Hawthorn: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Hawthorn Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

The single and double hawthorns are native to all of Europe; the other hawthorn species also come from the Balkan Peninsula, the eastern Mediterranean areas, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia. The drug material is imported from Eastern and Southeastern Europe.

Use of Hawthorn

In herbal medicine, the most common use is the dried leaves together with the flowers (Crataegi folium cum flore).

More rarely, and mainly in homoeopathy, are the hawthorn fruits used. However, there is no optimistic monograph by Commission E on the hawthorn fruits.

Since hawthorn wood is challenging, it is used to make walking sticks, toys and the like.


Hawthorn and its characteristics

Hawthorn is a mostly branched, 2-5 m high shrub or a tree up to 10 m high. The plant has thorny branches and oval, lobed and finely-toothed leaves. Hawthorn also bears white flowers arranged in broad cymes, the smell of which attracts many insects for pollination. The fleshy fruits are red when ripe.

In herbal medicine, the single-handed hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and the two-handed hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) are used in particular, and they often interbreed. Other types used are:

  • Crataegusazarolus
  • Crataegus pentagon as well
  • Crataegus cuneata in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Hawthorn as a medicine

The drug material consists of dark brown, woody stem pieces and lobed leaves with a slightly serrated edge and more or less hairy growth. The leaf veins can be seen, especially on the lighter underside of the leaves. The petals can be recognized by their yellowish-white to brownish colour.

Hawthorn leaves give off a peculiar, faintly scented odour. The taste of the drug is slightly sweet, slightly bitter and astringent.

Hawthorn – application

Products containing hawthorn are used for age-related declining cardiac performance (senile heart) and mild forms of cardiac insufficiency (cardiac insufficiency). The plant is particularly suitable for the treatment of stage II heart failure. According to the definition of the New York Heart Association (NYHA), this stage is associated with a slight limitation in physical performance, arrhythmia, shortness of breath and angina pectoris (“chest tightness”). There are no symptoms at rest, but everyday physical exertion causes exhaustion.

Among other things, hawthorn increases the coronary arteries’ flow rate, improving the symptoms. Hawthorn is said to improve physical performance and prevent aggravation of cardiac insufficiency if it is used as a support over the long term.

Hawthorn for the heart

Experience and clinical studies have shown that hawthorn leaves can also be used to help with functional heart problems, cardiac arrhythmias, coronary heart disease (disease of the coronary arteries that leads to a reduced supply of oxygen to the heart muscle), and to prevent arteriosclerosis.

In addition, the plant has also proven itself for heart problems caused by stress in everyday life and due to nervous and mental overload.


Used in folk medicine and homeopathy

Hawthorn has also been used in folk medicine since the 19th century to treat chest tightness old-age heart problems, and, in general, as a heart-strengthening remedy. In addition to foxglove and lily of the valley, hawthorn is now considered a tried and tested remedy for treating heart ailments.

In homoeopathy, fresh, ripe fruits treat heart and circulatory disorders.

Ingredients of Hawthorn

Hawthorn leaves, and flowers contain 0.3-2.5% flavonoids, such as hyperoside and rutin, mainly found in the flowers, and 0.4-1% oligomeric procyanidins. It also contains biogenic amines, triterpenic acids, phenolic carboxylic acids and polysaccharides. Hawthorn fruits contain very similar ingredients.


Hawthorn: indication

Medicinal uses for hawthorn include:

  • cardiac insufficiency
  • heart failure
  • Altersherz
  • heart trouble
  • cardiac arrhythmias
  • Coronary heart disease

Hawthorn – dosage

Hawthorn leaves are offered as tea preparations, in filter bags or as combination preparations from the group of cardiovascular teas. In herbal medicine, hawthorn preparations are still one of the top-selling remedies. Hawthorn is available in film tablets, coated tablets, capsules and drops. In addition, the drug is included in many combination preparations to strengthen the cardiovascular system.

Dose and duration of use

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is 160-900 mg of a native, aqueous-alcoholic extract. This corresponds to about 30-169 mg of the oligomeric procyanidins or 3.5-20 mg of the flavonoids in 2-3 single doses.

The duration of the application should be at least six weeks, regularly and in sufficient dosage – only then will the full effect of the treatment be achieved.


Hawthorn as a tea preparation

To make tea, pour boiling water over 1-1.5 g of the finely chopped drug (1 teaspoon corresponds to about 1.8 g) and pass it through a tea strainer after 15 minutes. One cup of tea should be drunk 3-4 times a day.

The drug should be stored dry and protected from light.

Contraindications: when not to take hawthorn?

  • In the case of manifest cardiac insufficiency, no specially prepared tea should be drunk!
  • Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under the age of 12 should only take hawthorn supplements on medical advice.
  • Hawthorn is not suitable for self-treatment. Before taking the exact causes of the symptoms, they should first be clarified by a doctor.


What should be considered when using it?

Hawthorn is effective in high doses, even in stage III heart failure. However, hawthorn preparations are not recommended as the sole measure for treating moderate and severe cardiovascular problems.

If the symptoms persist for more than six weeks, water deposits in the legs, and pain in the heart area radiates to the upper abdomen, arms, or neck, a doctor should be consulted.

Hawthorn – synonyms

German plant name: hawthorn

German synonyms of the plant: Single-pitched hawthorn, single-pitched hawthorn, hawthorn, powdered thorn, white-thorn

Latin plant name: Crataegus monogyna

Latin synonyms of the plant: Crataegus monogyna Jacq., Crataegus apilfolia, Mespilus elegans, Mespilus monogyna, Mespilus monogyny

German drug name: Hawthorn leaves with flowers

Latin drug name: Hawthorn leaf with flower

Latin synonyms of the drug: Nettle leaves, Nettle herb with flowers, Nettle herb

English name: Hawthorn herb, Whitethorn herb (Droge); Whitethorn, Hawthorn, English hawthorn, Common hawthorn, One-seeded hawthorn, One seed hawthorn, Hawthorn monogyna, Crataegus monogyna, Haw, May (Pflanze)

Plant family Latin: Rosaceae

Plant family German: rose family


Hawthorn – effect

Hawthorn leaves have multiple effects on the heart and blood vessels. Taking hawthorn preparations leads, among other things, to an increase in heart strength (positive inotropy) and an acceleration of the transmission of excitation in the heart by influencing specific channels and receptors.

Hawthorn also has vasodilating properties, which increase blood flow to the coronary arteries and reduce vascular resistance. All in all, this leads to an improvement in the oxygen supply to the heart and an increase in cardiac activity.

Hawthorn: No interactions or side effects

If the maximum daily dose is observed, no harmful side effects are to be expected. No interactions with other agents are currently known.

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