For centuries, hawthorn was planted as a bush or tree (that grows up to nine meters in height) along the edges of fields and gardens, trimmed and served as a living fence. These fences were very beautiful, but they also prevented all those who wanted to cross them. Hawthorn has beautiful white flowers and bright red berries, and its thorns are rather long.
The knowledge of the beneficial action of the hawthorn on hearth was familiar among the people of many areas and cultures, from ancient Greeks to American natives, who consider it to be a strong tonic for the heart. Contemporary use of hawthorn in the treatment of heart disease dates from the 19th century to an Irish physician named dr. D. Greene from Ennis. He did not want to reveal the composition of his tonic, and only after his death in the late nineteenth century people learned that realised that it was made of berries.
How does it work?
Hawthorn directly helps in heart and artery work. It expands blood vessels, improves the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the heart and enhances the power of its work. These effects are likely to be due to large amounts of flavonoids, particularly oligomeric proantocium amdinic complexes, which are found in the hawthorn and are potent antioxidants.
MAIN USEFUL EFFECTS: it seems that the hawthorn can help the heart in a variety of ways. It expands the arteries by hindering the function of the ACE enzyme (angiotensin converting enzyme). Because of this, the blood flows easier through the arteries, which can help people suffering from angina pectoris. Due to the long-term contraction of the arteries, blood pressure may increase (because then the heart needs to work harder to make blood flow through them) and hawthorn can help with mild hypertension.
This plant seems to interfere with the enzymes that weaken the heart; therefore, hawthorn increases the strength of the heart. That is why it can be useful to people with mild heart disease, who do not need strong drugs like digitalis. Furthermore, its antioxidant properties can provide protection against damage associated with the accumulation of plaques in the blood vessels that only supply the heart (coronary arteries).
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: there is a long tradition of using the hawthorn for other purposes. It seems to have a calming and sleeping effect and can help people who suffer from insomnia. Some studies have shown that hawthorn also helps preserve collagen, a protein that builds connective tissue and is damaged in diseases such as arthritis.
How to take it?
DOSAGE: depending on the type of heart disease, the daily dose varies between 300 and 450 mg of extract in the form of the tablet or capsule or from one small to one large teaspoon of tincture. People who want to reduce the risk of heart disease may take 100 to 150 mg of extract or teaspoon of tincture per day.
USE GUIDELINES: if you take high doses of these preparations, it is best if the daily dose is divided into three doses. It may take several months for hawthorn to accumulate in the body and begin to work.
Possible side effects
Hawthorn is known as one of the safest herbal medicines. Although there are informations abot nausea, sweating, weakness and rash, those side effects are rare. It appears that taking the hawthorn preparation together with the medicines prescribed for heart disease is safe, and you may be able to reduce the dose of standard medications. However, before using it, you should consult your doctor. Also, never lower your dose or stop taking prescribed medicines unless your doctor advises you.
IMPORTANT: if you suffer from any illness, consult your doctor before taking any supplements.