Learn More About Hawthorn Berry
What is hawthorn?
Hawthorn is a five-foot shrub that grows throughout the world. Its berries are called haws, and it has thorns, hence the name. Although distantly related to roses, hawthorn has no fragrance.
What is hawthorn used for?
Widely recognized among German physicians for its apparent ability to lower blood pressure, hawthorn may fight hypertension by inginhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme, a substance in our bodies that contributes to retention of both sodium and water. Given that modern diets tend to be murderously high in salt, this is particularly important property of hawthorn’s.
Because of this, the herb appears to work as a vasodilator, making more blood available to the heart and, through a decrease is arterial resistance, promoting increased blood flow to the extremities. In one study that involved injecting rats with phenylephrine, a cold medicine that normally induces blood vessel constriction, hawthorn extract counteracted this effect.
Hawthorn also seems to act as a mild beta-blocker, even helping to fight anxiety in some hypertensives.
No one knows for sure, but hawthorn’s promotion of blood circulation may explain why, according to some scientists, it promotes better cardiac function in those with congestive heart failure. One German study indicated that subjects with congestive heart failure who received treatment with hawthorn for four months saw death rate due to cardiovascular events drop by twenty percent. This meant that the subjects had, on average, an extra four months added to their life spans.
A two-year study in New York with over 2,500 heart patients whose left ventricular function was poor yielded similarly encouraging results, reducing cardiac-related deaths by forty percent. The same research indicated that hawthorn could improve exercise output among congestive heart failure patients by ten percent over similar patients who did not get the extract, as well as a decrease in resting heart rate of ten percent.
Other work with hawthorn suggests that beyond its cardioprotective effects, this herb acts as a free-radical scavenging antioxidant, promotes better gastrointestinal function, and possesses mildly antibacterial properties against both listeria and ulcer-causing H. Pylori.
Hawthorn also appears to fight edema through anti-inflammatory pathways. When scientists induced swelling in rats, hawthorn brought down the edema by over seventy percent. This was a better result than what was achieved with rats who were administered NSAIDs but not hawthorn.
Anecdotal reports also exist that hawthorn might also be of help to those who have arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, although more research is needed in this area.
How is hawthorn taken?
Looking for hawthorn extracts derived from the leaves of the plant, as some scientists and herbalists contend that this part of the plant yields more consistent heath benefits. The bottle should indicate that the hawthorn extract has been standardized to contain a compound called vitexin.
A hawthorn dose of 160 to 900 milligrams is not considered unusual.
Is hawthorn safe?
Hawthorn is considered extremely safe, although the data suggest that it amplifies the effect of the heart medicine digoxin. If you suffer from heart disease or take any prescription drug, see your doctor before taking hawthorn.
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