Hawthorn: benefits, side effects and drugs

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A member of the rose family, hawthorn ( Crataegus monogyna ) is a thorny tree or shrub native to temperate regions of Europe, North America, and North Asia. Although the small, sweet red berries ("berries") are used in jams, jellies, candies, and wines, all parts of the plant (leaves, flowers, berries, stems, and even bark) have long been used in medicine. herbal. as a digestive, renal and sedative. It is also known as a tonic for treating heart disease and for strengthening the aging heart, and its use dates back to the 1st century.

During the Middle Ages, hawthorn was used to treat dropsy, a condition now called congestive heart failure. The first hawthorn study , published in 1896, reported 43 patients with various forms of heart disease who were treated with hawthorn with promising results .

Widely available in many forms as a dietary supplement, this ancient medicinal plant remains popular today for its effects on heart health, primarily:

  • Angina, chest discomfort, or pain that occurs when the heart does not get enough oxygen
  • Atherosclerosis , a chronic, progressive disease that causes plaque to build up in the arteries.
  • Congestive heart failure , a progressive condition that affects the pumping ability of the heart muscle.
  • High blood pressure , when the force of blood pressure against the walls of the blood vessels is constantly too high.

Hawthorn leaves, flowers, and berries contain high amounts of phytonutrients (antioxidants) called oligomeric proanthocyanidins and flavonoids, which are believed to be responsible for its pharmacological effects.

What is hawthorn?

Hawthorn is a thorny tree or shrub in the rose family. The leaves, flowers, berries, stems, and even the bark of the plant are often used in herbal medicine to treat heart disease, digestive problems, and more.

Does hawthorn have any benefit?

According to the Memorial Cancer Center report. Sloan Kettering, scientists believe that hawthorn benefits the heart by causing the smooth muscle that lines the coronary arteries to expand, thereby increasing blood flow to the heart. Hawthorn is also believed to increase heart muscle contraction, heart rate, nerve transmission, and heart muscle irritability .

Chronic heart failure

Many, but not all, studies show the benefits of hawthorn when used in this way. Hawthorn may help control symptoms and improve physiological outcomes when used as a maintenance treatment for chronic heart failure, according to a 2008 review of 14 studies involving a total of 855 chronic heart failure patients. The results of the review show that hawthorn treatment can improve exercise tolerance and improve symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath. The researchers concluded that "hawthorn extract as an adjunct treatment for chronic heart failure provides significant benefits in symptom control and physiological outcomes. "

However, a long-term study completed in 2009 did not confirm these benefits. In this study, 120 heart failure patients were randomly assigned to receive 450 milligrams of hawthorn twice a day or a placebo for six months. Hawthorn does not provide any symptomatic or functional benefits when used in combination with standard medical therapy .

High blood pressure

Research on hawthorn is in conflict with its efficacy in lowering high blood pressure. In a pilot study published in 2002, 38 volunteers with mild hypertension received daily supplements of 600 milligrams of magnesium, 500 milligrams of hawthorn extract, a combination of magnesium and hawthorn, or a placebo. At 10 weeks, 19 subjects taking hawthorn extract had a greater reduction in resting diastolic blood pressure than other study participants. Additionally, participants who took hawthorn were found to have lower levels of anxiety .

In a study published in 2006, scientists found that taking 1,200 milligrams of hawthorn extract daily helped lower blood pressure in people taking prescription drugs for type 2 diabetes .

However, a more recent study published in 2012 found that taking 1,000, 1,500, or 2,500 mg of hawthorn extract twice a day for three and a half days did not affect blood pressure in people with hypertension .

Other heart diseases

Hawthorn has actually helped with chest pain (angina) in patients with congestive heart failure. The evidence for atherosclerosis , the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries, is very preliminary: Several animal studies , including one published in 2018, suggest that hawthorn may help lower blood fat levels (including cholesterol ). ) and prevent atherosclerosis. More research is needed to confirm these benefits .

Hawthorn is approved for the treatment of congestive heart failure by the German commission E, a commission of experts that evaluates medicinal herbs. However, given the extremely serious nature of heart disease, under no circumstances should you attempt to treat heart disease yourself with hawthorn (or any other herbal remedies). Be sure to check with your doctor if you plan to use hawthorn in the treatment of heart disease.

Read on to learn about the many benefits of barbed ash .

Get Drug Information / Anastasia Tretyak

Selection, preparation and storage

Fresh hawthorn can be prepared as an infusion , a concentrated liquid herbal extract, and an infusion that is primarily tea. In his book New Healing Herbs, herbalist Michael Castleman advises taking a teaspoon of homemade tincture every morning and evening for several weeks. To prepare the infusion, use two teaspoons of chopped leaves or fruits in a glass of boiling water and leave it for 20 minutes; drink up to two cups a day .

The most widely studied hawthorn extract, WS 1442, is standardized for oligomeric procyanidins at 17 to 20 percent and can be purchased commercially, including tablets, capsules, and tinctures .

The most effective dose is currently unknown. Recommended doses range from 160 to 1800 milligrams per day in two to three doses for three to 24 weeks, but it is believed that greater therapeutic efficacy is achieved through higher doses. The minimum effective dose for add-on therapy for mild congestive heart failure is 300 milligrams of the standardized extract per day. Clinical trials in patients with class II and III congestive heart failure have shown 900 milligrams of hawthorn extract per day to be safe, but no better than placebo .

Hawthorn is known to work slowly, so a test of at least four to eight weeks should be done to determine if it will benefit you.

Possible side effects.

Hawthorn is generally considered safe for short-term use at recommended doses (up to 16 weeks). In studies, it has not caused significant side effects. The most common side effects are dizziness and dizziness, although less often they can cause nausea and other intestinal symptoms, fatigue, headache, palpitations, sedation, nosebleeds, and sweating. Overdose can cause a drop in blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias .

Hawthorn can increase the effectiveness of some heart medications and interfere with others. Only take it under the supervision of a doctor if you have been prescribed blood pressure medication or lanoxin (digoxin), and do not take it with other herbs or supplements that have cardiac effects .

Please note that additives have not been tested for safety and due to the fact that food additives are largely unregulated, some products may differ in content from what is stated on the product label. Also note that the safety of supplements for pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and people with medical conditions or taking medications has not been established. If you plan to use hawthorn, talk to your healthcare professional first.

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