Hawthorn a top pick for heart health

Hawthorn is one of the most well-researched herbs used for heart conditions, including congestive heart failure, angina, high and low blood pressure, irregular heart beat, and more. In a recent review of eight studies at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth in England, researchers looked at the use of hawthorn extract to treat patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). In most of the studies, hawthorn was used alongside conventional treatment. The researchers found that hawthorn was more beneficial than placebo, improving such symptoms as fatigue, and concluded that there is a significant benefit from using hawthorn extract as an adjunct treatment for CHF.

In particular, hawthorn can dramatically improve exercise tolerance and quality of life in patients with CHF, as shown in a study in 2001. German researchers from the University of Frankfurt looked at the effect of a standardized extract of hawthorn berries in 88 patients. In this three-month trial, the patients were treated with a liquid hawthorn extract at 25 drops, three times daily, or a placebo.

The researchers found that treatment with hawthorn led to an increase of exercise time, an improvement in quality of life scores, and decreased fatigue, compared to those on placebo. Difficulty in breathing as reported by the patient decreased by 11% in the hawthorn group compared to only 4% in the placebo group. The researchers concluded that “the present study proves the efficacy and safety of a standardized extract of fresh [hawthorn] berries…in patients with congestive heart failure.”

Sources: Am J Med 2003 Jun ;114(8):665-74; Arzneimittelforschung 2001 Oct;51(10):793-8