Hawthorn Berry Health Benefits
We love berries. They taste great and many of them provide a string of excellent health benefits and supplement well. Hawthorn berry is no exception.
With a botanical name of Crataegus spp, it’s probably best we stick to ‘hawthorn berry’. But you may also have heard it referred to as thornapple, may-tree, whitethorn, or hawberry.
Perhaps you have even seen these little, bright, red berries growing on countryside walkabouts? They are found on small trees or shrubs, and come from the same family as apples and roses.
Hawthorn berries are nutritious and are often harvested to make into sweets and jellies. In fact, the whole of the hawthorn bush is nutritious. It was once known as the ‘bread and cheese’ tree.
Why? Because, in times of famine in the past, the hawthorn proved to be a lifesaver for hungry people. All parts are edible, including the flowers and leaves, as well as the berries. Fibrous and delicious!
Traditionally too, the berries have been used with the twigs and leaves of the shrub in medicine - especially for complaints of the cardiovascular system: a use that continues to this day.
So, when you think of hawthorn, think of the heart and you won’t go far wrong: both begin with ‘h’ and, besides, the bright red hue of the berries also goes well with the color of the heart!
Most people do not include hawthorn berry in their diet and it is not the type of berry that you will see on the local supermarket shelves. This means that, to start enjoying the well-established health benefits of hawthorn berry, you need to find a reliable supplement.
Before we look at that in more detail, let’s understand more about some of the key properties of hawthorn berry…
What Gives Hawthorn Berry Its Health Properties?
Unlike some supplements, hawthorn berry does not lack evidence to back up its health benefits. The therapeutic properties of this berry are well-documented.
The active constituents of hawthorn include:
- Bioflavonoids, such as quercetin and hyperoside
- Oligomeric proanthocyanidins
- Phenolic acids, such as epicatechin
These all combine to produce both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that benefit the cardiovascular system. Let’s look a little closer at the specifics of that…
How Hawthorn Berry Benefits The Heart
Hawthorn berry appears to offer a wide range of benefits for the cardiovascular system, from blood pressure management to the strengthening of veins and capillaries.
As an approved herbal pharmaceutical in countries like France and Switzerland, there is strong evidence to back it up. Research suggests that hawthorn berry can assist with:
Hawthorn has been shown to improve the amount of blood pumped out of the heart during contractions. It also has the effect of widening the blood vessels, and increasing the transmission of nerve signals.
It seems to cause relaxing of the blood vessels farther from the heart, which has the effect of lowering blood pressure.
Preliminary evidence also suggests that hawthorn may also assist with:
Hawthorn berry may also have secondary benefits for the digestive and nervous systems. While this needs further study, it makes sense, because it’s well-known that stress and anxiety can influence cardiac and digestive function, and vice versa.
We’ve also heard some claims that hawthorn berry can help reduce varicose veins but this is mostly anecdotal and is not currently backed up by scientific study.
How To Safely Enjoy Hawthorn Berry
The hawthorn berry used in Athletic Greens is a 10:1 extract. That means for every 15mg of the extract used in the supplement, you get the equivalent of taking 150 mg of the berry. We’ve found this to work well for the supplements.
Recommended doses of hawthorn berry vary between 160-1800 mg per day of standardized extract. These are the doses used in most trials, where divided doses are administered for up to 24 weeks. Major benefits commonly appear after 6-8 weeks of treatment.
Hawthorn is considered safe and rarely interacts with other medications. However, there are some reported interactions with other cardiac medications such as Digoxin.
Caution is advised if you are taking this medication and as always, it’s best to check with your doctor before supplementing if you are taking any medication at all.
Minor side-effects include dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal complaints, palpitations, headache and rash. However, these have rarely been reported.
Who Can Benefit From Hawthorn Berry?
With a considerable weight of evidence supporting the benefits of hawthorn berry to the heart, using this supplement in your daily plan should be a good option for anyone with cardiovascular problems or who wishes to prevent them.
Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may be of particular use to ageing people, who wish to maintain optimal cardiovascular health or to improve their condition.
Of course, exercise is an important part of achieving optimal heart health but some people, for a range of reasons, are not able to get the required daily exercise. As well as aged people, this might include those affected by injury, disease, or temporary immobility.
Beyond this, because hawthorn berry is not commonly found in diets, most people could use its benefits for circulation, to provide a welcome health boost.
The good news is that the blood pressure benefits can usually be seen relatively quickly after you begin taking hawthorn berry supplements.
While most of the benefits of hawthorn berry are preventative and are realized over time, you may be surprised by the more immediate effect it can have on blood pressure.
It is also considered a very safe supplement to use. However, please note that care should be taken by some people on certain medications, as indicated above.
For most people, the addition of hawthorn will provide notable benefits for heart health, and may extend to benefits for the digestive and nervous systems.
Within Athletics Greens, hawthorn berry works well with CoQ10, ginger, and gotu kola to boost circulation and blood pressure.
It also works well with ginger, papain (from papaya) and bromelain (from pineapple) to improve digestion and is effective alongside grapeseed extract for strengthening and repairing blood vessels. All of these are included in Athletic Greens, so you get maximum benefit, with minimum fuss.