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Supplements

hawthorn

What Is It?
Health Benefits
Forms
Dosage Information
Guidelines for Use
General Interaction
Possible Side Effects
Cautions
References 
Evidence Based Rating Scale
 

What Is It?

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha), a rose family member popularly planted along hedges to deter trespassers with its prickly branches, has heart-healthy properties that ancient Greeks and Native Americans recognized centuries ago. Its modern reputation as a healing agent dates to Victorian times, when an Irish physician's secret heart formula was ultimately revealed to contain a tincture made from the bright red berries.

Hawthorn is now a frequently prescribed heart remedy in Europe. A potent antioxidant, it appears to work by opening up blood vessels that feed the heart, thus increasing this muscle's energy supply and enhancing its pumping power. It also helps to relieve mild or stable angina (chest pain), control high blood pressure, strengthen heart function, and reinforce a normal heartbeat.

Hawthorn extracts should be standardized to contain at least 1.8% vitexin, also known as vitexin-2"-rhamnoside. This is the herb's primary active ingredient.

Health Benefits

Hawthorn may assist in helping strengthen the heart muscle and its blood flow by dilating the coronary arteries. This may help to reduce feelings of tightness in the chest and reducing blood pressure. It may also help to induce a regular heart rhythm and acting as a beta-blocking and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor (1). Hawthorn is particularly helpful in treating heart conditions associated with aging. Specifically hawthorn may help to:

·      Control high blood pressure. A study of 92 men and women diagnosed with primary mild hypertension were administered a hawthorn flower extract or placebo for four months. Data was collected on blood pressure readings monthly. At the end of the study the researchers concluded that the group receiving the hawthorn flower extract demonstrated a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure after three months of treatment (2).

·      Prevent atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is caused by when low density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol is oxidized causing artery clogging plaques. These plaques then become particularly dangerous as they build up in the coronary arteries because they narrow the passageway and ultimately affect the amount of blood flow to the heart. This can further lead to complications such as heart attack and stroke. Scientists are currently investigating hawthorn’s bioactive compounds as a substance that can prevent the oxidation of “bad” cholesterol in the body (3). More research is needed to determine the potential preventative applications of this supplement.

·      Treat Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). A study of 102 patients diagnosed with mild cardiac insufficiency showed that a preparation of hawthorn improved scores on 7 measures of cardiac insufficiency (4). The study however did not demonstrate a more significant improvement than that of conventional drug treatment. Other studies have shown that supplementing your diet with hawthorn may improve symptoms of heart failure such as dyspnea, fatigue and physical capacity (5,6). More research is needed to clarify hawthorn’s possible effects in the treatment of CHF.

·      Improve outcomes after heart attack and stroke. Early studies conducted on mice, rats and gerbils suggest that administering hawthorn may reduce the size of the attack, and prevent heart cell loss after experimentally induced heart attack or stroke (7-9).

·      Prevent liver disease. Scientists are also beginning to research the effects of hawthorn on the inflammation that is a hallmark of liver disease. Preliminary animal and cell culture study results are promising, however more research is needed to determine if this therapy is viable for humans (10).

·      Treat anxiety. Anxiousness, nervousness, and sleeplessness may respond to supplementation with hawthorn. Further study is needed to determine the appropriate dosage, length of treatment, and efficacy across populations before recommending this as a primary treatment for anxiety.

Forms

  • tincture
  • tablet
  • powder
  • dried herb/tea
  • capsule

Dosage Information

·         For angina: Take 100-250 mg standardized extract of leaf/flower combination 3 times a day; or 1-2 ml (1/4 to 1/2 tsp.) liquid extract 3 times a day.

·         For arrhythmia: Take 100-250 mg 3 times a day.

·         For congestive heart failure: Take 100-250 mg standardized extract of leaf/flower combination 3 times a day; or 1-2 ml (1/4 to 1/2 tsp.) liquid extract 3 times a day.

·         For heart disease prevention: Take 100-250 mg standardized extract of leaf/flower combination 3 times a day; or 1-2 ml (1/4 to 1/2 tsp.) liquid extract 3 times a day.

·         For high blood pressure: Take 100-250 mg 3 times a day.

Be sure to check our Dosage Recommendations Chart for Hawthorn, which lists therapeutic dosages for specific ailments at a glance.

Guidelines For Use

·  Hawthorn may interfere with the action of other common conventional medications prescribed for heart failure (12). Please consult your doctor before beginning any new supplement routine.

·  The quality and amount of bioactive compounds contained in hawthorn supplements can vary by vendor. Ensure that you buy your supplements from a reputable dealer, and that the extract concentrations are specified on the label.

General Interaction

  • If you take prescription heart medications, consult your doctor before taking this herb. Dosages of prescription medications may need to be lowered or altered in some other way when taken along with hawthorn. Never stop taking a prescription heart medication (or alter the dosage) without consulting your doctor.
  • The effect of the following classes of drugs may be dangerously increased by hawthorn: antihypertensives; calcium channel blockers (including amlodipine, diltiazem, verapamil); beta blockers (including atenolol, metoprolol, propranolol); ACE inhibitors (including benazepril, enalapril, fosinopril); digitalis drugs and cardiac glycosides (including digitoxin, digoxin); and nitrates (including amyl nitrate, nitroglycerin, sildenafil citrate, isosorbide mononitrate, and dinitrate).

