Hawthorn, a flowering shrub of the genus Crataegus, has been used to treat cardiovascular disease for thousands of years. The Greek herbalist, Dioscorides, used Hawthorn medicinally as early as the first century, and many traditional cultures have maintained a rich deep respect of Hawthorn’s ability to affect cardiovascular health and enhance vitality of the entire body. Hawthorn’s pink and white flowers blossom into a bright red fruit (not unlike the color of the heart and the blood it pumps throughout the body), and together with the leaves and flowers, these berries provide numerous cardiac benefits. Modern research has isolated several of the components of Hawthorn, notably the oligomeric procyanidins and other flavonoids, and extracted them to use in modern cardiology practices.
Recent research has demonstrated that Hawthorn can:
- Slow the progression of early stage congestive heart failure
- Improve cholesterol levels
- Reduce diastolic blood pressure
- Cause significant improvement in angina pectoris (chest pain)
- Decrease cardiac preload in healthy subjects
- Reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death
- Improve exercise tolerance and reduce subjective symptoms in NYHA stage III heart failure
- Improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to the heart muscle
- Protect the heart during times of oxygen loss
- Help recover strength in the heart muscle following a heart attack
Talk to your naturopathic doctor about incorporating Hawthorn into a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Written by Kaitlyn Pote, NCNM Naturopathic Medicine Program. Edited by Dr. Elise Schroeder
Brown, Dr. Donald J., Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health, Prima Publishing. 1996.
Walker AF, Marakis G, Simpson E, et al. Hypotensive effects of hawthorn for patients with diabetes taking prescription drugs: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Gen.Pract 2006;56:437-43
Hawthorn. Natural Medicines Database. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/references.aspx?productid=527