Hawthorn Berry in Treating High Blood Pressure

Hawthorn berryOctober 14th, 2009 – Hawthorn berry (Crateagus oxycanthus) is used as an herbal supplement to help improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system, and has shown a unique function in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive subjects.

A collaboration of several different studies involving 855 patients using hawthorn extract, in addition to conventional treatments for chronic heart failure, show increased exercise ability, lower oxygen consumption by the heart, and less fatigue. (1) In another trial, 92 men and women, all with mild hypertension, were given hawthorn extract or a placebo three times a day for three months. The individuals receiving the extract had a significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure at the end of the three months when compared to the placebo group. (2)

The active compounds found in hawthorn responsible for this drop in blood pressure are procyanidins and flavonoids (specifically hyperoside). (3) Procyanidins found in hawthorn help increase nitric oxide (NO) release to stimulate NO mediated vaso-relaxation in the endothelial walls of blood vessels. (2) The NO molecules diffuse into vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), leading to a series of chemical reactions that eventually increase the vasodilation of such cells. (2) Hyperoside is the flavonoid in hawthorn that contributes to the functionality of procyanidins by destroying the free radicals that would otherwise disrupt the activity of NO. (1) Contrary to what might be expected from a supplement used to treat hypertension, hawthorn has actually been observed to have beneficial effects for people with hypotension. (5) One study found that an herbal drug, of which its main component was liquid hawthorn berry extract, actually increased the systolic blood pressure of orthostatic hypotensive patients twice as much as that of the control group. (6)

-Dylan Udy


1. Center for the Advancement of Health.
“Herbal Remedy, Hawthorn Extract, Can Help The Heart, Review Finds.”
ScienceDaily 23 January 2008. 11 July 2009

2. Anti-hypertensive Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods
Chen, Zhen-Yu et al.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2009 57 (11), 4485-4499

3. Plants and hypotensive, antiatheromatous and coronarodilatating action
Petkov V.
Am J Chin Med 1979; 7(3): 197

4. Crataegus Special Extract WS 1442 Induces an Endothelium-Dependent, NO-mediated Vasorelaxation via eNOS-Phosphorylation at Serine 1177
Brixius, Klara et al.
Cardiovascular Drugs Therapy (2006) 20: 177-184

5. Ayurvedic & Herbal Health Medicine. ìHawthorn Berry from Bioforce.î
11 July 2009

6. Efficacy and safety of a herbal drug containing hawthorn berries and D-camphor in hypotension and orthostatic circulatory disorders/results of a retrospective epidemiologic cohort study.
Hempel B., et al.
Arzneimittelforschung, 55(8), 443-50. (2005)

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