Hawthorn is a plant that has been in use for many years. In traditional Chinese medicine, hawthorn berries were called shanza and were used for gastrointestinal complaints. Hawthorn is also used in making candied fruit slices, jam, jelly and wine.
Now, the parts of the plant being used medicinally are the leaf, fruit, and flower. The most evidence for its use is in mild congestive heart failure. We use it most often for its blood pressure lowering effects. It may work on blood pressure by dilating blood vessels in the heart and the rest of the body thus increasing blood flow. It has also been used for chest pain and blockages in arteries in the legs. Preliminary research suggests it can lower serum cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides. Hawthorn also seems to have antioxidant activity.
Hawthorn is generally well tolerated. Vertigo and dizziness are the most common side effects, if any occur. It is not for use in pregnancy. It does not have an effect on bleeding. In heart failure studies, patients took 240-600 mg of standardized hawthorn daily, and it took 4 to 8 weeks to determine benefit. We currently stock a standardized hawthorn that is 500 mg per capsule.