Hawthorn leaves, flowers and berries are used in herbal medicine: tinctures, supplements, and fruit drinks are made from them. The fruits of the bush also make delicious jams, pie fillings and sauces.
- What is this
- Benefit: 6 properties
- Side effects
- How to brew
- Expert comments
Hawthorn: what kind of berry, what it looks like and where it grows
Hawthorn is a long-lived shrub that can grow up to 400 years. Its fruits and leaves have been actively used in Chinese medicine as the main remedy for high blood pressure. (1), and the first study on the effect on heart disease was published in 1896 (2).
Hawthorn usually blooms from June to August, and the fruits ripen in the fall. The flowers of the bush are collected in dry weather and left to dry naturally under canopies or using special devices. To pick the berries, you need to wait until they are fully ripe, since after picking they do not “reach” the required stage. They are dried in special warm rooms or dryers.
Hawthorn can grow up to 400 years
Benefits of hawthorn: 6 properties
Hawthorn helps reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and also normalizes digestion.
1. Rich in antioxidants
Hawthorn berries are an excellent source of polyphenols, powerful antioxidant compounds. (3), neutralizing free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress. Polyphenols also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, asthma, and premature aging (4).
2. May Help Reduce Inflammation
Studies have shown that chronic inflammation leads to the development of type 2 diabetes, asthma and some types of cancer. (5).
As part of the experiment, mice with liver disease were given hawthorn berry extract. It turned out that this significantly reduced the level of inflammatory compounds and, as a result, organ damage (6).
In another study, mice with respiratory problems were given vitexin, a compound found in hawthorn leaves. Thanks to this, it was possible to reduce the production of molecules that cause inflammation and reduce the reaction of white blood cells to it (7). More data is needed to make final conclusions.
3. May lower blood pressure
Animal studies show that hawthorn may act as a vasodilator, meaning it relaxes constricted blood vessels, ultimately lowering blood pressure (8).
For 10 weeks, 36 people with moderately high blood pressure took 500 mg of hawthorn extract daily. As a result, their diastolic blood pressure decreased (9).
In another study, 79 participants with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure took 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract every day for 16 weeks. Their performance improved compared to the group in which the subjects were given a placebo (10). But in order to use hawthorn extract as a treatment for high blood pressure, more experiments and data are needed.
4. May lower blood cholesterol levels
Some studies show that hawthorn extract lowers blood cholesterol levels due to its flavonoids and pectins. (11).
High levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol) can trigger the development of atherosclerosis, or the formation of plaques in the blood vessels (12). Plaques completely block a blood vessel, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Mice given two doses of hawthorn extract had lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. (13).
Rats given hawthorn berry supplements for six weeks had lower levels of triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol. (14).
Another 6-month study of 64 people with atherosclerosis found that taking hawthorn extract significantly reduced the thickness of carotid artery plaques. (15).
But in order to include hawthorn in the official list of remedies for the treatment of vascular diseases, more thorough research is needed.
5. Helps normalize digestion
Hawthorn berries contain fiber, which improves metabolism, reduces the risk of constipation, and also acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods that feed and promote healthy gut bacteria that are vital for normal digestion (16).
Rats given hawthorn extract significantly reduced the time it takes for food to pass through the intestines. (17).
Also, compounds in hawthorn berries can enhance the production and activity of digestive enzymes necessary for digesting fatty and protein-rich foods (8).
6. Has anti-aging properties
Hawthorn berries may prevent premature skin aging caused by loss of collagen due to overexposure to the sun or ultraviolet radiation.
One study found that a mixture of hawthorn and ginseng extract prevented wrinkles by hydrating the skin. (18).
This is also likely due to the antioxidant content of hawthorn berries.
Hawthorn berries may prevent premature skin aging
If you add berries to your diet in moderation, there should be no side effects. If you abuse hawthorn, reactions such as increased sweating, headache, rapid heartbeat, gastrointestinal disorders, drowsiness are possible..
There is also evidence that hawthorn not useful in cases of heart failure: it increases the risk of its progression (19).
Therefore, before taking any hawthorn supplements or eating the berries, you should consult your doctor.
Hawthorn enhances the effects of blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and heart failure medications.
How to brew hawthorn
To make a hawthorn drink, take a saucepan, pour about 2 liters of water into it and bring to a boil. Then put about 6-7 tablespoons of dried fruits in a thermos and fill it with hot water. Do not cover immediately; leave uncovered for 10–15 minutes. After this, close the thermos and let the drink brew for 24 hours. Strain it and then drink it hot or cold. Add sugar or honey to taste.
What can be prepared from hawthorn
Yaroslav Klyuchevsky, a chef of the highest category, brand chef, says that hawthorn has been used in cooking for a long time and quite often, famous restaurants and chefs resort to this product during its season to diversify the menu.
Based on hawthorn, you can prepare sauces, jams, drinks, and use it with baked goods.
Hawthorn jam with chilli pepper
- Hawthorn, 1 kg
- Sugar, 800 g
- Vanilla sugar, 1 tsp.
- Cinnamon, 1 tsp.
- Chili pepper, 2 pods with seeds
- Water, 200 ml
Combine water and all dry ingredients, bring to a boil, then add hawthorn and cook for 35-40 minutes. Pour into jars.
Hawthorn drink with spruce shoots
- Dried hawthorn fruits, 1 cup
- Spring pine shoots, 1/2 cup
- Sugar, 1/2 cup (to taste)
- Water, 1 l
Soak the dried hawthorn overnight, boil for 40 minutes over low heat, add sugar and spruce shoots.
Hawthorn and pineapple sauce for meat
- Hawthorn, 1kg
- Pineapple, 1 kg
- Coriander (powder), 1 tbsp. l.
- Chili pepper (powder), 1 tbsp. l.
- Ginger (powder), 1 tsp.
- Sol, 2 h. l.
- Water, 500 ml
Boil the hawthorn, rub through a sieve and combine with finely chopped pineapple. After adding the dry ingredients, simmer for 45-50 minutes until tender.
WHO reports indicate that about 80% of the world’s population still relies on herbal medicines, and a number of such medicines have now found widespread clinical use. More than 2000 plants, including…