Hawthorne

General Information


Common Name:

Hawthorne

Latin Name:

Categus
Oxyacantha

Family:

Rosaceae

Other Names:

  • Haw;
  • May;
  • Mayflower;
  • Mayblossom;
  • Maybush;
  • Whitehom.

Indications & Historical Uses

Indications:
Hawthorne is one of the most valuable herbal cardiovascular tonics available. It is described in most modern herbal literature as a valuable drug for the treatment of various heart ailments and circulatory disorders. Hawthorne has been used in the treatment of irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, spasms of arteries (e.g. Raynaud’s) and certain nervous disorders. It has also been used to control atherosclerosis. Hawthorne has potential to be a very valuable drug. However, further scientific studies are needed to substantiate the beneficial effects of the drug. Until additional research has been carried out., prospective users of hawthorne , for heart and circulatory disorders should consider all the consequences and seek medical advice before self-treatment.

Historically
It has been used in the following conditions:

  • Cardiotonic;
  • Spasm of arteries (Raynaud’s);
  • High and low blood pressure;
  • Old age vascular problems;
  • Nervous disorders;
  • Insomnia;
  • Coronary artery and perfusion disordersn [mild stable angina];
  • Irregular heartbeats;
  • Dyspepsia and diarrhea.

Toxicity is low and becomes evident only in large doses,. Therefore, it is relatively harmless if taken in recommended doses. It seems to be a relatively harmless mild heart tonic which apparently has been beneficial in many conditions where this kind of treatment is required.

Contraindications & Precautions

Hawthorne may potentiate the action of digitalis and other drugs that have cardiovascular effects. (See Caution).

Drug Interaction:
May potentiate action of digitalis and other cardiac drugs. Therefore, patients on these drugs should refrain from using Hawthorne unless supervised by a physician. (See Caution) .

Dosage Information

Dosage:

250mg/day.

Pharmacology

Modern research has revealed some interesting properties of hawthorne. It’s berries are rich in flavonoids and they act on the body in 2 ways: First, they dilate the blood vessels, especially the coronary vessels, and secondly, they reduce peripheral resistance and thus lower blood pressure. Therefore, it reduces the tendency to angina attacks.  Additionally, flavonoids have a direct favorable effect on the heart itself , which is especially apparent in cases of heart damage. Hawthorn’s action is not immediate, but develops very slowly and is relatively harmless if taken in the recommended doses. It takes up to two weeks to acquire high enough tissue concentrations of hawthorn to produce observable effects. (See Precautions). Because of its slow onset of action ,it is not useful for acute attacks of angina, but is helpful in reducing the tendency to angina. Hawthorne is also known to have a positive ionotropic effect on the heart and accelerates the heart, increases nerve conductivity and heart muscle functioning. Hawthorne is also known for its sedative effect .

Active Ingredients:

Mixture of:

  • Flavonoids;
  • Saponins;
  • Procyanidins;
  • Trimethylamine;
  • Tannins.

Enhancing Agents:

  • Valerian root;
  • Motherwort.

Origin

Hawthorne is a small thorny tree with white and red flowers and berries. It is found in England, Europe and North America. Hawthorne is widely used in Europe, especially Germany. Three dozen different preparations containing extracts of these plant parts, either singly or in combination with other drugs, are currently marketed in Germany. Active ingredients are extracted mainly from the berries, although the flowers and the leaves also contain some of the active ingredients Because the berries, leaves and flowers all contain compounds which affect the heart and the circulatory system, products containing them should not be used indiscriminately.

Processing

Processing involves only alcoholic extraction.
Standardized extract should contain 2% Vitexin and 2% Vitexen Rhamnoside.

Scientific References

Mowrey, D. (1990) Guaranteed Potency Herbs. A Compilation of writings on the subject.

Ullsperger, R. (1951) Preliminary communication concerning a coronary vessel dilating principle from hawthorne. Pharmazie 6(4):141-144.

Rewerski, W and Lewak, S. (1970) Hypotonic and sedative polyphenol and procyanidin extracts from hawthorne. Ger. Offen. 2:145-211.

Mowrey, D. (1986) The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. Cormorant Books.

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