Natural Heart Health Tips
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Copyright 2011 Donna Crow
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Hawthorn(e) Berry is a little berry that grows on Hawthorn bushes. The scientific name for Hawthorn is Crataegus species. It is sometimes spelled with an “e” on the end.

Historically it has been used to strengthen the heart. Famous herbalist Dr. Richard Schulze tells his own personal story regarding hawthorn berry and the heart. When he was a young man in his teens he was diagnosed with "incurable" heart disease, part of which was a faulty heart valve. Being a determined young man, and learning of the healing effects of hawthorn for the heart, he immediately began to munch on hawthorn berries all day long. In less than two years his heart was totally restored.

Dr. Schulze is just one of many who have experienced the profound healing abilities of
hawthorn. Clinical studies have revealed what the natural healers knew all along;
hawthorn is healing to the heart. At this site alone you can find a list of 32 clinical trials, 11 observational studies, and 24 animal studies.

What were some of the results? In one study, “Patients with cardiac insufficiency stage NYHA II, showed significant improvement in clinical symptoms like reduced performance in the exercise tolerance test, fatigue, palpitation & exercise dyspnea, ankle edema & nocturia by 83%.” An 83% improvement is huge!

Others studies found increased ability to exercise, quality of life improved, showed “promise as adjunctive agents for the treatment of left ventricular dysfunction,” decreased orthostatic fall in blood pressure, improved heart rate, reduced shortness of breath and edema, reduced anxiety. It was found to be “therapeutically equivalent with chemo therapeutics and also being devoid of any adverse effects.”(italics mine) An article listed at PubMed, (see link below) says that the results of meta-analysis of randomized trials using hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure suggest that there is a significant benefit from hawthorn extract as an adjunctive treatment for chronic heart failure.

All the studies we found showed the efficacy and safety of using hawthorn in the treatment of heart disease and no adverse drug reactions were reported. Nevertheless, when starting a new product, be sure to ask your pharmacists about any possible contra-indicaations.

Sometimes when looking for results from medical studies it can seem a little daunting and unfriendly. Some are written in foreign languages and some are just too technical for
non-medical people. However, if you look around you can find more layperson friendly
information. When I scrolled to the bottom of the HerbMed websites long list of Pub Med articles, I found an article by Christopher Hobbs entitled
Hawthorne For The Heart. I thought that sounded user friendly enough so I clicked on it and started reading. Mr. Hobbs takes information from complex medical papers and makes it understandable by the average person.

Here are a few quotes:

"The extract of hawthorn can increase blood flow to the heart muscle itself, helping to counteract one of the most common modern causes of death in industrial countries—heart attack due to lack of blood flow to the heart. In pharmacological tests on both animals and humans, hawthorn has been shown to improve the contractility of the heart muscle (which can lead to a stronger pumping action of the heart), increase cardiac performance and output, lower the peripheral vascular resistance (reducing the workload of the heart), steady the heartbeat (anti-arrhythmic effect), as well as increasing the heart's tolerance to oxygen deficiency, such as might happen during stress or excitement, or in diseases where the arteries are partially blocked."

He also reports, "With long-term use, hawthorn can safely help to strengthen and nourish the heart."

Here is a summary of the important clinical effects of hawthorn:

1) It dilates the arteries that supply the heart muscle itself with blood, oxygen, and fuel, roviding a better supply of these essential nutrients. This results, with continued use, in a stronger, more efficient heart beat.

2) It acts as a powerful free-radical scavenger, protecting the heart against the harmful effects of lessened oxygen; a common result of vascular disease, such as atherosclerosis.

3) It can help steady the heartbeat if it is irregular, and does not lead to dependence.

4) It has mild sedative activity, which may be useful where mild heart disease is combined with nervousness, hypochondria, etc., in which case it can be combined with lavender or lemon

When researching, if references to the original studies are not included in the article and you want to see the actual studies you can then write to the author of the article. Their contact information is usually obvious.

For more info on Christopher Hobbs:

Another layperson friendly site is:

Their information is based on scientific studies, but it is reported in a fashion which makes it easy to understand. Here is a little of what they report about hawthorn.

"Hawthorne Berries have been used since the 19th century to support the heart, and to normalize cardiovascular functions. Hawthorne increases the body's ability to utilize oxygen, and the heart's ability to utilize calcium. This herb can actually help regulate both high and low blood pressure, in addition to slowly breaking down cholesterol and fat deposits in the body. The bioflavonoids help strengthen the contractive force of the heart, and gently dilate & relax the coronary blood vessels, improving overall circulation. For this reason, Hawthorne Berries have been used to lower high blood pressure & high cholesterol, as well as increase low blood pressure.

