ease digestion and relieve abdominal distention, indigestion and diarrhea. Moreover, it could affect food stagnation and is even believed to be of potential help in the early stages of abdominal tumors. However, if you suffer from colitis or stomach ulcers, it is better to avoid using these berries, as they may be too aggressive for the diseased system.

As for the nervous system, hawthorn berry is believed to help with insomnia and anxiety, given that it may act as a sedative, as stated before. The plant is also considered to be a potential natural anti-depressant, since it could improve one’s mood upon consuming. Given the fact that it may positively affect blood circulation, the use of this plant in the diet may potentially enhance the distribution of oxygen to the brain, which could enhance cognitive function.

Nature's Answer Hawthorn Berry Extract.
Nature’s Answer Hawthorn Berry Extract

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the possible nourishing effect that hawthorn berry may have on the skin is the third most frequently mentioned among presupposed health benefits. It is believed to help with sores and acne, as well as with differently induced itching and frostbite. In general, different alternative practices believe that it contributes to the overall appearance of the skin.

Summary: While some studies suggest that hawthorn may have numerous health benefits, make sure to consult your doctor before using hawthorn.

Safety Warnings

Hawthorn berries on a branch.
Make sure to avoid consuming the seeds of the hawthorn berry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the plant and its berries have been deemed safe for use, it should be mentioned that the seed of the berries is considered to be harmful and that it should thus be avoided. Also, excessive use of this plant through either supplements or herbal tea could have some side effects on their own, so it would be safer to stick to the recommended dosage.

On a daily basis, this dosage ranges from about 160 to 900 milligrams taken two or three times a day. If you’re using hawthorn as herbal tea, the dosages amount to 4-5 grams of the dried berry or 1-2 grams of the dried leaves and flowers. The market also offers hawthorn berry extract, which could be taken in a dosage that reaches up to 20-30 drops diluted in some water.

These herbal remedies are marked as safe mostly because they aren’t likely to form a habit, but may cause dizziness or palpitation if used in doses larger than the recommended ones. However, children and pregnant women are advised to avoid this plant in every form, as are people who take regular doses of some medicines since it could negatively interact with them causing their effect to weaken.

Conclusion

Hawthorn berry could prove to be of immense use in one’s diet as it is believed to have positive effects on one’s overall health. Bear in mind that different types of this plant may have different health issues targeted.

Types of Hawthorn Berry and Its Potential Effects on Different Health Issues

Blossom of common hawthorn or single-seeded hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) closeup.
There are over 60 varieties of hawthorn worldwide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawthorn forms an herbal family which includes various different types of this tree and it grows in different parts of the world. It is specifically this broad scope of possible habitats that contributes to the widely branched family tree of this unique herbal gem.

Botany recognizes over sixty varieties of hawthorn tree, with some being more peculiar than the others. Depending on how broad one is in defining what qualifies as a member of the hawthorn family, up to two hundred varieties of this plant can be taken into consideration, including the hybrids that were created by deliberate (humanly achieved) or random (occurring in nature) crossbreeding. Among these herbal relatives are certain similarities and differences regarding their physical traits, characteristics of their fruit, as well as the potential use of their parts, mainly berries.

Common Traits of Different Hawthorn Species

The most common label that usually follows the hawthorn family is that of endurance. Almost all varieties of this plant have strong trees with long and hard thorns which are to protect equally resistant fruits. Hawthorn fruits are among the rare ones that can persist during the winter, which is why the plant has been acknowledged as an essential part of wildlife food chain, especially under severe conditions. The plant has been deemed so reliable that there are cases where it is being used as a stabilizer of river banks which controls the erosion of the soil.

Hawthorn has peculiar leaves of different shapes and sizes, the majority of which are ovate or oblong. They grow individually on the branches and are organized in alternate rows. Their edges may have various levels of serration. Hawthorn leaves also vary in color, though the nuances rarely go out of the color specter ranging from medium to dark green. The color changes in fall before shedding, ranging from yellow to orange and red, depending on the species.

