Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berry: 8 Reasons To Experiment With This Medicinal Fruit

Grown on shrubs and trees that are a cousin to the popular rose, hawthorn berries have been used for their medicinal properties in several herbal concoctions. Their tart, tangy taste, and mild sweetness lend themselves well to being to added salads, stewed to make jam, blended into smoothies or juices, or even set with a bit of agar to make jelly. Here are all the health benefits you could reap by adding hawthorn berries to your diet.

1. Aids Digestion

Consuming hawthorn berry regularly can boost your digestive health. The berries and their extract have been in traditional medicine to ease digestive issues, particularly indigestion and stomach pain for centuries. They contain prebiotics, which feeds the healthy gut bacteria and are vital to maintaining digestive health and reducing constipation.1 One study, conducted in people with slow digestion, found that the time between bowel movements decreased by approximately 30 minutes with each additional gram of dietary fiber.2 Another study found that hawthorn extract dramatically increased the pace at which food moves through the digestive system which, in turn, alleviates indigestion.3 This extract was also found to protect against the development of stomach ulcers in a manner quite similar to that of anti-ulcer medications.4

2. Boosts Immune System Function

If you tend to fall sick very often, adding hawthorn berry to your diet might help. They contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that strengthen the immune system. One study, conducted in test tubes, found that hawthorn extract protected against Streptococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae, and even eliminated some of the harmful bacteria.5 A similar study found that the extract had moderate antibacterial potential against several bacteria, including Listeria monocytogenes, which causes foodborne illness.6

3. Lowers Inflammation

Short-term inflammation is a natural bodily response but chronic inflammation can lead to several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers.7 One study, conducted in mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry extract reduced levels of inflammatory compounds. In mice with asthma, it decreased inflammation enough to significantly reduce the symptoms of asthma. That said, further research is needed to fully understand this benefit, especially in humans.8 9

4. May Halt Hair Loss

Adding hawthorn berry to your hair-care routine might help reduce hair fall. One study, conducted in rats, found that hawthorn berry stimulated hair growth and increased the size of hair follicles, in turn promoting healthier hair. This could be attributed to its polyphenol (antioxidant) content. This could be why hawthorn berry is a common ingredient in commercial hair growth products. That said, human studies are needed to fully understand this benefit.10

5. May Lower Cholesterol And Triglyceride Levels

Research has found that hawthorn extract may improve blood fat levels and adding it to your diet can help you manage it. Imbalanced levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, especially high levels of the latter and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, can lead to plaque buildup in your blood vessels (atherosclerosis).11 And if this plaque continues to grow, it might completely block a blood vessel and lead to a heart attack or stroke. In one study, conducted in mice, those that were given different doses of hawthorn extract experienced lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels as well as 28–47% lower liver triglyceride levels when compared to that didn’t receive the extract.12 In a similar study, mice that were on a high-cholesterol diet experienced reduced total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in the same way as the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin did.13 Despite these promising results, further studies are needed to fully assess and validate the effect of hawthorn extract on blood fats.

6. May Lower Blood Pressure

Hawthorn berry has been used to treat high blood pressure in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.14 Studies conducted in animals and humans alike have found that hawthorn can relax constricted blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. One such study, conducted in 36 people with mildly elevated blood pressure levels, found that those taking 500 mg of hawthorn extract daily experienced a decrease in diastolic blood pressure. Those who didn’t take any showed no improvements. Another study, conducted in 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, noted that participants who took 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract daily had greater improvements in blood pressure than those who didn’t. That said, further research is needed to fully validate this benefit.15 16 17 18

7. May Aid In The Treatment Of Heart Failure

As mentioned earlier, hawthorn berry lowers total cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers blood pressure all of which, in turn, protect heart health. Besides these, it has been used in traditional medicine in the treatment of heart failure. One review of 14 studies, conducted in over 850 people, found that participants who took hawthorn extract along with their heart failure medications experienced improved heart function and exercise tolerance. Besides this, a 2-year study, conducted in 952 people with heart failure, found that participants supplementing with hawthorn berry extract experienced less fatigue, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations than those who didn’t. The former also needed fewer medications to manage their heart failure.19 20

Besides this, a large study, conducted in over 2,600 people with heart failure found that supplementing with the berry may reduce the risk of sudden heart-related death. This could be why a hawthorn berry is recommended to people with heart failure as a safe supplement with few side effects.21

8. May Relieve The Symptoms Of Anxiety

If you suffer from anxiety, adding hawthorn berry to your diet might relieve symptoms.22 In studies where hawthorn berry was found to lower blood pressure, participants also noted lower levels of anxiety.23 Another study, conducted in 264 people with anxiety, a combination of hawthorn, magnesium, and California poppy flower significantly reduced anxiety levels.24 That said, since hawthorn has fewer side effects than traditional anti-anxiety medications, hawthorn continues to be researched as a potential treatment for disorders of the central nervous system, such as anxiety and depression.25

References   [ + ]

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3. Wang, Xinrui, Changlong Zhang, Yajie Peng, Haimin Zhang, Zhigang Wang, Yang Gao, Ying Liu, and Hailong Zhang. “Chemical constituents, antioxidant and gastrointestinal transit accelerating activities of dried fruit of Crataegus dahurica.” Food chemistry 246 (2018): 41-47.
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Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.