Known as the “heart herb,” hawthorn is widely recognized for its ability to improve cardiovascular performance and lift spirits. Historically, every part of the plant including flowers, leaves, stem, berries and even bark was used to make medicine in ancient Greece and Asia.
Hawthorn berries were a staple in the diet of Native Americans who also revered them for their medicinal properties and used them in the treatment of gastrointestinal complaints and heart issues.
In the early 1800’s, this medicinal herb was used for respiratory and circulatory conditions as well.
About The Hawthorn Bush
The hawthorn bush, a member of the rose family, is a deciduous shrub also known as a thorn apple or May tree. Many species of hawthorn grow in North America and can be found along the sides of wooded hills.
Hawthorn berry bushes have red, white or pink flowers that bloom in May. After the flowers bloom, tiny red, or sometimes black, edible berries appear. These berries taste like a delicious cross between sweet and sour.
They might be small, but hawthorn berries are incredibly powerful. They are loaded with flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that decrease inflammation, improve blood flow, help dilate blood vessels, protect against blood vessel damage and boost immune function. Research shows that eating foods rich in flavonoids as part of a healthy diet can help prevent both neurological and cardiovascular disease and cancer.
10 Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berries
Here are 10 science-backed reasons to enjoy hawthorn berries and their potent medicinal benefits:
1. Heart Function
Hawthorn is a very old plant and its positive impact on heart health was recorded by Dioscorides, a first-century Greek herbalist. Later a Swiss physician found that hawthorn is indeed good for heart function. In the 17th century it was used by a prominent French doctor to treat heart conditions and in the early 1900’s a Dr. from Ireland echoed what all these practitioners already knew, hawthorn was a splendid herb for the heart and cardiovascular system. Physicians of alternative medicine all over Europe used hawthorn to treat heart conditions in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Not surprisingly, hawthorn is an official herbal pharmaceutical in China, Brazil, France, Russia, Germany, and Switzerland. It is an ingredient in over 213 commercial herbal formulas in Europe designed to remedy cardiovascular ailments.
2. Blood Pressure
There is research-based evidence that hawthorn berry extract can reduce diastolic blood pressure even more effectively than blood pressure medicine. Natural practitioners know the power of hawthorn berries, leaves and flowers to reduce elevated blood pressure. The British Journal of General Practice published a study where diabetic patients consumed hawthorn extract for 16 weeks, there was also a control group who received a placebo and a group that received blood pressure lowering medication. The group that took the hawthorn extract had the greatest reduction in diastolic blood pressure.
3. High Cholesterol
According to animal studies, hawthorn berry extract may be a useful all natural remedy for lowering total and bad (LDL) cholesterol. In addition, the study found that the extract also markedly decreased liver cholesterol and triglycerides as well as body weight.
Read Next: 18 Natural Ways To Lower Cholesterol Fast
4. Chest Pain
When blood flow to the heart is decreased it causes a chest pain, also known as angina, a common symptom of coronary heart disease. Research shows that hawthorn may be an effective remedy for preventing and remedying angina. An article published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine and Toxicology noted that hawthorn’s bioflavonoids help to dilate peripheral and coronary blood vessels. This improves blood flow to the heart. Proanthocyanidins in hawthorn extract are thought to reduce tension in the walls of blood vessels, also helping to prevent angina.
Over 60 million people in the United States suffer from insomnia. Many choose to remedy their sleepless nights with habit forming prescription or over the counter drugs. However, there are many alternative health options to choose from that can remedy insomnia. Hawthorn berry is one such natural remedy that is a non-habit forming. The leaves of the hawthorn berry are particularly useful in the treatment of insomnia. Here is a useful herbal tea blend that can be enjoyed an hour before bedtime or anytime you need to rest. This tea will help calm the body and mind and induce a healthy night’s sleep:
Sleep Tight Tea Blend
- 1 part hawthorn flowers and leaves
- 1 part linden flowers
- 1 part catnip
- 1 part lemon balm
- 1 part wintergreen
- 2 parts chamomile
- 1/8th part stevia herb
How To Make It
- Combine the loose herbs in a quart jar. Keep the jar out of direct sunlight and in a cool place.
- Add 1 tsp of the calming tea mixture to a cup of boiling water.
- Let the tea steep for 20 minutes and strain.
- Make a larger batch that will keep for 3 days in the fridge.
6. Menopause Symptoms
The onset of menopause brings a number of symptoms with it including hot flashes, weight gain vaginal dryness, irritability and other symptoms relative to changing hormones. Hawthorn berries help to strengthen veins and increase blood flow and circulation to the ovaries and uterus. In addition, hawthorn berries can also improve the function of ovaries as they age.
Gout is a very painful form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid. It is a known fact that eating fresh or canned cherries can lower uric acid levels, prevent gout and also reduce inflammation. According to research, eating 12 cherries over a period of two days was associated with a 35 percent lower risk of gout attacks. Taking the equivalent in cherry extract reduced the incidence of gout by 45%.
Hawthorn berries, like cherries, contain flavonoids and can also help decrease the risk of gout. It is recommended that you consume 150 to 350 mg flavonoid-rich extracts daily for best results. You can purchase these on Amazon here.
8. Digestive Issues
In Chinese medicine, particularly, hawthorn berries are used in tea form to reduce symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, it can help provide relief from constipation, gas and other conditions that can lead to rectal bleeding.
There are a number of different organic compounds found in hawthorn that can help improve digestion and the fiber in the berries and plant helps improve digestive efficiency and eliminates constipation, bloating cramping. Research shows that hawthorn berry may even be effective in the treatment of colon cancer and ulcers.
9. Skin Issues
Burns in particular benefit from the rich antioxidant content in hawthorn. Other skin conditions that can benefit from the inflammation busting properties of this plant include eczema and psoriasis. Hawthorn will reduce redness, pain, and itching of these, and other skin conditions.
10. Intestinal Infections
Not only does hawthorn improve digestive health but hawthorn has also been found to be excellent at remedying intestinal infections including those caused by tapeworms.
Side Effects & Warnings
Hawthorn berry is known to be safe to consume with few if any side effects being noted. If there are side effects they may include nausea, headache or irregular heart rate. Pregnant women and children should not consume hawthorn berry and if you have any heart conditions you should speak to your health practitioner before using.