Hawthorn tree with berries and leaves.
The leaves of hawthorn trees come in all different shapes and sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This plant is widely recognized for its mesmerizing flowers which vary in color, covering different shades of pink and even creamy color. The flower has always had such a strong popularity that the Pilgrims’ ship was famously named Mayflower precisely after it. Their beauty is only enhanced by their organization, since they grow in clusters, most of them blossoming in spring (in particular in May) and reaching their peak in midsummer.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the plant is its fruit. The hawthorn berry tree bears fruit every season, and the structure and look of the berry may also vary across species. Usually, the berries are small and bright red, although there are some that may be cream-colored or black. Given the fact that this plant belongs to the same family as apples, the berries somewhat resemble apples in shape, although usually not in size.

Their structure is often fleshy and some of them (usually the creamy colored ones) may have a huge stone in the center. When raw, the fruit is not known for its taste, although it has been widely used for jams or jellies where it has been praised for its deliciousness and sweet flavor.

Most Significant Varieties of Hawthorn Berries

Although fairly similar, it is often said that different hawthorn varieties bear just as many specifics as is necessary for a clear distinction to be possible among them. Some of the perhaps most interesting varieties among hawthorns are the following five.

Hawthorn tree covered in snow.
There are 5 main hawthorn species, spread across a vast array of environments around the planet.

1. Douglas Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)

Otherwise known as the Black Hawthorn, this variety of the hawthorn family is one of the highest types. This hawthorn berry tree can reach a height of up to 30 ft, although at first it grows slowly until it reaches 10 ft. The plant is native to the belt spreading from Alaska to California, going as wide as New Mexico.

As perhaps one of the simplest types to cultivate, this plant bears first fruits on average after the first five to nine years. Its tree is strong and solid and the berries grow in big clusters. This is one of the rare species whose berries can be safely consumed even raw, but are more commonly used boiled and as a part of jams or jellies. It is easily recognized due to its dark, deeply serrated and shiny leaves.

Usually, this particular type is mentioned in some traditional medicines as a potential remedy for heart diseases. The berries and the concoction made out of them, is believed to be a heart tonic that could strengthen the heart muscle and possibly thin the blood. The bark of this plant is considered to be of great help when dealing with venereal diseases, diarrhea or dysentery and it may also have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Chinese Hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida)

Chinese hawthorn.
Chinese hawthorn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This particular species of hawthorn got its name after its native place, which is China, more precisely Henan, Shandong, Hebei, and Shandong. In Asia, it is also referred to as Shan Zha and it is registered as one of the most frequently used herbs in Chinese traditional practices. This species may have several sub-types on its own, the most popular being Crataegus Vinatifida and Cuneata.

Its most distinguishable trait is its fruit which doesn’t necessarily resemble actual berries, but rather apples, in particular, the crab apple. It is a very popular fruit in China, used for nearly everything from candy to alcoholic beverages. In fact, the fruit has been widely known as one of the essential foods in China throughout history.

Apart from such uses, the Chinese believe that this plant can be used for making a tonic which mainly helps the digestive system. Different remedies created from this fruit are believed to stimulate appetite and promote proper digestion. Since its tonic is believed to easily soften hard masses, the plant’s products may be useful in solving food retention. Moreover, it could also have a stimulating effect on blood causing it to dissipate potential stasis.

3. Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica)

Indian hawthorn flowers.
Indian hawthorn in bloom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Famous for its nickname the “Majestic Beauty,” Indian Hawthorn grows in the form of a bush. Similarly to its Chinese sibling, it got the name after its native country – India. Apart from India, this species can be cultivated in warm areas of temperate and subtropical Asia, in particular those of Southern China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea.

This variety of hawthorn can survive in both inland and coastal areas, and are considered to be among the most enduring types of hawthorn, since they don’t depend as much on moisture but are extremely drought-tolerant.

The plant has leather-like glossy green leaves and pink star-shaped flowers. Their fruit is also an item of distinction from the rest of the hawthorn family, since its berries are ink colored, typically quite tiny and round. Apart from containing only one seed, these berries are characterized by their strong and sour astringent taste. Due to this they are almost exclusively considered inedible when they are raw, while some of them are even poisonous. Moreover, as opposed to other species Indian hawthorn starts blooming in winter and lives until early spring.

This species, in particular, has perhaps the longest reported history being used as a potential remedy for heart diseases. It owes this property to the fact that its berries contain high levels of bioflavonoids, which are the substances that are believed to dilate blood vessels, thus improving the blood flow and preserving the vessels from being damaged. The berries are considered to be a possible remedy for high blood pressure, chest pains and arrhythmia.

