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Hawthorns' color, shape, growth pattern and so forth of a plant provide clues to its medicinal properties as being associated with the cardiovascular system.
The color of its berries reveals hawthorn's high level of flavonoids, which along with its oligomeric procyanidins (or OPCs for short) are widely recognized for their ability to tone and strengthen the heart and to prevent cardiovascular damage by scavenging free radicals and inhibiting inflammation. Flavonoids regulate the body's immune response to allergens, viruses and carcinogens and are active against a wider range of free radicals than most anti-oxidants. In addition, hawthorn berries contain: magnesium and niacin, which are useful for treating angina; at least seven known blood thinners; at least nine separate anti-edemics; and three hypertensives which expand blood vessels, lower blood pressure and reduce the heart's workload.
Hawthorn is a member of the rose family and many of these same components are found in other members of the family, such as apples, crab apples, peaches, pears, blackberries, prunes and rosehips. So, it appears that many other members of the rose family may have similar benefits on the cardiovascular system. (But then, roses are associated with the heart, too, so there still may be a "signature" here.)
Hawthorn is a small tree or shrub native to Southern Europe and Western Asia. Its botanical name, Crataegus oxyacantha, comes from the Greek words Kratos, meaning hardness (of the wood), oxus (sharp) and akantha (thorn). There are over 200 different varieties of hawthorn, but even the best botanists admit that many of them are almost impossible to tell apart.
Oddly enough, in China, the berries of one variety have been taken for centuries as a digestive stimulant. In Europe, though, and among at least 10 different Native American tribes, hawthorn has been used as a remedy for many different cardiovascular problems. Modern research has only confirmed hawthorn's value in this respect. It is widely used in Europe to treat angina, and its beneficial effects have been documented in the most prestigious medical journals. The British Journal o/Medicine reported that an extract of hawthorn flowers "significantly improved the health of patients suffering from an 'ageing heart' and those who had heart-valve disease." It has also been reported to increase oxygen utilization by the heart, strengthen heart muscle, regulate both high and low blood pressure and dilate both peripheral arteries and the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart itself
Besides its cardio tonic properties, hawthorn has other interesting properties. Dr. James Duke, a leading North American herbalist cites evidence that hawthorn helps with the symptoms of ADHD, aiding children, in particular, to stay more focused and attentive. Hawthorn is also considered a powerful diuretic and was traditionally used for kidney conditions to promote the flow of urine.
Of course, no one should try to treat a serious heart condition on his or her own, but there are countless stories and scientific studies telling how hawthorn berries have helped to prevent and help heal the number one cause of death in the US. In over 100 years of medical literature, there are no reports of complications attributed to its use. The only caution issued regarding hawthorn berries is that they boost the effect of digitalis if taken together. Hawthorn berries are available as a single herb, and are also part of the Cardio-Assurance and HS-II formulas.
Hawthorn Berries Extract (2 oz)
Hawthorn berries (100 capsules)