So, what exactly are
hawthorn berries and how can they benefit you?
Hawthorn berries, or “haws” as they’re often called,
are used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.
More importantly, they’re loaded with bioflavonoids,
proanthocyanidins and other antioxidants, making
hawthorn particularly effective for cardiovascular
care. At one time, hawthorn was referred to as the
“bread and cheese tree.” Since the flowers, berries
and leaves were all edible, it was a lifesaver
during famines. Also, known as food for the heart,
these powerful little berries can do wonders for
cardiovascular health. In Europe, thousands of
doctors prescribe hawthorn to prevent cardiovascular
disease. Today, hawthorn is an official drug in
Brazil, China, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany,
Hungary, Russia and Switzerland.
Hawthorn is ideal for those who have a family
history of heart disease. When used in conjunction
with a healthy diet and stress management, hawthorn
is an effective long-term treatment for
cardiovascular health. Additionally, it is not habit
forming, accumulative or toxic.
Heart failure is a condition whereby the heart is
unable to pump enough blood to other organs in the
body. Hawthorn has been extensively studied in
people with heart failure, showing positive results.
Studies published in Pharmacognosy Review
suggest that hawthorn berries significantly improves
heart function. In fact, the low/negligible
incidence of side effects experienced by patients
indicate that hawthorn is particularly useful in
treating stage I and II heart failure.
American Family Physician suggests that
hawthorn can enhance a person’s ability to exercise
following heart failure. It can also improve
symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath.
According to one study, taking hawthorn extract (900
milligrams a day for two months) was as effective as
low doses of captopril. Captopril is a prescription
heart medication that improves symptoms of heart
A large study found
that hawthorn was effective in treating 952 people
with heart failure suggests the University of
Maryland. The study compared treating heart failure
with conventional drugs to hawthorn alone, and in
addition to taking hawthorn with prescription drugs.
After two years, participants who took hawthorn
supplementation had decreased symptoms of heart
failure. Palpitations, breathing problems and
fatigue had significantly improved when taking
hawthorn alone or with other drugs.
Heart failure is a
serious condition, and should never be self-treated
with hawthorn. Before taking hawthorn, consult with
your doctor first.
Hawthorn may help combat angina, caused by low blood
flow to the heart. Research published in The
Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge
suggests that hawthorn dilates coronary blood
vessels and improves blood flow. In addition, it
strengthens heart muscles and helps to rid the body
of excess salt and water.
High blood pressure
Hawthorn berries may also be useful for controlling
blood pressure. A pilot study from Readings
University in the UK set out to investigate the
hypotensive potential of hawthorn extract and
magnesium. Participants were assigned a daily
supplement of either 600 milligrams, 500 milligrams
hawthorn extract, a combination of both or a
placebo. At week 10, researchers found a reduction
in the resting diastolic blood pressure in the
participants who were assigned the hawthorn extract.
In addition to the antioxidants eliminating
dangerous toxins from the body, the vitamin C in
hawthorn berries are also boosting the activity of
your white blood cells to increase your overall
In many traditional medicines, hawthorn berries are
used for certain psychological conditions, including
stress, anxiety and even depression. During the
pilot study conducted in the UK, which evaluated
hawthorn for hypertension, a trend towards a
reduction in anxiety was observed in those taking
hawthorn compared with the other groups taking
a placebo. Hawthorn may have an impact on
hormonal levels, which would explain why so many
cultures of the past believed it was the cure “for a
The many organic compounds found in hawthorn
interact with gut flora to improve digestion.
Additionally, the fiber in hawthorn improves the
digestive process, helping with constipation,
bloating and cramping.
Apart from improving nutrient uptake and eliminating
constipation, it’s also suggested that hawthorn may
help eliminate intestinal infections like tapeworms.
Eczema and psoriasis
You may even apply
hawthorn berry solution topically to the skin. Some
of the organic compounds have anti-inflammatory
properties. Therefore, hawthorn may reduce itching
on healing wounds or from other skin conditions such
as eczema or psoriasis.
Research shows that hawthorn may lower LDL (“bad”)
cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. In an
eight-week Australian study, patients with abnormal
amounts of lipids in the blood were treated with
hawthorn fruit. The study showed that hawthorn
berries simultaneously increased serum levels of HDL
cholesterol and decreased LDL cholesterol. By doing
so, hawthorn may reduce the risk of cardiovascular
Many studies conclude that hawthorn can expand the
coronary blood vessels, which allows for more blood
to circulate through the body. That means a higher
level of energy or alertness. When the body is
properly oxygenated, cognitive skills improve,
energy levels rise and metabolism can work at
Hawthorn berries contain active compounds with
antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances
that scavenge free radicals, which alter cell
membranes, hinder DNA and cause cell death. Free
radicals contribute to premature aging and many
other health problems, including heart disease.
Antioxidants found in hawthorn counteract free
radicals and may reduce or prevent some of the
damage they cause.
Potential side effects
Although modern drugs
are effective in preventing cardiovascular
disorders, their use is often limited due to their
side effects. Most of the adverse effects from using
hawthorn berries are mild to moderate.
Before adding hawthorn
to your diet, speak with your doctor.