4. One-seed Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

Common hawthorn tree.
The common hawthorn tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generally considered to be the common hawthorn, this species usually grows in the wilderness. With smaller or bigger differences, all the traits that are assigned to the hawthorn family are valid for this particular species. It grows as a shrub or a relatively small tree, although there are cases when some of these trees reached the height of 45 ft. It has a dense crown and a sturdy, dull brown bark. Its leaves are usually long and dark brown, with a paler underside. Flowers appear in clusters and are most frequently white with red stamens.

Although widely spread, its historical reports have been closely related to Europe, mainly France and England. This species is extremely important for wildlife and their nutrition, but its red berries have been used in the human diet, as well. When dried, these berries can even serve as a substitute for coffee beans.

In terms of potential health benefits, certain traditional practices believe that remedies made from leaves, flowers and berries of this species could be helpful in treating different heart diseases, starting from cardiac insufficiency. The extract from this species’ leaves and flowers contains large amounts of antioxidant phytochemicals which is why its potential medical use may be extended to different health issues apart from problems with cardiovascular health. Some herbalists believe that it could be used for enhancing one’s memory, as well as possibly treating malaria.

5. Mexican Hawthorn (Crataegus mexicana)

Botanically also known under the Latin name Crataegus pubescens, this hawthorn species is native to Mexico, after which it got its name. It is also known under the nickname tejocote or Manzanita which is Spanish for “small apple.” It originates from the mountainous areas of Mexico and grows even in parts of Guatemala. It grows as a large shrub or a small tree with a dense crown. Its leaves are serrated, often oval and are considered to be semi-evergreen. The flowers of this species are usually white.

Jungle landscape scenic with mountains on the horizon in Chiapas, Mexico.
The Mexican hawthorn is native to the mountainous regions of Mexico and Guatemala.

 

 

 

 

 

The most peculiar trait of this species is its fruit. These berries resemble more the fruit of Chinese hawthorn, with its apple-like fruit that ripens in the late winter, right before the tree starts blooming in spring of the following year. This particular fruit is considered to be one of the most valuable fruits and it has been deeply grounded in every aspect of Mexican culture, specifically its cuisine.

Potential health enhancing uses mention its high levels of pectin, which is rich in fibers and may play a role in lowering cholesterol levels, mainly LDL. Furthermore, in traditional medicine, this species’ root infusion was said to act as a diuretic and a possible natural remedy for diarrhea. In addition, it was often mentioned in Aztec culture as a potential natural way of strengthening the muscle system.

Apart from these, various other species of hawthorn are in use throughout the world, some of them being the Russian hawthorn (Crataegus ambigua), the English hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), the Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) and various others.

What Health Benefits Could Hawthorn Berry Have?

Red cluster of hawthorn berries.
Hawthorn berries have numerous potential health benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’d like to focus on potential health benefits that this herbal wonder may have and its use as an herbal treatment in several holistic practices. Perhaps the most appraised among potential hawthorn berry health benefits seems to be related to heart health and possible treatment of heart diseases. Several studies have been done on this topic and further research is to be expected in the future.

But for now, let’s have a look at some other health benefits that this plant and its fruit could have for the human body.

A Potential Shield for Your Immunity

Hawthorn berry is often mentioned in relation to powerful antioxidants, as it is believed to possess strong antioxidant properties. Apart from potentially promoting blood circulation and reducing the threat of heart attacks and strokes, these compounds may have a significant role in fighting free radicals.

Free radicals are often connected to several diseases and these substances have a negative impact on the body in different aspects. For example, they contribute to premature aging and affect cell membranes stimulating their mutation and eventual death. Although free radicals occur even in a healthy body, when their number is increased they can lead to several serious diseases. Antioxidants seem to hunt down these compounds and participate in ejecting them from the body.

Several practices believe that the use of hawthorn berries in the diet may contribute to boosting the levels of antioxidants, which in turn are said to both prevent and fix the damage done by free radicals. Furthermore, the constituents of this plant, such as the vitamin C, may contribute to strengthening our immunity by potentially increasing the activity of the white blood cells.

Summary: While some studies implicate that immunity could be boosted with hawthorn, more evidence is needed to guarantee these claims.