When used to support weight loss programs, Hawthorne Berries help reduce water retention by expelling excess salt from the body. This botanical has also been known to reduce nervous tension, alleviate insomnia and aid digestion. Hawthorne can also be used to strengthen joint lining, collagen and spinal discs. "

For those who say 'prove it' and who prefer multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled
type studies, consider Nutrition Science News, the journal of natural products research and innovation. Here is a link to an NSN article on hawthorn that lists 23 studies.

You can chew fresh or dried berries daily, like Dr. Schulze did, or you can take them in
capsules or tinctures. Personally I like syrups or tinctures. This is a great site for syrup.

When Ray Sahelian was asked, "What form is best?" He said, "The methanol or alcohol extract of hawthorn berries seems to be more effective." (This is what we carry here at Transform Your Heart)

His answer to "What is the dosage?"

"The recommended daily dose of hawthorn berries is 160-900 mg of a native water-ethanol extract of the leaves or flowers (equivalent to 30-169 mg of epicatechin or 3.5-19.8 mg of flavonoids) administered in two or three doses."

Everything I have read says the berries, the leaves and the flowers all have the same therapeutic benefits, however, some parts are more potent than others. More potent, isn't always best. A mixture of all, is probably best but people have seen nearly miraculous results with the berries alone, which are reputed to be the 'weakest' part of the hawthorn plant.

(Dosages for any product would be determined by individual product instructions and your personal health practitioners recommendations.)
Hawthorn Berry Syrup
Natural Heart Health Product #2
Highlights of Hawthorn Research

* A four year study on the benefits of hawthorn, commissioned by the German Ministry of Health, found that it improves contractions in the veins and heart while dilating the heart. This increases blood flow in the heart as well as flow speed throughout the body for increased circulation to organs and musculature. The researchers concluded that hawthorn is best used for low heart function, congestion, arrhythmia and tightness in the chest and no side effects were noted (Hoffmann 1995).

* In a German clinical trial with 78 patients with class 2 congestive heart failure, hawthorn flower and leaf increased heart working capacity, lowered blood pressure and improved fatigue and endurance while relieving difficult breathing (Schmidt, et. al. 1994). Comparable results from other clinical trials for class 2 as well as class 3 patients have been reported (Hobbs & Foster 1990).

* In a controlled Chinese clinical trial with 46 patients suffering from angina, a Chinese variety of hawthorn decreased the number of angina attacks by 85% compared to 37% on placebo (Weilang, et. al. 1984). Other clinical trials have found comparable results for varieties of hawthorn (Weiss 1988) (Chang & But 1986).

* A German clinical trial with 18 healthy patients found that hawthorn lowered heart rate and blood pressure during exercise and maintained resting heart rate while elevations were noted in the control group (Hellenbrecht, et. al. 1990).

* Chinese laboratory and clinical trials have reported that hawthorn lowers cholesterol and triglycerides by improving excretion (Chang & But 1986). Hawthorn is also reported to increase urination (DJumlija 1994) (Hoffmann 1995), often an important modality in heart condinons.

* Laboratory studies suggest that hawthorn's actions on the heart and circulatory system may be created through effects on the central nervous system (Foldi, et. al. 1959). Oxygen levels increase in the heart and provide a better balance of oxygen supply and demand (Lianda, et. al. l984).
Don't smoke or use tobacco

Smoking or using tobacco is one
of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart attack. When it comes to heart disease prevention, no amount of smoking is safe. Smokeless tobacco and low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes also are risky, as is exposure to secondhand smoke.

In addition, the nicotine in cigarette smoke makes your heart work harder by narrowing your blood vessels and increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood. This increases your blood pressure by forcing your heart to work harder to supply enough oxygen. Even so-called "social smoking" — smoking only while at a bar or restaurant with friends — is dangerous and increases the risk of heart disease.

Women who smoke and take birth control pills are at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke than are those who don't do either. This risk increases with age, especially in women older than 35.

The good news, though, is that when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically within just one year. And no matter how long or how much you smoked, you'll start reaping rewards as soon as you quit.

From: Mayo Clinic
"The extract of hawthorn can increase blood flow to the heart muscle itself, helping to counteract one of the most common modern causes of death in industrial countries—heart attack due to lack of blood flow to the heart.
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