Hawthorne berry (Crataegus oxyacantha) is a fruit commonly found in North America, Europe, western Asia, and North Africa. This thorny bush-like tree with berries grows in woodlands, meadows, and is often found as part of hedgerows. The Greeks started using hawthorn for health in first century AD.
Hawthorn berry is most noted for its rich flavonoid content, especially oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). It contains other flavonoids such as vitexin, vitexin 4’-O-rhamnoside, hyperoside, and quercetin. These flavonoids provide excellent antioxidant support, which is why it has historically been used as a heart tonic.
1. Cardiovascular Tonic for Cholesterol
Recent findings demonstrate hawthorn’s supportive effects on cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol metabolism. It also aids modulation of interleukins and C-reactive protein providing antioxidant protection to the inside of blood vessels. Additional findings include its helpful immunomodulatory cholesterol management even with high fat diets.
2. Supports the Heart’s Workload
Your heart is a muscle that doesn’t get the same rest as other muscles. Cardiac muscle is a unique muscle compared to skeletal and smooth muscles. It needs nutrients to keep up its energetics and protect its function.
A review of several double-blind clinical controlled studies on hawthorn extract demonstrated improved exercise tolerance and workload on the heart with usage of hawthorn extract. Hawthorn intake aided in management of oxygen use within the heart muscle. This berry extract can be used with other nutrients such as coenzyme Q10,PQQ,pantethine,tocotrienols and r-alpha lipoic acid etc. to support oxygenation and mitochondrial health.
3. Blood Vessel Support
Hawthorn’s tonic effect supports healthy calcium signaling activity and cellular cAMP (energy) in heart tissue and blood vessel endothelial lining. It helps support blood pressure.
Hawthorn berry OPCs provides antioxidant support to collagen which helps maintain blood vessel strength and integrity. The OPCs found in hawthorn berry elicit a relaxation response on the inner endothelial lining of blood vessels which supports healthy blood flow.
A review study on randomized, controlled trials published in American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs found hawthorn to be effective, safe, and easily tolerated. It was noted to have “a very favorable safety profile” used by itself or with other methods of support.
4. Hawthorn Supports Acetylcholine
Hawthorn’s natural benefits extend beyond cardiovascular health. Cutting-edge techniques used in molecular science identified several compounds found inside hawthorn or Crataegus oxyacantha. All compounds within hawthorn “exhibited an overwhelming acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition potential in the range of 5.22 – 44.47 μM”. In other words, nutrients within hawthorn help your nerves and brain keep the memory neurotransmitter acetylcholine from being broken down. You can learn more about why acetylcholine is so important in the article Memory Neurotransmitter & Gut Health Linked.
5. Antioxidant Protection for Skin
The antioxidant benefits of hawthorn berry aid in protecting your skin. Cell and animal studies demonstrated that the polyphenols found in hawthorn extract shielded against ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Its antiaging effects on the skin were noted to protect collagen from free radicals and stressors such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) induced by UVB. These collagen stressors contribute to the formation of wrinkles.
6. Aids Liver Metabolism
Traditional use of hawthorn berry has also been for digestive tract and liver support. Its antioxidant benefits show support in aiding liver metabolism. Animals fed a high fat diet and hawthorn extract experienced less stress and fat accumulation within the liver.
Hawthorn has been a health tonic for 2000 years and has withstood the test of time. It supports overall cardiovascular function and strength, as well as brain and skin health. Berries have long –been considered part of a heart healthy diet. Consider this natural extract without the difficulties of a thorny bush as part of your tool box for health.