Hawthorn tree berries.
Hawthorn berries are loaded with Vitamin C.

Prospective Stimulator of the Digestive System

Due to different organic compounds that the scientists have found in hawthorn berries, herbal remedies of this plant are expected to have a positive effect on digestion. Different practices claim that these compounds help the body break down nutrients and absorb them, thus possibly preventing indigestion and bloating.

Several traditional medicines (Chinese leading the way) believe that hawthorn berries could treat diarrhea and dysentery, due to the plant’s astringent properties. In addition to that, it is said to have a relaxing effect on the digestive system, thus potentially helping with the cases of abdominal pain and cramps, usually caused by indigestion.

Nature's Way Hawthorn Berries.
Nature’s Way Hawthorn Berries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moreover, hawthorn berry is said to be rich in fibers, which are supposed to help enhance the overall digestive process, as well as help deal with constipation. Chinese medicine, in particular, has claimed that this plant’s remedies may play an important role in dealing with food retention, as it is said that the compounds found in hawthorn contribute to the breakdown of food.

Particularly, hawthorn’s compound could be of immense help in the process of breaking down fats and speeding the metabolism, which could not only improve digestion, but also potentially help in losing excessive weight.

Hawthorn tree in the fall.
Hawthorn berries may possess properties that could aid the digestive system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Korea, a study was conducted focusing on the effects of fermented hawthorn vinegar and the results suggest that not only did the hawthorn compound affect the decrease in body weight, but it may have contributed to the decrease in cholesterol levels. However, as this study was conducted on animals, further research is needed in order to claim such effects on the human body, as well.

Several other practices also mention hawthorn as a potential remedy for treating different intestinal infections, such as tapeworm, and some even believe that this plant could have an important role in treating colon cancer and stomach ulcers.

Apart from these, hawthorn is said to have a stimulating effect on the appetite, so it may contribute to dealing with several eating disorders, such as anorexia. Traditional medicines specifically claim that the tea made from hawthorn leaves or berries could enhance the appetite.

Summary: While it has been suggested that digestive health may be improved with hawthorn, more studies need to be conducted to validate these claims.

Hawthorn Could Do Wonders for the Skin

The aforementioned powerful antioxidants found in this plant may also have an important role in enhancing skin conditions and contribute to the appearance of the skin. By potentially slowing down the aging process, hawthorn could contribute to keeping the skin radiant and youthful. As antioxidants are said to feed the skin, hawthorn berries may contribute to the skin glow and health.

Hawthorn tree fruit in the sun.
It has been suggested that hawthorn may be beneficial in numerous ways for the skin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since its compounds are also believed to have some anti-inflammatory properties, hawthorn could even be used as a possible treatment for different skin issues caused by inflammation. For example, some practices claim that when applied topically, hawthorn remedies could help with itching on healing wounds. Furthermore, such herbal remedies could help treat some more serious conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.

It is also claimed that some products which include this plant in different variations may help treat different wounds on the skin, like burns, acne or different sores and even potentially eliminate dark spots.

Summary: While it has been suggested that hawthorn may be able to help certain skin conditions, there is not enough evidence to guarantee these claims.

Hawthorn Supplements May Boost Your Energy

Several holistic practices suggest hawthorn berry as an important companion of a healthy, energized body. Due to the fact that it contains high levels of powerful antioxidants and that it supposedly stimulates blood circulation, this plant could help fight fatigue and boost your energy. In addition to this, Chinese medicine argues that this particular plant could help you deal with general tiredness, as well as that caused by the sudden change in blood pressure levels.

Nature's Answer Hawthorn Berry.
Nature’s Answer Hawthorn Berry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, several compounds found in hawthorn berry are believed to contribute to the distribution of oxygen throughout the body which is essential for your energy levels, but also for a healthy cognitive function and general alertness. Any hawthorn berry supplement should have these properties, which is why these supplements are believed to be a useful and easy, modern way of adding hawthorn to your diet for potential health and energy benefits.

In addition to the above stated hawthorn berry health benefits, different traditional and holistic practices suggest some other health benefits as well, which we cover in the second part of this article.

Summary: While certain studies have implicated that hawthorn may help boost energy levels, there is not enough scientific evidence to say for sure.

