Not only is your heart found in the middle of your chest, but it is also the center of nearly every bodily system keeping you alive. It is essential to protect the heart and provide the right tools needed to continue its vital job. The Hawthorn berry was first recorded medicinally as far back as the first century. It was still in use in America in the 1800s, and recent studies, both in the laboratory and with animals, suggesting that the simple hawthorn berry is effective even in treating mild-to-moderate heart failure.
What is Hawthorn Berry?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the Hawthorn is a common thorny shrub of the Rosaceae (rose) family. The leaf, flower and berry can all be used medicinally and the berry is highly regarded throughout traditional medicine in Europe as safe and effective in treating mild heart failure. It has also been endorsed by the German government’s Commission E, which studies and approves herbal treatments. While conventional medicine would come to replace it, the Hawthorn berry is beginning to see an increase in popularity in recent times. The renewed interest may come in part as more people are seeking alternative and natural health routes as most prescription medications have dangerous or concerning side effects.
How Do Hawthorn Berries Help the Heart?
These tiny red berries are chocked full of health-boosting compounds such as hyperoside, quercetin, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, rutin, catechin, epicatechin and vitexin. Each one of these active compounds contains antioxidants and heart-healthy properties like the ability to target and neutralize free radicals, improve blood flow, aid in dilating blood vessels and prevent damage to the blood vessels. The berry has also been found to be helpful in treating congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and angina. There is also evidence to suggest that it can strengthen the heart and stabilize arrhythmias.
What Are Its Medicinal Uses?
Human and animal studies show that the Hawthorn Berry can be used to treat several heart-related problems.
High Blood Pressure
According to the results of one study, diabetic participants who took a measured dose of a Hawthorn extract for sixteen weeks had lower blood pressure than those who had received the placebo. While there are no current studies conducted with the sole focus on the berry in relation to high blood pressure, the above study and many health experts believe that the benefits carry over in treating hypotension.
Angina, or pains in the chest because of reduced blood flow to the heart, is a warning sign that something is wrong. One early study’s results suggest that the berry can improve blood flow and reduce or eliminate chest pains. The study consisted of 160 people suffering from angina who were either given an extract made from either the Hawthorn flower, berry or leaf or a placebo. Those who received the extract gained improved blood flow to the heart and could sustain exercising longer with no chest pains than those who had received the placebo.
Studies show that the antioxidant properties of the berry prevent plaque from building up in the vessels which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis and can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Congestive Heart Failure
This grave health condition is the focus of most studies that have been conducted on the Hawthorn plant. Double-blind controlled studies have shown Hawthorn can improve the ability to exercise, improved symptoms of congestive heart failure like fatigue and shortness of breath, and significantly improved the overall function of the heart.
Talk to a qualified healthcare practitioner to find out if taking Hawthorn Berry in tea or extract form is right for your heart health.