Updated: Aug 20
Scientific name: Crataegus monogyna, Crataegus oxyacantha
Common name: May flower, Shan Zha, Crataegus berries, Quickthorn, Whitehorn
Hawthorn berries are tiny fruit that grows on trees and shrubs belonging to the Crataegus genus. Hundreds of species belonging to the Crataegus genus are commonly found in Europe, North America, and Asia. Despite being a fruit, the hawthorn berry has been used as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart failure, and high blood pressure for centuries in traditional Chinese Medicine.
Benefits of Hawthorn Berry
Rich in Antioxidants
Hawthorn berries are a rich source of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant compound found in plants (1). Antioxidants can help fight damage from harmful free radicals. The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Due to the antioxidant activity of polyphenols, they have been associated with numerous health benefits, such as reducing the risk of some cancers, type 2 diabetes, asthma, some infections, heart problems, and premature skin aging. (2).
May Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Hawthorn berries may have anti-inflammatory properties that could improve your overall health. Chronic inflammation has been linked with many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (3). In one study, mice with liver disease who consumed hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds (4). In another study, mice with asthma showed that supplements of hawthorn berry extract decreased inflammation enough to reduce asthmatic symptoms substantially (5). These two studies have led scientists to hypothesize that hawthorn berry extract may offer anti-inflammatory benefits in humans too.
May Lower Blood Pressure
As aforementioned, the hawthorn berry has been one of the most commonly recommended foods to help treat high blood pressure for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine (6). Several animal studies have shown that hawthorn berries can act as a vasodilator, meaning they can relax and constrict blood vessels, lowering blood pressure (7). In a 16-week human study, 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure took 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract daily, resulting in significant improvements in their blood pressure, compared to those in the placebo group (8).
May Decrease Blood Fats
Cholesterol and triglycerides are two types of fats always present in your blood. At normal levels, cholesterol and triglycerides are healthy and play essential roles in your hormone production and nutrient transport throughout your body. However, imbalanced blood fat levels can play a role in plaque buildup on your blood vessels. Some studies indicated that hawthorn berry extract might improve fat blood levels. In one study, mice were given two doses of hawthorn berry extract experienced lower total and low-density lipoprotein (LPL) cholesterol and 28–47% lower liver triglyceride levels, compared with mice that did not receive hawthorn berry extract (9). In another mice study, hawthorn berry extract and the cholesterol-lowering drug Simvastatin reduced total cholesterol and triglycerides equally, but the section also decreased LDL cholesterol (10).
Used To Aid In Digestion
As aforementioned, hawthorn berry extract has been used to treat digestive issues, particularly indigestion and stomach pain, for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Hawthorn berry contains fiber that has been proven to aid in digestion by reducing constipation and acting as a prebiotic. Prebiotics feed your healthy gut bacteria and are vital to maintaining a healthy digestive tract (11). One observational study conducted on humans with slow digestion found that each additional gram of dietary fiber consumed decreased the time between bowel movements by approximately 30 minutes (12). In a rat study, researchers concluded that hawthorn berry extract dramatically reduced the transit time of food in the digestive system (13). In another study, rats with stomach ulcers who took hawthorn berry extract exhibited the same protective effects on the stomach as an anti-ulcer medication (14).
Helps Prevent Hair Loss
One study on rats found that mountain hawthorn berry extract stimulated hair growth and increased the number and size of hair follicles, promoting healthier hair. The polyphenol content in the hawthorn berry is associated with this beneficial effect, which is why hawthorn berry is a common ingredient in commercial hair growth products (15).
May Reduce Anxiety
Hawthorn berry has a mild sedative-like effect, which may help decrease anxiety symptoms (16). In a study conducted on 264 people with anxiety, a hawthorn, magnesium, and California poppy flower significantly reduced anxiety levels compared to a placebo (17).
⚠️ Warning: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this herb is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything.
Contraindications & Interactions
Traditional medicine cautions include the avoidance of hawthorn and its berries if you’re pregnant
Patients on dioxin should avoid hawthorn and its berries
Patients taking antiplatelets, anticoagulants, or heart failure medications should be closely monitored by a physician
Patience taking CYP3A4 substrates may notice effects on their metabolism
Product Recommendations with Hawthorn Ingredients
Earthley's Healthy Heart is an herbal supplement that supports the heart and a proper immune response. This tincture is rich in anti-inflammatory properties and vitamin C. It can help to lower blood sugar and blood pressure, increase insulin activity, and can even help with symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Earthley's Nourish Him Naturally was curated with a man’s specific needs in mind! Earthley uses herbs to support heart health, prostate health, and energy levels to make this vitamin powerhouse. You could see improvement in overall health and wellness through this natural and organic herbal supplement!
MaryRuth’s Kidney & Bladder was formulated to help keep renal and urinary systems happy and working normally! This herbal blend may help you keep these systems running calmly and smoothly by helping maintain healthy fluid balance and urine excretion.