Hawthorn berries and a snail.
Looking for energizing foods? Hawthorn berries may be able to provide the body with a boost of energy.

Potential Hawthorn Berry Benefits for Cardiovascular Health

The primary potential health benefit of hawthorn berry that all traditional and holistic practices agree upon is its supposedly positive effect on heart health. The plant is believed to be so good for the heart that even German Commission E (the governmental branch which assesses herbal treatments) has deemed it safe for use. Hawthorn berry is said to promote blood circulation and the circulatory system and have several possible conditions targeted. Let’s take a look at some of the numerous aspects of cardiovascular health which this plant is believed to be helpful with.

May Offer Relief for Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Previous research was primarily focused on the possible effects of hawthorn berry on the congestive heart failure, which is a medical condition caused by the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to other body organs. The majority of the studies conducted have suggested that this plant may improve heart function and even potentially eliminate the effects of the lack of exercise in patients. What is more important, these studies claim that the levels of side effects which occur when treating this disease with hawthorn-based medicines have been low and insignificant, in particular with the cases of stage 1 and 2 CHF.

In addition to this, it is believed that hawthorn may alleviate symptoms of this condition, with patients reporting that they felt improvements in shortness of breath, palpitations and fatigue. There is even one study which claims that hawthorn berry extract may be used as a diuretic which could replace Captopril (a prescription heart medication which targets these symptoms) altogether when taken in doses of 900 mg per day for at least two months.

Hawthorn tree without leaves.
Although studies are too inconclusive to definitively say for sure, it has been suggested that hawthorn berries may be able to help with some symptoms of CHF.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, different organic compounds found in hawthorn berry, such as bioflavonoids, saponins, catechins and other powerful antioxidants, could have a role in preventing this medical condition, mainly because they are believed to be significant for the fight against free radicals, especially those which target the heart. Some practices go as far as suggesting that this plant and its extracts may even help patients recover from heart attacks and strokes.

However, it should be mentioned that hawthorn is to be added to the diet only along with consultation with your doctor so as to avoid possible complications and negative interaction with some of the prescribed medicines.

Summary: While it has been suggested that some symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure may be alleviated with hawthorn, more studies are needed to validate these claims.

Could Help with Atherosclerosis and Angina

Apart from its possible role in treating CHF, hawthorn and its berries may contribute to alleviating the symptoms of atherosclerosis and consequently chest pain or angina. Atherosclerosis is a medical condition known as the “hardening of the arteries” which occurs when plaque is formed in the blood vessels. Such plaque buildups block the healthy blood flow in the arteries which may lead to a heart attack or stroke.

In less serious cases, such blockage in the vessels can lead to angina, an issue which occurs when the heart doesn’t get enough blood. Traditional medicines suggest that hawthorn and its constituents may alleviate pain caused by this condition, due to the vast presence of antioxidants which could help reduce the aforementioned blockage in the blood vessels.

Even modern science seems to be open to the use of hawthorn for the treatment of these conditions. A study was conveyed in which patients were given 180 mg per day of hawthorn berry extract (a combination of hawthorn berry, leaf and flower). The researchers claim that the use of hawthorn could considerably improve the blood flow and reduce chest pain.

The University of Maryland has reported that hawthorn is rich with different compounds which are good for the heart, such as flavonoids, rutin, epicatechin, vitexin, catechin, proanthocyanidins, quercetin and hyperoside. They believe that these compounds could dilate blood vessels along with preventing the damage of any blockage buildup.

Hawthorn berry closeup.
Hawthorn berries contain flavonoids and other properties that may help improve cardiovascular health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, a research published in The Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge advocates the potential role that hawthorn may have in strengthening the heart muscle and its resistance to the lack of oxygen. A hawthorn supplement could also stimulate the vagus nerve which is responsible for the cardiac muscles along with those of the lungs and the digestive tract.

Summary: While some studies suggest that atherosclerosis and angina could be helped with hawthorn, more evidence is needed to form a consensus on these claims.

Might Improve Blood Circulation and Blood Pressure

By logical extension, such possible effects could perhaps be extended to some further positive hawthorn berry benefits for the cardiovascular system. Hawthorn and its different forms are said to enhance blood circulation and lower blood pressure. Numerous practices claim that it could increase the amount of blood which is pumped out of the heart during its contractions.

