Hawthorn: Fruit for The Heart
The Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) is a fruit-bearing shrub or small tree with a long history as a medicinal substance. Hawthorn Berry has been used for centuries as a heart and cardiovascular tonic herb. It has also been used for the treatment of digestive ailments, shortness of breath, kidney stones, and cardiovascular disorders.
Cardiovascular Benefits of Hawthorn
Today, Hawthorn is used primarily for its cardiovascular benefits. Research has shown that Hawthorn's positive cardiovascular effects are due to its ability to strengthen the integrity of blood vessel walls and increase coronary blood flow in the heart muscle and cardiac output while also improving the heart’s utilization of oxygen.
Clinical studies have found that standardized extracts of Hawthorn flower, leaf, and fruit show promise as adjunctive agents for the treatment of left ventricular heart dysfunction commonly associated with congestive heart failure.
How Hawthorn Works in your Heart
Hawthorn improves left ventricular performance (the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood to the body), as measured by ejection fraction (the percentage of blood pumped out of your heart with each beat). Other trials consistently demonstrate the ability of Hawthorn solid extracts to improve exercise tolerance and symptoms of mild to moderate heart failure.
Reviews of placebo-controlled trials have reported both subjective and objective improvement in patients with mild forms of heart failure (New York Heart Association classes I through III). Other studies of Hawthorn in patients with heart failure have revealed improvement in clinical symptoms with better output of blood from the heart into circulation and patients' subjective sense of well-being.
The Benefit of Flavonoids
The active components of this slow-acting cardiotonic agent are thought to be its flavonoids and oligomeric procyanidins (vitexin). These are the substances that make the fruit so red and the flowers pink. These flavonoid molecules are some of the strongest known antioxidants and have been shown to have specific affinity for the heart and cardiovascular tissues.
Hawthorn (Crataegus) Extracts and Supplements
Hawthorn Extract: Vital Nutrients Hawthorn Extract is concentrated and standardized for its active flavonoid constituents. It is used to support the health of the cardiovascular system, including the protection and preservation of heart tissue. Hawthorne also is a tonifier of blood vessels and arterial walls. This is a standardized extract of leaf and flower in capsule form delivering 1.8 - 2% vitexin per capsule. Studies show this to be a clinically effective concentration at one to two capsules twice daily.
Cratoxy: Scientific Botanicals CRATOXY is a solid extract of Hawthorn Berry which has been used for centuries for heart and cardiovascular support. Concentrated into a molasses-like syrup, Cratoxy allows you to ingest therapeutic levels of Hawthorn Berry without taking pills… and it tastes great too! We commonly suggest ½ tsp., two to three times daily.
CardioBlend: The key elements in Vitanica CardioBlend, including Hawthorn Berry, help to support healthy blood cholesterol levels, healthy cholesterol ratios, balanced nutritional supplementation, and strengthened heart muscle tissue. Suggested use is two capsules twice daily.
Q10 Plus: Thorne Q10 Plus is a combination of coenzyme Q10, hawthorne (Crataegus oxycantha), potassium, taurine, and magnesium, providing the heart muscle with the nutrients needed for optimal functioning. Suggested use is three capsules one to two times daily.
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About the Writer
Dr. Donovan is a Naturopathic Physician, author, educator, and a professor of clinical medicine at Bastyr University's Natural Health Clinic. In 2010 he was voted by his professional peers as one of Seattle’s Top Doctors in the Seattle Metropolitan Magazine. Dr. Donovan writes and lectures on the transformational process of healing and believes a person’s healing journey is ultimately a quest for his/her identity, purpose and meaning. He has more than 35 years of patient care experience as a Registered Nurse (RN) and a Naturopathic Physician (ND), representing a wide range of clinical settings from hospital-based surgical and intensive care as a registered nurse to outpatient primary care as a physician.
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