Researchers Report that the Herb Hawthorn May Benefit Patients with

BACKGROUND: Hawthorn (Crataegus species) has been used medicinally in Europe for many centuries and for more than 100 years specifically in the treatment of heart disease. The herb is rich in a variety of antioxidants, particularly flavonoids and oligomeric proanthocyanidins.

RESEARCH: Researchers reviewed the history, chemistry, and clinical trials of hawthorn, focusing on its use in heart failure (moderately severe New York Heart Association stage II heart failure). The researchers cited 54 studies on hawthorn, some of which showed it to improve heart function and reduce blood pressure, arrhythmias, and blood fats.

RESULTS: The researchers described 10 clinical studies, most double-blind and placebo-controlled, showing that hawthorn could decrease heart rate, improve exercise tolerance, reduce systolic blood pressure, and lower blood fats. No significant side effects were reported in these trials. However, dosages of some drugs may have to be modified when taking hawthorn.

IMPLICATIONS: Hawthorn has been shown to improve heart failure and other types of heart disease. The researchers wrote, "Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that hawthorn preparations are very effective in early stages of congestive heart failure, hypertension, angina, and minor arrhythmia."

Chang Q, Zuo Z, Harrison F, et al., "Hawthorn." Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2002;42:605-612.

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