Native to certain parts of North America, Asia and Europe, there are many different species of hawthorn trees and shrubs that belong to the genus Crataegus in the family Rosaceae. The fruits of these thorny shrubs have long been used by humans as food as well as herbal medicine. Hawthorn berries are used in the traditional medicine of various regions, across the globe. It is also used in the traditional Chinese medicine. While dried hawthorn berries are used for promoting digestion, these fruits are also used as a sedative and for boosting cardiovascular functions.
Benefits of Hawthorn Berry
So, hawthorns are associated with various health benefits and are used for medicinal purposes, in different parts of the world. There are numerous species of hawthorns and those which are usually used for medicinal purposes are Crataegus monogyna, Crataegus laevigata, Crataegus pinnatifida and Crataegus cuneata. Crataegus pinnatifida is mainly used in traditional Chinese medicine while Crataegus cuneata or Japanese hawthorn is also said to be used as a herbal medicine in Japan and nearby areas.
Active ingredients in hawthorn berries include flavonoids, phenolic acids, oligomeric proanthocyanidins, triterpene acids and tannins. Being rich in antioxidants and various other beneficial compounds, hawthorn berries are used for therapeutic purposes. These berries are now available as supplements in the form of tincture, capsules and tablets. Dried berries are mainly used for making the extract of hawthorn berries. Even the dried flowers and leaves of this shrub are used, along with the berries. The following are some of the health benefits of hawthorn berries.
Hawthorn Berry for the Heart
One of the much touted benefits of hawthorn berries is its use in boosting cardiovascular functions. These berries are said to be helpful in enlarging the arteries in the heart. This improves the flow of blood, which in turn results in a good supply of oxygen to the heart muscles. The muscles get strengthened, thereby leading to more efficient functioning of the organ. Apart from the coronary arteries, other blood vessels in the body too are benefited with hawthorn berry. These blood vessels too get enlarged, thus leading to more efficient blood circulation throughout the body. This relieves stress to the heart. It has also been suggested that being rich in antioxidants, this berry has cholesterol-lowering properties too. This herbal product is also used for treating irregular heartbeat, angina, congestive heart failure, myocarditis and arteriosclerosis.
Other Hawthorn Berry Benefits
Hawthorn berry is beneficial in reducing the high blood pressure. One of the hawthorn berry extract benefits include its use by those who are on weight loss diets. It is said that hawthorn berry extract is useful for reducing water retention. Being an anti-inflammatory agent, hawthorn is also used for treating inflammatory conditions of the skin. This herbal extract is also found to be beneficial for treating seborrhea and acne too. As mentioned above, hawthorn berry is also used for promoting sleep.
Hawthorn Berry Side Effects
So we have seen from the above paragraphs that hawthorn berry is said to various health benefits. Though, it is said to be a safe herb, hawthorn berry may sometimes cause mild side effects like skin rash, headache, dizziness, sweating, palpitations, sleepiness, and gastrointestinal problems. In case the user develops severe symptoms like breathing trouble, pounding heart, etc., then you must seek immediate medical attention. You must discontinue the use of this herb and contact your doctor, if you notice any mild hawthorn berry side effects. It may also interact with prescription drugs used for treating heart problems, high blood pressure as well as those for male sexual dysfunction. This herbal extract may interact with muscle relaxants, narcotic pain killers and drugs for anxiety, seizure and psychiatric conditions. Pregnant women should not use this herbal product.
So, it is always advisable to use this herb, as per the instructions of a qualified herbal practitioner. The herbalist must be informed about your current medical condition as well as the medications you are using. Even overdose of this herb may cause side effects. So, follow the instructions of the herbalist strictly, so as to reap hawthorn berry benefits, in a safe manner.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.