According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease¹. The Mayo Clinic defines heart disease, or cardiovascular disease (CVD), as any “condition[s] that involve[s] narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as infections and conditions that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or beating rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.”²
One of the best herbs for supporting the cardiovascular system is Crataegus spp., or as it is more commonly know, Hawthorn. Derived from the Greek word kratus, which means means “strength”, this plant was named for the hardness of its wood. There are almost 300 different species of this plant found in North America, northern Europe and northern Asia³.
Traditional medicines used the fruit of this plant for years to treat hypertension, when associated with cardiac weakness, arteriosclerosis and angina pectoris. During the 1960’s this plant was studied more scientifically. Chemical constituents were isolated from the flowers, berries, and leaves of this plant, many of which were shown to affect the cardiovascular system individually. However, no single compound was found to be responsible for hawthorn’s great ability to tonify the heart4.
Current research has found this herb to be helpful in treating many cardiovascular diseases. A 2013 literature review of Crataegus by Wang et al., which sited 118 recently publish papers and other literature reviews on Hawthorn, found that the herb was beneficial in either human or animal studies because it has the following properties associated with it:
- Antioxidant activity
- Positive inotrope
- Anti-cardiac remodeling
- Anti-platelet aggregation
- Endothelial protective
- Reduction of smooth muscle cell migration and proliferation
- Protective effect against Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury
- Anti-arrythmic effect
- Lipid-lowering effect
- Decrease of arterial blood pressure
Since this plant has no known drug interactions and a very mild to moderate side effect profile, many reviews of this herb “support its inclusion in treatment strategies surrounding CVD, especially in the early stages of disease progression”³. If you suffer from any form of heart disease, speak with you physician about adding Hawthorn, Crataegus spp., this heart-loving herb, to your daily regimen.
5. Wang, Jie, Xingjiang Xiong, and Bo Feng. “Effect of Crataegus Usage in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: An Evidence-Based Approach.”