          Note: For information on interactions with specific generic drugs, see our WholeHealthMD Drug/Nutrient Interactions Chart.

Possible Side Effects

  • The effect of the following classes of drugs may be dangerously increased by hawthorn: antihypertensives; calcium channel blockers (including amlodipine, diltiazem, verapamil); beta blockers (including atenolol, metoprolol, propranolol); ACE inhibitors (including benazepril, enalapril, fosinopril); digitalis drugs and cardiac glycosides (including digitoxin, digoxin); and nitrates (including amyl nitrate, nitroglycerin, sildenafil citrate, isosorbide mononitrate, and dinitrate). Please consult your physician is you are currently taking medication for heart disease before starting treatment with hawthorn.
  • Other common side effects experienced by those supplementing their diet with hawthorn include nausea, dizziness, fatigue and sweating. If any of these conditions develops or worsens while taking hawthorn, consult your doctor regarding adjusting your dosage.

Cautions

  • Because of hawthorn's strength and its effects on such a vital organ as the heart, consult your doctor before taking this herb. It's best not to take it if you already have low blood pressure. And don't expect hawthorn to help stop an acute attack of angina; it isn't capable of doing this.
  • Hawthorn is generally recognized as safe, although such side effects as nausea, sweating, fatigue, and rashes do develop on occasion. The herb can also drastically lower blood pressure and cause such symptoms as dizziness and fainting, even in people who have normal blood pressure and do not suffer from heart disease. Stop taking hawthorn and consult your doctor if any of these reactions occur.

References

  1. Chang WT, Dao J, Shao ZH. Hawthorn: potential roles in cardiovascular disease. Am J Chin Med. 2005;33(1):1-10.
  2. Asgary S, Naderi GH, Sadeghi M, Kelishadi R, Amiri M. Antihypertensive effect of Iranian Crataegus curvisepala Lind.: a randomized, double-blind study. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 2004;30(5-6):221-5.
  3. Quettier-Deleu C, Voiselle G, Fruchart JC, Duriez P, Teissier E, Bailleul F, Vasseur J, Trotin F. Hawthorn extracts inhibit LDL oxidation. Pharmazie. 2003 Aug;58(8):577-81.
  4. Schroder D, Weiser M, Klein P. Efficacy of a homeopathic Crataegus preparation compared with usual therapy for mild (NYHA II) cardiac insufficiency: results of an observational cohort study. Eur J Heart Fail. 2000 Jun;5(3):319-26.
  5. Pittler MH, Schmidt K, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure: meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Med. 2003 Jun 1;114(8):665-74.
  6. No authors listed. Even in advanced heart failure, hawthorn improves physical capacity.MMW Fortschr Med. 2003 Jan 16;145(1-2):52.
  7. Veveris M, Koch E, Chatterjee SS. Crataegus special extract WS 1442 improves cardiac function and reduces infarct size in a rat model of prolonged coronary ischemia and reperfusion. Life Sci. 2004 Feb 27;74(15):1945-55.
  8. Jayalakshmi R, Niranjali Devaraj S. Cardioprotective effect of tincture of Crataegus on isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction in rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2004 Jul;56(7):921-6.
  9. Zhang DL, Zhang YT, Yin JJ, Zhao BL. Oral administration of Crataegus flavonoids protects against ischemia/reperfusion brain damage in gerbils. J Neurochem. 2004 Jul;90(1):211-9.
  10. Kao ES, Wang CJ, Lin WL, Yin YF, Wang CP, Tseng TH. Anti-inflammatory potential of flavonoid contents from dried fruit of Crataegus pinnatifida in vitro and in vivo. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Jan 26;53(2):430-6.
  11. Alonso Osorio MJ. States of nervousness. Useful medicinal plants. Rev Enferm. 2004 Mar;27(3):8-12.
  12. Tankanow R, Tamer HR, Streetman DS, Smith SG, Welton JL, Annesley T, Aaronson KD, Bleske BE. Interaction study between digoxin and a preparation of hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha). J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 Jun;43(6):637-42.

Evidence Based Rating Scale 

The Evidence Based Rating Scale is a tool that helps consumers translate the findings of medical research studies with what our clinical advisors have found to be efficacious in their personal practice. This tool is meant to simplify which supplements and therapies demonstrate promise in the treatment of certain conditions. This scale does not take into account any possible interactions with any medication/ condition/ or therapy which you may be currently undertaking. It is therefore advisable to ask your doctor before starting any new treatment regimen.

Condition

Rating

Explanation

 A Warning  

 

WholeHealthMD recommends use of this supplement only under the guidance of a licensed clinician.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date Published: 04/18/2005

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