Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a disease where the heart is weakened and can no longer pump enough blood to support the body’s needs. When less blood is pumped, fluid becomes forced into the lungs and other tissues causing congestion and edema. CHF results in serious damage to the heart muscle and valves, and leaves its victims exhausted. It can also cause wheezing or coughing, dizziness and rapid weight gain.
While exercise and stress management are essential to keep this disease at bay, CHF victims often require the use of medications such as diuretics to decrease fluid retention and digoxin to slow the heart beat and increase its power. In some cases, surgery is required to repair the damage.
Two German studies recently looked into the use of hawthorn for its effect on people with CHF. Hawthorn is an herbal medicine widely used to support heart health. It works by increasing heart muscle contractions and improving blood flow. In both studies, the hawthorn extract improved heart patients’ tolerance for exercise. In one study, almost two-thirds of the patients said they felt better or much better following the six-month treatment period. More than three-quarters of observing physicians also reported good or very good effectiveness and tolerance.
Furthermore, the extract relieved other symptoms, such as high blood pressure and edema, and stabilized heart rate. Hawthorn should only be used for CHF only under the supervision of a physician, as it can interact with other heart medications.
Sources: Herz 1999 Oct;24(6):465-745; Phytomedicine 2001 Jul;8(4):262-6; Reversing Heart Disease by Dr J Whitaker, Hay House:2000