By Dori Cranmore RN, Holistic Health Practitioner
Hawthorn is known as the ‘heart herb’ for its many benefits as a heart tonic. Traditional use of hawthorn berries has been confirmed by German studies to strengthen and normalize the heartbeat, prevent and reduce heart arrhythmias and guard the heart against oxygen deficiency. There is research to suggest that hawthorn might also be effective when used in the treatment of mild-to-moderate heart failure.
Hawthorn (Crataegus species) has been used to treat heart disease as far back as the 1st century. In the early 1800’s, American doctors were using it to treat circulatory disorders and respiratory illnesses.
The healing effects of Hawthorn
Hawthorn has been known to strengthen and regulate the heartbeat. In addition, hawthorn has been used as a natural remedy for blood pressure regulation because not only can it help lower blood pressure by decreasing heart output and enlarging blood vessels, but it can raise low pressure in cases of a weakened heart muscle. It’s good in the treatment of damaged heart muscle in old age, with inflammation of the heart muscle, has a beneficial effect in the treatment of obstructive blood vessels and is a good natural remedy for angina pectoris. In other words, Hawthorn has a beneficial effect on all heart disease. Hawthorn also has a positive effect on calming the nervous system. Studies note that it may take 6-12 weeks before improvement is noticed.
Hawthorn berries owe much of their beneficial action to high bioflavonoid content, mostly rutin and quercitin. These dilate and relax arteries and can enhance blood circulation to the heart muscles and reduce symptoms of angina. These bioflavonoids are also powerful antioxidants which can help strengthen blood vessel walls and decrease and prevent oxidative damage. Antioxidants are substances that destroy free radicals, which are compounds in the body that damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA and even cause cell death. Scientists believe free radicals contribute to the aging process (such as wrinkling), as well as the development of a number of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants in hawthorn may help stop some of the damage from free radicals.
Heart disease is very serious, and you should never try to self-treat with hawthorn. Ask your health care practitioner if hawthorn is right for you.
Side effects of Hawthorn are very rare, but can include headache, nausea, and palpitations (a feeling of a racing heart).
Dori Cranmore RN is the owner of All About Herbs, Inc in Wasilla, AK. This information is intended for educational purposes only.