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Hawthorn (shan za)
What is hawthorn? Why do we need it?
Hawthorn belongs to the same botanical family as the rose.
An extremely common thorny shrub, it can reach a height of
five feet and grows on hillsides and sunny wooded areas across
the world. Hawthorn shrubs contain shiny leaves that grow
in a variety of shapes and sizes. Its flowers (white, red
or pink) grow in small clusters, followed by small red or
black berries that usually appear in the spring.
The leaves, berries and flowers are used medicinally. These
items contain bioflavonoids, which have a variety of cardiovascular
benefits, including a reduction in hypertension, increased
coronary artery blood flow and improved contraction of the
heart muscle. Large scale clinical trials have confirmed that
hawthorn is effective in treating patients with earl-stage
and mild congestive heart failure. Other smaller studies have
shown that it may help patients with angina and abnormal heart
How much hawthorn should I take?
Many herbalists recommend taking 80-300mg of a hawthorn extract,
either in capsule or tablet form, two to three times a day.
If traditional preparations are used, patients are recommended
to take 4-5 grams per day, or 4-5ml of a hawthorn tincture
three times daily.
When using hawthorn, make sure to take only standardized
hawthorn products. Look for a label that says the product
contains between 4-20mg of flavonoids and 30-160mg oligomeric
procyanidins, or 1.8% vitexin rhamnoside/10% procyanidins.
What forms of hawthorn are available?
Hawthorn comes in a variety of forms, including capsules,
tinctures, and fluid or solid extracts. Patients can also
make a hawthorn tea by combining dried cut hawthorn leaves,
flowers and berries in boiling water.
What can happen if I take too much hawthorn?
Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
Hawthorn is extremely safe. The American Herbal Products
Association has given hawthorn a class I rating, meaning it
is a safe herb with a wide dosage range. Nevertheless, it
is always wise to follow the recommended dosage. In addition,
patients who are pregnant or lactating should not take hawthorn.
Some studies have suggested that hawthorn may enhance the
effects of digitalis, a heart medication. People taking cardiac
medications should consult with their health care provider
before taking hawthorn or hawthorn-containing products.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
Bahourn T, Gressier B, Trotin
F, et al. Oxygen species scavenging activity of phenolic extracts
from hawthorn fresh plant organs and pharmaceutical preparations.
D. Hawthorn: the heart helper. Alternative & Complementary
Kowalchik C, Hylton W (eds.)
Rodales Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Emmaus,
PA: Rodale Press, 1998.
Tauchert M, Ploch M, Hubner WD. Effectiveness
of hawthorn extract LI 132 compared with the ACE inhibitor
captopril: multicenter double-blind study with 132 NYHA stage
II. Muench Med Wochenschr 1994;136:S27-S33.
Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield,
England: Beaconsfield Publishers, 1988, pp. 162-169.