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hawthorn illustrationAlso Known As:

Crataegus, English Hawthorn, Whitethorn, Maybush, Maythorn.


Scientific Name:

Crataegus monogyna; Crataegus laevigata, Crataegus oxyacantha.

Family: Rosaceae.


People Use This For:

Hawthorn is used for cardiovascular conditions such as congestive heart failure, coronary circulation problems, angina, and arrhythmias. It is also used to increase cardiac output reduced by hypertension or pulmonary disease, to treat both hypotension and hypertension, atherosclerosis. Hawthorn is also used as a sedative, anxiolytic, antispasmodic, astringent, and diuretic. In manufacturing, hawthorn is used for making candied fruit slices, jam, jelly, and wine.



No concerns regarding safety when used orally and appropriately, short-term.

Hawthorn preparations seem to be safe when used for up to 16 weeks.21,22,23,24,25

Pregnancy and Lactation: Refer to a Medical Herbalist.




Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). There is contradictory evidence about the

effects of hawthorn extract in heart failure patients.


Anxiety. Preliminary clinical research suggests hawthorn, combined with magnesium and California poppy (Sympathyl, not available in the US), might be useful in treating mild to moderate anxiety More evidence is needed to rate hawthorn for this use.


Mechanism of Action:

The applicable parts of hawthorn are the leaf, fruit, and flower. The constituents responsible for the pharmacological effects of hawthorn preparations include

flavonoids and proanthocyanidins. Hawthorn preparations act on the myocardium by increasing force of contraction and lengthening the refractory period, increasing coronary blood flow and cardiac output, and reducing oxygen consumption.24,27,28

Hawthorn's cardiotrophic properties are attributed to increased membrane permeability for calcium,

27 and phosphodiesterase inhibition, which increases cell energy efficiency leading to increased coronary blood flow, vasodilation, and positive effects on heart muscle contraction.27,28

Preliminary research suggests that hawthorn also normalizes the heart rate.28

Hawthorn also seems to have blood pressure lowering activity, according to preliminary research. It seems to cause arterial relaxation. The proantocyanidin constituents seem to cause this effect. 28


Adverse Reactions:

Hawthorn is generally well tolerated.24

Hawthorn preparations can uncommonly cause nausea, gastrointestinal complaints. Other side effects are rare.


Interactions with Herbs & Supplements:

May have additive effects with other herbs in reducing Blood Pressure. Refer to a Medical Herbalist.


Interactions with Drugs:

May have additive effects with drugs in reducing Blood Pressure. Refer to a Medical Herbalist.


Interactions with Foods:

None known.


Interactions with Lab Tests:

Cholesterol: Theoretically, hawthorn might lower blood levels total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and test results.28

Interactions with Diseases or Conditions:

Heart Failure: Refer to a Medical Herbalist.



Dr Clare’s Blends: Dose 455mgs per day. 1.5mls 1:3 Tincture. 400mgs-1gm daily.R2 pp.210


Specific References: HAWTHORN

21. Schmidt U, Kuhn U, Ploch M, Hubner WD. Efficacy of the Hawthorne (Crataegus) Preparation LI 132 in 78 patients with chronic congestive heart failure defined as NYHA functional class II. Phytomedicine 1994;1:17-24.

22. Zapfe jun G. Clinical efficacy of crataegus extract WS 1442 in congestive heart failure NYHA class II. Phytomedicine 2001;8:262-6.

23. Tauchert M. Efficacy and safety of crataegus extract WS 1442 in comparison with placebo in  patients with chronic stable New York Heart Association class-III heart failure. Am Heart J 2002;143:910-5.

24. Pittler MH, Schmidt K, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure: meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Med 2003;114:665-74.

25. Holubarsch CJ, Colucci WS, Meinertz T, et al. The efficacy and safety of Crataegus extract WS 1442 in patients with heart failure: the SPICE trial. Eur J Heart Fail 2008;10:1255-63.

26. Hanus M, Lafon J, Mathieu M. Double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a fixed combination containing two plant extracts (Crataegus oxyacantha and Eschscholtzia californica) and magnesium inmild-to-moderate anxiety disorders. Curr Med Res Opin 2004;20:63-71.

27. Schwinger RH, Pietsch M, Frank K, Brixius K. Crataegus special extract WS 1442 increases force of contraction in human myocardium cAMP-independently. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 2000;35:700-7.

28. Chang Q, Zuo Z, Harrison F, Chow MS. Hawthorn. J Clin Pharmacol 2002;42:605-12.

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