Bio Nutrition Blood Pressure Wellness.
Bio Nutrition Blood Pressure Wellness with Hawthorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Different previous studies suggest that hawthorn may have a relaxing effect on the arteries, thus potentially improving blood circulation. The presence of hawthorn constituents in the body have been claimed to dilate blood vessels, especially the coronary arteries. In this way, hawthorn could be a helpful remedy for treating poor circulation brought about by either aging arteries or their hardening.

Scientists often mention that hawthorn contains high levels of phytonutrients called anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins which have been previously connected with the potential strengthening of the blood vessels’ walls. These compounds are two of a large number of powerful antioxidants detected in hawthorn and its extracts.

Moreover, hawthorn could participate in normalizing the levels of blood pressure. Although the previous studies were all conducted on animals exclusively, scientists claim that hawthorn berry supplements and extracts are safe to use even along with some prescription medications for treating hypertension. One of the previously mentioned phytonutrients – proanthocyanidin – is believed to be especially creditable for such effect.

Hawthorn berries.
Certain properties of the hawthorn berry may be able to help normalize blood pressure levels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A study conducted in 2006 suggests that a hawthorn berry supplement could help reduce diastolic blood pressure in type 2 diabetes patients. The same effect was reported from a study at the Readings University, UK but this time using the hawthorn berry extract in combination with magnesium.

In addition, hawthorn and its variations may help normalize the heart rhythm and could even serve as a beta-blocking and Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. ACE is said to constrict the blood vessels, which in turn narrows the threat of hypertension. Flavonoids found in hawthorn berry are said to contribute to the regulation of ACE’s effect.

Summary: While it has been suggested that cardiovascular health could be aided with hawthorn, not enough scientific evidence has surfaced to validate these claims.

May Help Lower High Cholesterol

Hawthorn berry may also have a positive effect on cholesterol levels, especially LDL (low-density lipoprotein, also known as the “bad cholesterol”). Research suggests that a hawthorn berry tincture could eliminate LDL from the bloodstream and liver. Moreover, not only could it reduce the existing levels of LDL, it is also claimed to decrease the production of such unwanted cholesterol.

One particular study reports that there was a significant decrease of cholesterol in rats which were given a hawthorn supplement. According to them, a decrease of 23% in total cholesterol, 22% in triglycerides and also an increase of activity in cholesterol clearance through bile was noted during this experiment.

Another study in Australia reported that during eight weeks the patients who suffer from extreme levels of excessive lipids in the blood showed amazing results when given the hawthorn fruits. Scientists claim that they observed a decrease in LDL cholesterol levels and an increase in the levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein), which is deemed the “good cholesterol.”

Hawthorn berry tree.
While there is not enough evidence to form a consensus, some studies suggest that hawthorn berries have the potential of lowering “bad” cholesterol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apart from this, there are indications that hawthorn berry could affect the accumulation of fats in the liver and aorta by reducing it, along with potentially lowering the levels of triglycerides in the blood. All of this may eventually contribute to a lower risk of heart failure and other diseases.

Summary: Some studies suggest that hawthorn may help lower “bad” cholesterol, although more extensive studies need to be conducted to conclusively validate these claims.

Conclusion

All of these suggest that hawthorn berry could improve one’s cardiovascular health, although this should be taken with precaution. Further research on people is to be expected before these benefits can be definitively claimed, but recent studies certainly provide some hope for the future use of hawthorn berry.

Some Additional Health Benefits that Hawthorn Could Have

Let’s take a look at some further possible uses of hawthorn berry and the potential health benefits it could offer.

May Help with Anxiety and Stress

Some traditional medicines believe that hawthorn berries could treat several psychological conditions, such as stress, anxiety or depression. This belief mainly stems from the presupposed relaxing effect that is generally assigned to hawthorn. Therefore, this herb is believed to relax the nervous system, as well, and thus help reduce stress and frustration, as well as restlessness and nervous palpitations.

Cluster of hawthorn berries.
Interestingly enough, different cultures have nicknamed the hawthorn berry the “cure to a broken heart,” referring to its potential for helping with anxiety and stress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Different cultures refer to it as the “cure for a broken heart” which scientists claim is connected to the hormonal levels. According to them, hawthorn and its constituents may have a positive influence on the levels of hormones and enzymes. Precisely because of this, many traditional cultures may have considered it to be a mood improver and cherished the value of hawthorn herbal tea.

