The king of heart herbs: Hawthorn berry

Hawthorn berry was used by humans to treat heart disease, throughout history. It is full of antioxidants and flavonoids that heart is so found of which are responsible for many hawthorn benefits. 

Some of these flavonoids can be found in red grapes, other berries and some cherries.

However, the most important ingredient in hawthorn berries are oligomeric proanthocyanidins or OPCs. They are strong flavonoids which can, along with other phytochemicals in the herb such as vitexin and rutin, heal the body from within, especially the heart muscle.


The herb is used for:

  • High blood pressure
  • There has been one study in which participants were taking 1200 mg of hawthorn berry extract daily, for 16 weeks. After 16 weeks those taking the herbal extract, had lower blood pressure then those taking the placebo.

  • Chest pain (Angina)
  • Some studies suggests that it can improve blood flow to the heart and thereby treat chest pain, caused by weak blood flow. These also leads to longer exercise periods withouth chest pain. However, more studies are needed to confirm these claims.

  • High cholesterol
  • A few studies on rats suggest that a hawthorn berry tincture, could be a powerful agent for the removal of LDL "bad" cholesterol from the blood. Tincture also reduced natural production of cholesterol, in the liver. However, human studies are needed to determine, if the same hawthorn benefits apply on people.

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Thanks to it's rich flavonoid content, hawthorn can prevent formation of plaque and atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can cause chest pain, heart attack and stroke. Hawthorn berries also contain vitamins B-12, B-6 and folic acid which may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, by metabolizing and lowering levels of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are linked to cardiovascular disease.

  • Ejection Fraction
  • If you have ever had heart checkup at cardiologist, your doctor probably measured your ejection fraction. Ejection fraction is the amount of blood pumped by cardiac muscle with each heart beat. It tells you in how good or how bad state is your heart. Healthy people usually have ejection fractions between 50-70 %. Low or extremly low E.F. can be indication of tissue damage which may in time, lead to heart failure. Hawthorn berry is one of few herbs which may improve ejection fraction, especially when combined with CoQ10 and regular exercise.


    Side effects include nausea, upset stomach, fatigue, sweating, headache, nosebleeds, trouble sleeping, agitation, dizziness, and palpitations. Hawthorn side effects are usually very rare but if they persist or they get worse, see your doctor.

    There are some more serious side effects which can ocur but are extremely rare.This includes shortness of breath, mood changes, fast heartbeat and allergic reactions such as rash, itching or swelling. If you experience any of them, see a doctor as soon as possible.

    Pregnant and nursing women should stay away from hawthorn berry since there is not enough data about its use during pregnancy and breast-feeding.


    If you decide to buy any kind of herbal heart formula, make sure it contains hawthorn berry. While there are many herbs out there which can help in treating heart disease, hawthorn is one of the best.

    Also, pay attention to the amount of the hawthorn berries in the formula. It should be the main ingredient in it. However, if you decide to buy the herb separately, then there is no need to worry about this.


    Besides numerous hawthorn benefits, the most prominent one, would be it's ability to improve heart's pumping power, by increasing ejection fraction.

    By doing so, it improves blood flow and reduces the risk of heart failure, while strengthening weakened heart muscle. Hawthorn berries are also used for treating arrhythmia. However, overdose can actually cause cardiac arrhythmia as well as dangerously low blood pressure, in some people.

    Another way, in which the herb helps, is its calming effect on the nervous system which is closely related with heart function.

    Although it is not strong as some of the other relaxing herbs used for this conditions, versatile abilities of hawthorn berry make it a very valuable herb in our arsenal.

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