Some Health Benefits of Hawthorn Leaf Extract

Hawthorn Extract

Common Names:  hawthorn, English hawthorn, harthorne, haw, hawthorne

Latin Name: Crataegus laevigata (also known as Crataegus oxyacantha), Crataegus monogyna

Hawthorn is a spiny, flowering shrub or small tree of the rose family. The species of hawthorn discussed here are native to northern European regions and grow throughout the world.

Historically, hawthorn fruit has been used for heart disease since the first century. It has also been used for digestive and kidney problems. More recently, hawthorn leaf and flower have been used as folk or traditional remedies for heart failure, a weakness of the heart muscle that prevents the heart from pumping enough blood to the rest of the body, which can lead to fatigue and limit physical activities. Hawthorn is also used for other heart conditions, including symptoms of coronary artery disease (such as angina).

The hawthorn leaf and flower are used to make liquid extracts, usually with water and alcohol. Dry extracts can be put into capsules and tablets.

Some main health benefits of Hawthorn Leaf Extract


Hawthorn contains a number of flavonoid compounds that may be useful for treating and preventing cardiovascular disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In particular, it boasts high levels of quercetin and oligomeric proanthocyanidins, or OPCs, which neutralize free radicals that can damage cells and promote arterial plaque formation, or atherogenesis. A laboratory animal study published in the March 2011 issue of the "China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica" found that four weeks of hawthorn supplementation caused changes that led the authors to conclude that hawthorn berry "could inhibit" atherogenesis. Further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results.

Congestive Heart Failure

Hawthorn has been used successfully to treat mild to moderate congestive heart failure in several reliable studies, according to New York University Langone Medical Center. A review of 10 previously published studies that appeared in the January 2008 issue of the "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews" found that hawthorn supplementation in conjunction with conventional treatment decrease oxygen consumption and increased exercise tolerance significantly. Study participants also reported less shortness of breath and fatigue with hawthorn supplementation. Researchers concluded that hawthorn shows potential for considerable benefit in the treatment of chronic heart failure.


Cholesterol-lowering effects of hawthorn are possible due to the herb's ability to increase the liver's absorption of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, according to R. Watson, co-editor of the book, "Botanical Medicine in Clinical Practice." A laboratory animal study published in the July 2012 issue of the journal, "BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine," found that supplementation with hawthorn leaves and flowers significantly reduced cholesterol levels. Further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results.


Side effects of hawthorn may include skin rash, nausea, headache, heart palpitations and dizziness. High doses may induce low blood pressure or irregular heart beat. Hawthorn can also increase the effectiveness of some heart medications and interfere with others. Consult your doctor before taking hawthorn to treat a health condition. Additionally, while you are taking hawthorn, avoid taking other herbs that affect heart function, such as cola, ginger, mate or shepherd's purse. Pregnant and nursing women, and children under 12 years, should not take hawthorn.