Hawthorn berry benefits

Fortify Your Heart Health With Hawthorn
Hawthorn is a spiny, small tree or bush with white flowers and red berries (haws), each containing one to three nuts, depending on the species. Hybridization is common among individual species, making them difficult to identify. Hawthorn is a member of the rose family and is found in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. It can reach heights of 25-30 ft and is used as a hedge. The flowers grow in clusters and bloom from April to June, and the deciduous leaves are divided into three, four, or five lobes.

The use of hawthorn can be dated back to Dioscorides in the first century CE. Uses for the herb have included high and low blood pressure, tachycardia, arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, and angina pectoris. Hawthorn is also purported to have spasmolytic and sedative effects. Native Americans used hawthorn as a diuretic for kidney and bladder disorders and to treat stomachaches, stimulate appetite, and improve circulation. The flowers and berries have astringent properties and can be used to treat sore throats in the form of haw jelly or haw marmalade.

Today, hawthorn is promoted for the treatment of heart failure, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, angina pectoris, Buerger's disease, paroxysmal tachycardia, heart valve murmurs, sore throat, skin sores, diarrhea, and abdominal distention. Hawthorn is stated to possess cardiotonic, coronary vasodilator, and hypotensive properties. Traditionally, it is used for cardiac failure, myocardial weakness, paroxysmal tachycardia, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and Buerger's disease.
A typical therapeutic dose of extract, standardized to contain 1.8% vitexin-4 rhamnoside, is 100-250 mg three times daily. A standardized extract containing 18% procyanidolic oligomers (oligomeric procyanidns) is dosed at 250-500 mg daily.
Hawthorn extracts purportedly dilate coronary blood vessels, decrease blood pressure, increase myocardial contractility, and lower serum cholesterol. Benefits have been demonstrated in patients with heart failure. In patients with stage II New York Heart Association (NYHA) heart failure, doses of 160-900 mg/day of the aqueous-alcoholic extract for up to 56 days showed an increase in exercise tolerance, decrease in rate/pressure product, and increased ejection fraction. Degenring and colleagues, in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, studied a standardized extract of fresh Crataegus berries (Crataegisan®) for the treatment of patients with NYHA II heart failure. Using an intent-to-treat analysis, these investigators found that the hawthorn preparation significantly increased exercise tolerance as compared to placebo, but subjective symptoms of heart failure were unchanged.
In a analysis of 13 randomized trials of hawthorn extract in the treatment of heart failure, investigators noted that hawthorn produced a statistically significant increase in exercise tolerance over placebo. In addition, symptoms such as dyspnea and fatigue improved significantly with hawthorn treatment. Adverse events were infrequent. These investigators concluded that hawthorn provides a significant benefit in the treatment of heart failure. The active principles are thought to be flavonoids, including hyperoside, vitexin, vitexin-rhamnose, rutin, and oligomeric procyanidins.
The effect was progressive over the 4-month treatment period. In a similar study, a hawthorn extract was investigated for its ability to treat mild, essential hypertension. Studying 36 subjects,these investigators found no difference in blood-pressure-lowering between hawthorn and placebo treatments (though both treatments did reduce blood pressure somewhat). Thus, results of hawthorn use in the treatment of hypertension are mixed.
In addition, hawthorn has the ability to lower serum cholesterol levels and prevent cholesterol deposits from accumulating in arteries. It is an extremely valuable therapeutic agent for the early stages of congestive heart failure and arrhythmias. Tincture of Crataegus (TCR), made from hawthorn berries, was shown to have a hypocholesterolemic effect on rats fed 0.5 mL/100 g body weight for 6 weeks.
These findings prompted a study that examined the ability of TCR to increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) binding to liver plasma membranes in rats fed an atherogenic diet. The hypocholesterolemic effect of TCR appears to be caused by a 25% increase in LDL receptor activity, resulting in greater LDL uptake by the liver. This was caused by an increased number of receptors, not an increase in receptor binding affinity. Do keep in mind that hawthorn should not be taken during pregnancy and lactation.
There are lots of upbeat promising benefits offer by hawthorn, self-treatment should be use under the recommended  standardized dosage. Professional advice is highly recommended since everyone health is different. But if you keep your mind open, hawthorn might be right for your heart.
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