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Clinical trials have shown that standardized extracts made from the leaves and flowers of hawthorn are effective in helping people with early-stage CHF.1, 2, 3 Hawthorn extracts appear to increase blood flow to the heart, increase the strength of heart contractions, reduce resistance to blood flow in the extremities, and act as an antioxidant.4, 5, 6 In a large preliminary trial, people with mild to moderate CHF were given 300 mg of hawthorn flower and leaf extract (standardized to contain 2.2% flavonoids) three times a day for two months.7 Symptoms of CHF—including heart palpitations, chest pressure, and swelling in the extremities—decreased throughout the trial during the use of hawthorn. The efficacy of hawthorn for the treatment of CHF has been confirmed in a double-blind trial.8
Hawthorn extracts are available in capsules or tablets standardized to either total flavonoid content (usually 2.2%) or oligomeric procyanidins (usually 18.75%). Doctors who work with herbal medicine often suggest 80–300 mg two to three times per day. Hawthorn berry products that are not standardized may be weaker, and the recommended amount is typically 4 to 6 grams per day for the whole herb, or 4–5 ml of the tincture three times per day.
1. Leuchtgens H. Crataegus Special Extract WS 1442 in NYHA II heart failure. A placebo controlled randomized double-blind study. Fortschr Med 1993;111:352-4 [in German].
2. Schmidt U, Kuhn U, Ploch M, Hübner W-D. Efficacy of the hawthorn (Crataegus) preparation LI 132 in 78 patients with chronic congestive heart failure defined as NYHA functional class II. Phytomed 1994;1(1):17-24.
3. Pittler M, Guo R, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008 Jan 23;(1):CD005312.
4. Maevers VW, Hensel H. Changes in local myocardial blood flow following oral administration of a Crataegus extract to non-anesthetized dogs. Arzneimittelforschung 1974;24:783-5.
5. Weikl A, Noh HS. The influence of Crataegus on global cardiac insufficiency. Herz Gerfässe 1992; 11:516-24.
6. Bahorun T, Trotin F, Pommery J, et al. Antioxidant activities of Crataegus monogyna extracts. Planta Med 1994; 60:323-8.
7. Schmidt U, Albrecht H, Podzuweit M, et al. High-dose crataegus therapy in patients suffering from congestive heart failure NYHA class I and II. Z Phytotherapie 1998;19:22-30.
8. Rietbrock N, Hamel M, Hempel B, et al. Actions of standardized extract of Crataegus berries on exercise tolerance and quality of life in patients with congestive heart failure [in German]. Arzneimittelforschung 2001;51:793-8.
Hawthorn leaf and flower extracts have been reported to have a mild blood pressure–lowering effect in people with early stage congestive heart failure.1 In a double-blind study, supplementation with a hawthorn extract significantly decreased diastolic blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. The amount used was 1,200 mg per day of an extract standardized to 2.2% flavonoids corresponding to 6 grams per day of dried flowering tops.2
1. Schmidt U, Kuhn U, Ploch M, Hübner W-D. Efficacy of the hawthorn (Crataegus) preparation LI 132 in 78 patients with chronic congestive heart failure defined as NYHA functional class II. Phytomed 1994;1(1):17-24.
2. Walker AF, Marakis G, Simpson E, et al. Hypotensive effects of hawthorn for patients with diabetes taking prescription drugs: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Gen Pract 2006;56:437-43.
The fruit, leaves, and flowers of the hawthorn tree contain flavonoids, including oligomeric procyanidins, which may protect blood vessels from damage. A 60 mg hawthorn extract containing 18.75% oligomeric procyanidins taken three times per day improved heart function and exercise tolerance in angina patients in a small clinical trial.1
Many doctors expert in herbal medicine consider hawthorn to be an effective and low-risk therapy for congestive heart failure, the main complication of cardiomyopathy. Rigorous clinical trials have now confirmed the effectiveness of hawthorn for the signs and symptoms of early-stage congestive heart failure,1, 2, 3, 4, 5 though hawthorn studies with cardiomyopathy patients have yet to be conducted. The clinical trials with heart-failure patients have demonstrated efficacy using 80 to 300 mg of standardized extract of hawthorn leaves and flowers two to three times per day.
1. Weikl A, Assmus KD, Neukum-Schmidt A, et al. Crataegus Special Extract WS 1442. Assessment of objective effectiveness in patients with heart failure. Fortschr Med 1996;114:291-6 [in German].
2. Weihmayr T, Ernst E. Therapeutic effectiveness of Crataegus. Fortschr Med 1996;114:27-9 [in German].
3. Leuchtgens H. Crataegus Special Extract WS 1442 in NYHA II heart failure. A placebo controlled randomized double-blind study. Fortschr Med 1993;111:352-4 [in German].
4. Schmidt U, Kuhn U, Ploch M, Hübner W-D. Efficacy of the hawthorn (Crataegus) preparation LI 132 in 78 patients with chronic congestive heart failure defined as NYHA functional class II. Phytomed 1994;1(1):17-24.
5. Pittler M, Guo R, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008 Jan 23;(1):CD005312.
An animal study showed that an extract of hawthorn significantly reduced the number of experimentally induced arrhythmias.1 Although the use of hawthorn for arrhythmia in humans has not been studied scientifically, it traditionally has been used for this purpose.2
1. Al Makdessi S, Sweidan H, Dietz K, Jacob R. Protective effect of Crataegus oxycantha against reperfusion arrhythmias after global no-flow ischemia in the rat heart. Basic Res Cardiol 1999;94:71-7.
2. Ellingwood F. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy. Sandy, OR: Eclectic, 1919, 217-20.
Hawthorn is commonly found in Europe, western Asia, North America, and North Africa. Modern medicinal extracts primarily use the leaves and flowers. Traditional preparations use the fruit.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2017.
|Supplement Facts |
Serving Size: 1 capsule
|Amount Per Serving||%DV|
|Hawthorn extract (top branches with flowers) 1.8-2.2% vitexin||300 mg||*|
|Hawthorn (berry)||200 mg||*|
|*Daily Value (DV) not established.|
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