The Benefits of Hawthorne to the Heart
The human heart is essentially a pump, circulating and regulating the flow of blood throughout the body. Therefore, if one could find an herb that benefits the pumping action of the heart; that would be an exciting find indeed! Well, as you might imagine, such an herb does exist, in the form of Hawthorne!
There are two hundred and eighty known species of Hawthorne, which are in the genus Crataegus. It is a spiny shrub native to the northern wooded temperate zones of Europe. It is also used in North America as a decorative garden shrub due to its beautiful red berries.
Ingestion of Hawthorne makes the heart operate more efficiently, partly by increasing blood supply to the heart muscle, but also by improving its contractions. Essentially, it strengthens the heart muscle as well as increasing the output of blood from the heart. Its action also decreases the resistance of your body’s blood vessels to the flow of blood throughout the system, which increases circulation throughout the entire body. Hawthorne is also beneficial because of its high polyphenol content, making it a potent antioxidant! Antioxidants, such as Hawthorne, address the damaging effects of free radicals on the cardiovascular system.
Other actions of this herb make it an excellent choice for addressing mild cardiac arrhythmias, especially in older people. Hawthorne has a beneficial effect on blood pressure, lowering it very gently over time. It is safe to take over an extended period, and though it is a benefit in lowering blood pressure, it will address only mild hypertensive issues.
Hawthorne has long been used to treat congestive heart failure. In fact, research shows that the herb may slow the progression of congestive heart failure. Therefore, mild cases may be prevented from developing into the more advanced stages without needing to use harsh drugs. In fact, one study demonstrated a substantial benefit for people with congestive heart failure that were aged fourty-five to seventy-three years. A certain number of subjects in this study received 600 mg of Hawthorne extract while other subjects received a placebo. The study subjects then exercised on a bicycle. The subjects were monitored during the study, and those taking the herb showed definite improvement in heart action. The members of the group taking Hawthorne also had reduced systolic blood pressure and heart rate. (Schmidt, U., Kuhn, U., Et Al, “Efficacy of the Hawthorne (Crataegus) Preparation L1 1370 in 78 Patients with Chronic Congestive Heart Failure Defined as NYHA Functional Class II,” Phytomedicine 1:74-24, 1994″)
In fact, there are numerous clinical trials showing that Hawthorne benefits cardiac output, has antioxidant protection for the entire cardiovascular system, and helps to lower cholesterol. Hawthorne promotes circulation throughout the body, and it is a calmitive; calming the mind and reducing stress. As you might imagine, this is also a tremendous benefit with regard to cardiovascular health!
Research into the benefits of Hawthorne have concentrated on the berries, flowers and leaves of the plant. Hawthorne contains polyphenol compounds called oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs) and such flavonoids as: vitexin, quercetin, and hyperoside. The leaves and flowers have larger concentrations, particularly of the OPCs. As with most herbal remedies, these components worked synergisticaly together for maximum benefit, so whole plant preparations are best.
Hawthorne is also naturally rich in Vitamin C, which has been shown in studies by Dr. Linus Pauling to be of particular benefit to heart health as well. Therefore, for this, and the many other reasons outlined here, Hawthorne is highly recommended for your heart!