Hawthorn, also called English hawthorn, oneseed hawthorn, or haw, is a type of shrub in the rose family. It’s native to Europe but is able to grow in temperate climates around the globe. Hawthorn has been used in traditional medicine as far back as the first century for treating conditions like heart disease.1,2 More recently, it has been used for treating respiratory illnesses and circulatory diseases. It can also benefit people with kidney problems, digestive issues, and anxiety.3
With hawthorn benefits come antioxidants like quercetin and oligomeric procyanidins, which help protect against cell damage to combat issues like heart disease and cancer. Hawthorn benefits also include dilation of the blood vessels and improved blood flow, which can help with other cardiovascular-related conditions.2 You can take the plant orally with extracts from the leaf, flower, or berry available in capsule, liquid, or tablet form.1
Hawthorn Uses and Health Benefits
With its high antioxidant content and historic reputation for treating heart conditions, hawthorn benefits include helping improve symptoms of the following illnesses:
- Cardiovascular Disease - Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is a disease of the heart and blood vessels commonly caused by poor life choices, such as not exercising and tobacco use, as well as factors like diabetes and a family history of cardiovascular disease. Along with lifestyle changes, a hawthorn diet can help protect against cardiovascular disease thanks to its natural ability to lower blood pressure and increase oxygen supply to the heart.
- Congestive Heart Failure - Congestive heart failure is characterized by the heart’s inability to pump enough blood to satisfy the body’s needs. Studies show that hawthorn extract is particularly effective in treating this condition since it helps improve blood flow.
- Angina - Angina is a term used to describe chest pain usually present in coronary heart disease patients. Among hawthorn uses, it can help ease the symptoms associated with angina.
- Atherosclerosis - Atherosclerosis refers to the hardening of arteries caused by the accumulation of calcium, fat, and cholesterol in the blood. This buildup can block arteries and restrict blood flow to important organs. Atherosclerosis can often be controlled through healthy lifestyle choices. A hawthorn diet can help lower cholesterol to minimize this buildup and prevent or treat symptoms.
- Menopause Symptoms - Unrelated to the cardiovascular system, hawthorn benefits women experiencing menopause symptoms, such as night sweats.
Hawthorn Side Effects and Precautions
In general, a hawthorn diet is considered safe. Rare hawthorn side effects may include dizziness, nausea, digestive issues, headache, and palpitations.1,2 Other hawthorn side effects may include interactions with other cardiovascular disease herbs and medications. Since hawthorn uses include lowering blood pressure, talk to your doctor before taking this herb if you’re already taking other blood pressure medications.
Do not attempt to self-medicate heart-related diseases, as they are very serious issues. Always discuss your options with your doctor before beginning on a natural herb diet to get a full view of your health and how herbs like hawthorn can benefit you.