The Facts about Hawthorn Berry: How it Helps and Hurts

The Facts about Hawthorn Berry: How it Helps and Hurts

According to the NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), the Hawthorn plant is in the rose family.  It is considered a shrub and produces flowers and, of course, berries.  It was originally grown and cultivated in the northern parts of Europe.  This herb is used to treat a variety of health issues in the form of capsule or tablet supplements made from hawthorn berry extracts.

Heart Related Issues

The high levels of antioxidants found in hawthorn berries promote various health advantages.  Among these is protection from a slew of heart problems, such as: strokes, blood pressure issues, cardiac arrest, blood circulation to and from the heart, and various disorders of the heart. It also provides a general boost in the functioning of the coronary arteries and the efficiency of the heart in general.  The NCCAM has confirmed the effectiveness of the hawthorn herb in treating nearly all of these issues.

Atherosclerosis

This condition is the buildup of plaque in the arteries of the body, resulting in reduced or eventually complete loss of blood flow to different areas of the body.  One of the most common arteries to be affected by this is the coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart.  It can result in sudden and completely unexpected heart attacks.  The antioxidants in the hawthorn herb prevents plaque from collecting in the arteries.

Lowering Blood Pressure

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is an issue that plagues many people for a variety of reasons.  Hawthorn berries or their extract can be used to lower blood pressure, even if simply consumed as part of one’s regular diet.  It is even safe in combination with other blood pressure regulating medication, which can be rare for natural supplements.

Relief From Chest Pain

While not necessarily a heart problem, chest pain can be an indicator of greater underlying cardiac problems.  Possibly due to an improvement in blood circulation, people with chest pain who consumed hawthorne berry extracts reported less pain during both passive and active moments.

Relief From Angina

Not to be confused with simple chest pain, angina is a specific condition that is typically brought on by lack of oxygen in the blood as it travels to the heart.  It is characterized by extreme chest pain that may or may not move on to other nearby areas of the body.

Relief from Stress

Anxiety and stress are one of the largest contributors to heart pain, chest tightness, palpitations, and high blood pressure.  Hawthorn tea specifically acts as a great stress reducer by calming the nervous system, improving circulation, relieving tension, and decreasing blood pressure.

Other Uses

Sleep Aid

One of the most useful hawthorn berry benefits for day-to-day life is its ability to combat clinical insomnia, as well as provide better and easier sleep in general.  Hawthorn tea is often marketed as a natural sleep aid.

Fighting Cholesterol Problems

Concentrated doses of hawthorn berries in the form of tinctures or supplements aid in dispelling bad cholesterol from the body, as well as preventing it from forming in the liver in the first place.  This has the implied effect of preventing the formation of gallstones as well, which are crystallized when cholesterol levels reach oversaturation.  These qualities have not been fully verified in humans yet.

Prevent or Cure Indigestion

The usage of hawthorn for indigestion actually dates back to traditional Chinese medicine.  It is used to dissolve fat from food more quickly.

Metabolic Boost

Consuming the berries of the hawthorn plant may raise the body’s natural metabolic ability, resulting in more caloric burn during all activities (even sleeping).

Menopausal Relief

In particular, these berries will reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes.  In some cases they may be eliminated altogether.  Hawthorn berries have also been speculated to prolong the health of the ovaries.

Fend Off Liver Disease

Finally, though it is not yet proven by the NCCAM or otherwise, this herb may act as a natural preventative medicine for liver disease, with a lesser (though still potent) effect for those who are already afflicted.

Concerns Associated With Hawthorn Berries

The hawthorn herb is not safe for everyone, nor is it safe if taken in incorrect doses.  For adults, hawthorn berries or their extracts should not be taken for longer than about four months; this is simply because evidence of the long term effects of hawthorn berries has not yet been established.  While this herb has been used for centuries to prevent and heal various health conditions, it has not yet been sufficiently scientifically studied.

Consuming hawthorn in any fashion while simultaneously taking supplements or drugs (even natural ones from another herb) may quickly lead to toxicity or other complications.  Otherwise, the negative effects of hawthorn are rare.  Some common effects are: nausea, heart palpitations, lasting headaches, migraines, dizziness, and vertigo.  Hawthorn responds negatively to many heart medications, so it is best to either avoid combining them or consult a doctor.

Finally, under no circumstances should a pregnant or breastfeeding woman use hawthorn supplements or regularly consume its berries.  This is partially due to the lack of information available on its usage in this regard.

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Sagar is co-founder and CTO at Multia, a leading creative agency in Pune. He started his venture when he was 16, he has won numerous international and national web development competitions and has worked on 100+ web, mobile and online marketing projects. He’s a globe-trotter and has traveled to San Francisco, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dubai, Jakarta and Bali Islands.
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