Furthermore, a study which took place in the UK and focused on the effects of hawthorn on hypertension also noted that the use of this herb could be connected to the decrease in anxiety levels in patients. Scientists believe that this is connected with the supposed effect which this plant’s constituents could have on blood circulations, since the main symptoms of anxiety, such as chest tightness and heart palpitations, are directly connected to the heart rate, blood circulation and blood pressure.

Summary: While it has been suggested that certain symptoms of anxiety and stress may be alleviated through hawthorn treatments, more scientific evidence needs to be compiled to validate these claims.

Could Help Relieve Tension and Pain

These conditions can be connected with other previously mentioned ones, especially anxiety and chest pain. As stated in those segments, hawthorn and its constituents could be used to relieve tension and pain and are often recommended as natural alternatives for painkillers or sedative. Needless to say, this herb cannot help relieve extreme pain, which should always be medically addressed, but could have some mild effect on such states.

The herb is believed to promote blood circulation, which in turn adds to the possible relief of pain. Some practitioners even claim that hawthorn berry supplements and extracts could relax excessive nerve stimulation, thus potentially contributing to pain and tension relief.

In August 2010, the Pharmaceutical Bulletin journal published a study which indicates that hawthorn fruit and seeds could be used to produce sedatives. According to the published article, between 10 and 1,000 mg of hawthorn pulp and seed extracts showed some opiate-like calming effects around the central nervous system during their experiment. However, further studies are yet to determine whether hawthorn could be used in such way.

Summary: While it has been suggested that hawthorn may help relieve tension in pain, more scientific evidence is needed to validate these claims.

Hawthorn tree covered in snow.
Some have suggested that hawthorn berries may have the potential to relax tensions within the nervous system.

May Help with Insomnia

Insomnia is one of the today’s most frequent disorders. However, although many don’t consider is as serious a state as some other medical conditions, it can lead to several more severe health problems, starting from the weakening of the immune system and often leading to anxiety and depression.

While some studies claim that up to 20% of patients who took hawthorn reported insomnia as a side effect of this herb and its remedies, there are other practitioners and medicines who claim that this herb could be used as a treatment for insomnia. In liquefied form, the herb is said to invoke sleep and relax nerves. Practitioners often recommend using hawthorn leaves and twigs for making natural remedies which could treat insomnia.

Summary: While some studies may suggest that insomnia could be helped with hawthorn, there is not enough evidence to know for sure.

May Provide Relief for Menstrual and Menopausal Symptoms

Traditional medicines, especially Chinese, often mention hawthorn tea as a natural remedy that could alleviate some menstrual symptoms, such as abdominal pain and cramps. Apart from this, hawthorn is said to contain bioflavonoids which could help strengthen capillaries and even prevent heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia). A hawthorn decoction may be useful for women who suffer from extreme vaginal discharges.

Furthermore, hawthorn berry could also be a useful remedy for women entering menopause whose symptoms are too severe. This herb could help eliminate debility, hot flushes or even night sweats. What is even more, it could help deal with erratic menstrual cycle and clots and spotting appearing during the cycle. Chinese medicine believes that hawthorn berry could be of help for preserving ovaries by potentially stimulating blood circulation in the tissues of these organs. The fruit could also improve the function of aging ovaries.

Summary: It has been suggested that hawthorn may offer some relief for menstrual and menopausal symptoms, but there is not sufficient evidence to guarantee these claims.

Final Words and Warnings

Hawthorn berry closeup.
One should always consult with a medical professional before using hawthorn medicinally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hawthorn berry appears to be a potent herbal treatment which could help people deal with different diseases and disorders and their symptoms. However, you should be careful with the use of this herb, especially when distinguishing between species, since some of them could have more negative than positive effects.

Furthermore, some side effects that may occur when adding hawthorn to the diet have often been mentioned, although they are said to be mild to moderate. Some of them could be the sweating, fatigue, nausea or dizziness or even shortness of breath, allergic reactions, heart irregularities and mood swings. Therefore, the use of this plant’s remedies is to be supervised by a professional, so make sure you consult your doctor about it.

*Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.