SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Crataegus oxyacantha L., C. laevigata (poir.) DC, and C. monogyna Jacquin.
Family: Rosaceae

COMMON NAME(S): Hawthorn, English hawthorn, haw, maybush, whitethorn

Hawthorn is a tall-growing shrub that bears white flowers, red berries and large vicious thorns - those of which are rumored to have been used to weave the crown of thorns that Christ wore at the crucifixion.

The Hawthorn plant produces small berries, called haws, which sprout each May after the flowers of the hawthorn plant bloom. Today, hawthorn berries are one of the most valuable medicinal herbs used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and circulatory disorders.


The use of hawthorn dates back to Dioscorides, but the plant gained widespread popularity in European and American herbal medicine only toward the end of the 19th century.The flowers, leaves, and fruits have been used in the treatment of either high or low blood pressure, tachycardia, or arrhythmias.The plant is purported to have antispasmodic and sedative effects. Hawthorn has been used in the treatment of atherosclerosis and angina pectoris. Hawthorn preparations remain popular in Europe and have gained some acceptance in the US

Botany :- Hawthorn is a spiny bush or small tree that grows up to 7.5 m in height. Its deciduous leaves are divided into 3 to 5 lobes. The white, strong smelling flowers grow in large bunches and bloom from April to June. The spherical bright red fruit contains one nut (c. monogyna) or 2 to 3 nuts (c. oxyacantha).

Uses of Hawthorn

Hawthorn has been used to regulate blood pressure and heart rhythm, to treat atherosclerosis and angina pectoris and as an antispasmodic and sedative. Hawthorn in combination with other drugs is given for cardiac problems such as palpitations, angina, and rapid heart beat. Studies have shown that the herb restores blood pressure to normal, not only lowering high blood pressure but also raising blood pressure that is low.

Drug Interactions: Hawthorn may pharmacodynamically interfere with digoxin or digoxin monitoring. Consult a physician for dosing information.

Side Effects of Hawthorn

Hawthorn is reportedly toxic in high doses, which may induce hypotension and sedation


Hawthorn products standardized to contain either 4 to 20 mg flavonoids/30 to 160 mg oligomeric procyanidins, or 1.8% vitexin rhamnoside/10% procyanidins, are recommended. When supplementing with hawthorn make sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

Hawthorn for heart failure or angina may require at least six weeks of use, three times per day before an effect is noticed.


The acute parenteral LD of Crataegus preparations has been reported to be in the range of 18 to 34 mg/kg, with that of individual constituents ranging from 50 to 2600 mg/kg. Acute oral toxicity has been reported to be in the range of 18.5 to 33.8 mg/kg. In humans, low doses of hawthorn are usually devoid of adverse effects. No serious adverse drug reactions have been reported from hawthorn, and it appears to be safe and effective for CHF. However, higher doses have the potential to induce hypotension and sedation.The health professional and user must be aware of the potential of hawthorn to affect heart rate and blood pressure. Hawthorn may pharmacodynamically interfere with digoxin.This proposed interaction has not been documented clinically. Since digoxin has a narrow therapeutic index, it would be prudent for patients taking digoxin to avoid hawthorn.

Hawthorn extract may increase the intracellular concentrations of cyclic adenosine monophosphate by influencing the activity of the enzyme phosphodiesterase, and it also may influence other mechanisms that activate adenylcyclase.At least one report is available on hypersensitivity reaction to hawthorn, and toxiderma as a result of the fruits of the plant.

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