If your heart could choose its favourite food, it would surely choose Hawthorn berries (Crateagus oxycanthus). These red and sometimes black pome berries are fully loaded with antioxidants that nourish the heart. In fact, it is approved by the Commission E in Germany as a natural remedy for the early stages of heart disease. In the US, Hawthorn has been used by American doctors for restoring cardiovascular health in patients with heart diseases as well as respiratory conditions.
Hawthorn is a shrub that belongs to the family Rosacea (same as roses) that grows in the temperate regions of Asia, Europe, and Africa in the northern hemisphere. Full grown Hawthorn plant reaches up to five feet tall and blooms in the month of May, producing red, pink, and white clusters of flowers. Its berries are called a pome, shaped like an apple or pear only smaller in bright red or black colours.
Hawthorn contains a unique blend of antioxidants, substances that neutralise free radical damage in the cells. It includes flavonoids, phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, and tannins. Hawthorn supplements are standardised based on their concentrations of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins. These antioxidants are found to dilate the blood vessels, ensure healthy circulation, and protect blood vessels from damage.
Hawthorn extract from the fruit is a cardiac tonic that can revitalise the heart in people with congestive heart failure. It is estimated that 80% of studies on Hawthorn for congestive heart failure delivered promising results in improving its symptoms. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a condition wherein the heart’s pumping power becomes weaker than normal. According to webmd, CHF is diagnosed in over 670,000 Americans every year. It is characterised by rapid or irregular heartbeats, dizziness, fatigue, and weakness. CHF also causes respiratory symptoms including wheezing and dry, hacking cough.
Eating Hawthorn berries can be good for lowering blood pressure. Because they naturally dilate the blood vessels, blood can be delivered to the other parts of the body more efficiently. Controlling blood pressure is found to be a preventive measure for life-threatening diseases like heart attack, aneurysm, and stroke. Hawthorn supplements were also tested for diabetics with hypertension and were found to reduce their blood pressure levels.
Angina Pectoris or chest pain is often caused by insufficient blood supply to the heart. In clinical studies, Hawthorn extract from the berries was found improve blood flow to and from the heart for relief of angina. The subjects were also observed to exercise for longer periods of time without experiencing chest pain.
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