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Traditional Indications

Hawthorn berries are antispasmodic, astringent, cardiotonic, diuretic, hypotensive, sedative, tonic and vasodilatory. Hawthorn is the trophorestorative of the heart and possibly the most valuable tonic remedy for the cardiovascular system found in the plant kingdom. It increases the blood flow to the heart muscles to restore the strength and tone of the heart muscle. It is used mainly for treating disorders of the heart and circulation system, especially angina. It can be considered in most cardio-vascular disease and safe to use on any cardiovascular medication. The bioflavonoids in the fruit are strongly antioxidant, helping to prevent or reduce degeneration of the blood vessels. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure, they are also used to treat a heart muscle weakened by age, for inflammation of the heart muscle, arteriosclerosis and for nervous heart problems. Prolonged use is necessary for the treatment to be efficacious. (1)
In Traditional Chinese Medicine Hawthorn berries are called Shān Zhā. Shān Zhā is sour and sweet and enters the Spleen, Stomach, Heart and Liver channels to improve digestion and reduce food stagnation, invigorate the Blood and break Stasis and treats hypertension and heart disease and reduce body fat. (2)

Pharmacognosy

Hawthorn berry possesses several other bioactivities for human health due to its rich polyphenolic content. Active constituents include flavonoids, triterpenic acids, and phenol carboxylic acids. Flavonoids such as vitexin, hyperoside, rutin, or vitexin-2′′-O-α-L-rhamnoside, and catechin/epicatechin derived oligomeric procyanidins (OPC) are the most important constituent. Triterpenic acids (ursolic, oleanolic, and crataegolic acids) and phenol carboxylic acids (chlorogenic and caffeic acids and various amines). (3)

Numerous experiments and clinical studies have underlined cardiovascular efficacy of the plant through various mechanisms including positive inotropic and negative chronotropic effects, escalation in coronary blood flow and exercise tolerance, inhibition of the enzymes such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and phosphodiesterase, anti-inflammatory and antihyperlipidemic effects, improving status of antioxidant enzymes, etc., which support its cardioactive efficacy. (4)

Hawthorn berries ethanol extract possesses anti-inflammatory, gastroprotective, free-radical-scavenging and antimicrobial activities. (5)

A randomised controlled trial examine the hypotensive effects of hawthorn for patients with diabetes taking prescription drugs showed the hawthorn group had greater reductions in mean diastolic blood pressures. (6)

1. PFAF. Cratageous oxycantha 2019.
2. Qi M. Hawthorn berries 2019.
3. Wang J, Xiong X, Feng B. Effect of crataegus usage in cardiovascular disease prevention: an evidence-based approach. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. 2013;2013:149363-.
4. Orhan IE. Phytochemical and pharmacological activity profile of Crataegus oxyacantha L. (hawthorn) - A cardiotonic herb. Current medicinal chemistry. 2016.
5. Tadić VM, Dobrić S, Marković GM, Ðorđević SM, Arsić IA, Menković NR, et al. Anti-inflammatory, Gastroprotective, Free-Radical-Scavenging, and Antimicrobial Activities of Hawthorn Berries Ethanol Extract. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2008;56(17):7700-9.
6. Walker AF, Marakis G, Simpson E, Hope JL, Robinson PA, Hassanein M, et al. Hypotensive effects of hawthorn for patients with diabetes taking prescription drugs: a randomised controlled trial. The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners. 2006;56(527):437-43.