WHAT IS IT?
The leaf, flower and berry of several species of hawthorn are used medicinally, most often: Crataegus laevigata (Poiret) DC (synonyms: C. oxyacantha auct., C. oxyacanthoides Thuill.) and C. monogyna Jacq. The Greek meaning of Crataegus oxyacantha refers tohard (wood) and sharp thorn. References to hawthorn are extensive throught history and the shrub has been utilized in many ways including for wood cultivation as a hedge and flouring of liquor by the berries.
The first use of hawthorn in cardiac therapy is attributed to Dr Green, an Irish doctor who used a tincture of the fresh berries. With the increasing incidence of heart disease in the Western world, its use rapidly spread to other countries, notably France, the United States, England and Germany. In Western herbal medicine hawthorn is now considered to be the most significant herb for oschaemic heart disease and there is considerable objective evidence to support its status.
Increases force of myocardial contraction, increases coronary blood flow, reduces myocardial oxygen demand, protects against myocardial damage, hypotencsive, improves heart rate variability, antiarrhythmic.
Hawthorn berries have been traditionally used to treat heart problems, including hypertension with myocardial weakness, angina pectoris and tachycardia and other circulatory disorders (arteriosclerosis, Buerger's disease). The flowers and berries were also used as an astringent for sore throats and as a diuretic for kidney problems and dropsy. The fruit and bark were used by the Eclectics as a heart remedy for indications such as pain, praecordial oppression, dyspnoea, cardiachypertrophy, vavular insufficiency and anaemia. The fruit of other Crataegus species (C. pinnatifida, C. cuncata) have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve digestion, stimulate circulation and remove blood stasis.
SUMMARY OF ACTIONS
Cardiotonic (mild), cardioprotective, antioxidant, collagen, stabilizing, mild astringent, hypotensive, antiarrhythmic.
CAN BE USED FOR
INDICATIONS SUPPORTED BY CLINICAL TRIALS
Congestive heart disease due to ischaemia or hypertension; cardiac insufficiency (particularly corresponding to NYHA stages I and II); topically for acne (uncontrolled trial).
TRADITIONAL THERAPEUTIC USES
Used as a treatment for mild heart conditions (angina pectoris, coronary artery disease, cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension, myocardial weakness) and for prevention of arterial degeneration caused by atherosclerosis.
MAY ALSO BE USED FOR
EXTRAPOLATIONS FROM PHARMACOLOGICAL STUDIES
Antioxidant activity; co-factor for vitamin C intake; stabilization of connective tissue tone; reduction of cholesterol.
Cosmetics and hair care products for antiseborrhoeic, antiinflammatory activity and to increase hydration and elasticity of the skin.
Source: Materia Medica