Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha), a rose family member popularly planted along hedges to deter trespassers with its prickly branches, has heart-healthy properties that ancient Greeks and Native Americans recognized centuries ago. Its modern reputation as a healing agent dates to Victorian times, when an Irish physician’s secret heart formula was ultimately revealed to contain a tincture made from the bright red berries.
Hawthorn is now a frequently prescribed heart remedy in Europe. A potent antioxidant, it appears to work by opening up blood vessels that feed the heart, thus increasing this muscle’s energy supply and enhancing its pumping power. It also helps to relieve mild or stable angina (chest pain), control high blood pressure, strengthen heart function, and reinforce a normal heartbeat.
Hawthorn extracts should be standardized to contain at least 1.8% vitexin, also known as vitexin-2″-rhamnoside. This is the herb’s primary active ingredient.
- dried herb/tea
If you take prescription heart medications, consult your doctor before taking this herb. Dosages of prescription medications may need to be lowered or altered in some other way when taken along with hawthorn. Never stop taking a prescription heart medication (or alter the dosage) without consulting your doctor.
The effect of the following classes of drugs may be dangerously increased by hawthorn: antihypertensives; calcium channel blockers (including amlodipine, diltiazem, verapamil); beta blockers (including atenolol, metoprolol, propranolol); ACE inhibitors (including benazepril, enalapril, fosinopril); digitalis drugs and cardiac glycosides (including digitoxin, digoxin); and nitrates (including amyl nitrate, nitroglycerin, sildenafil citrate, isosorbide mononitrate, and dinitrate).
Because of hawthorn’s strength and its effects on such a vital organ as the heart, consult your doctor before taking this herb. It’s best not to take it if you already have low blood pressure. And don’t expect hawthorn to help stop an acute attack of angina; it isn’t capable of doing this.
Hawthorn is generally recognized as safe, although such side effects as nausea, sweating, fatigue, and rashes do develop on occasion. The herb can also drastically lower blood pressure and cause such symptoms as dizziness and fainting, even in people who have normal blood pressure and do not suffer from heart disease. Stop taking hawthorn and consult your doctor if any of these reactions occur.
Angina 100-250 mg standardized extract of leaf/flower combination 3 times a day; or 1-2 ml (1/4 to 1/2 tsp.) liquid extract 3 times a day. Some products also contain hawthorn berry, which is harmless but not clinically effective.
Arrhythmia 100-250 mg 3 times a day
Congestive Heart Failure 100-250 mg standardized extract of leaf/flower combination 3 times a day; or 1-2 ml (1/4 to 1/2 tsp.) liquid extract 3 times a day. Some products also contain hawthorn berry, which is harmless but not clinically effective.
Heart Disease Prevention 100-250 mg standardized extract of leaf/flower combination 3 times a day; or 1-2 ml (1/4 to 1/2 tsp.) liquid extract 3 times a day. Some products also contain hawthorn berry, which is harmless but not clinically effective.
High Blood Pressure 100-250 mg 3 times a day