encyclopedia

Hawthorn Flower

Scientific Names:     

Crataegus monogyna Jaquin emend. Lindman, C. laevigata (Poiret) de Candolle and/or other Crataegus species [Fam. Rosaceae]     

Forms:     

Dried hawthorn flower; Hawthorn flower standardized extract     

Traditional Usage:     

– Anti-aging Tonic
– Antioxidant
– Antispasmodic
– Circulatory Disorders
– Cholesterol
– Digestive Disorders
– Edema
– Free Radical Related Diseases
– Lowering LDL Cholesterol
– Nervous Disorders
– Swollen Ankles
– Tonic Herb
– Vascular Disorders
– Water Retention     

Overview:     

Hawthorn flower, as an herbal drug, consists of the dried flowers of Crataegus monogyna Jaquin emend. Lindman, C. laevigata (Poiret) de Candolle and/or other Crataegus species [Fam. Rosaceae] listed in valid pharmacopoeias or their preparations. Hawthorn flowers contain epicuticular waxes rich in four pentacyclic triterpenoids (ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, alpha-amyrin and beta-amyrin) known for their powerful activity against abnormal growths. Hawthorn flower is normally used in combination with hawthorn leaf for the treatment of vascular disorders. The Greek herbalist, Dioscorides, first reported the curative properties of hawthorn for the heart all the way back in the first century. Today, hawthorn is one of the most popular herbal medications in central Europe. Animal studies show that hawthorn reduces sudden death from vascular disorders. Many clinical and pharmacological studies have shown that hawthorn tonics can dilate coronary arteries thus improving the heart's blood supply. The efficacy of a standardized hawthorn leaf and flower extract was tested in a 24-week multicenter utilization observational study with 1,011 patients suffering from NYHA stage II vascular disorders (New York Heart Association criteria). Participants noted significant reductions in: fatigue, palpitations, exercise breathlessness, ankle edema (83%) and nighttime urination (50%). Almost 2/3 of the patients felt better or much better following the 24 weeks of treatment. More than 3/4 of the participating physicians noted a good or a very good efficacy, and 98.7% noted a good or a very good tolerance. Another clinical study with 132 stage II vascular disorder patients comparing a hawthorn leaf and flower extract (900mg per day of extract) to an adequate low dosage of the conventional drug captopril showed no significant differences between the hawthorn treatment and the conventional drug. Another clinical trial, using 1.6g of hawthorn daily (combined with passionflower, a herb with similar flavonoid profile), found significant improvements in several parameters.     

Active Ingredients:     

Hawthorn flowers contain: Epicuticular waxes containing approximately 48% pentacyclic triterpenoids such as ursolic acids, oleanolic acids and both free and esterified alpha- and beta-amyrins; alkanes; long-chain alcohols, aldehydes and fatty acids. The long-chain alcohol-fatty acid esters are made with carbon numbers ranging from C36 to C48 with esters largely based on the C16 fatty acid. Other compounds contained in the hawthorn plant include: heptahydroxyflavanbioside; neoategolic acid; nonacosan-10-ol. Hawthorn leaf and flower preparations contain: acetyl-vitexin-4'-rhamnoside; aesculin; aminopurine; ascorbic acid; ash; calcium; carbohydrates; beta-carotene; catechin; citric acid; l-epicatechol; fat; fibre; glucose; hyperoside; lauric acid; linoleic acid; linolenic acid; magnesium; phosphorus; potassium; oligomeric proanthocyanidins; procyanidin; protein; rhamnose; selenium; starch; sugar; tartaric acid; thiamin; vitexin; vitexin-4'-rhamnoside; catechin and epicatechin monomers and dimers; flavone-C-glycosides; other flavonoids including kaempferol, quercetin, apigenin and luteolin; rutin; orientin glycosides; sterols, triterpenes, and amines including phenylethylamine, 0-methoxy-phenethylamine and tyramine. Hawthorn preparations are rich in antioxidant flavonoids including hyperoside, vitexin-rhamnose, rutin, vitexin and oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). [Source: James A. Duke 1992. Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL]. Note: Procyanidins, the most common class of condensed proanthocyanidins, consist of chains of catechin and/or epicatechin units linked by 4-8 or 4-6 bonds.     

Suggested Amount:     

The recommended dosage for hawthorn flower is based on dosage requirements for leaf and flower preparations. Standardized dry extracts of hawthorn leaf with flower are taken with a daily dosage of between 160-900mg taken in two or three individual doses. This dosage corresponds to 30-170mg procyanidins, calculated as epicatechin, or 3.5-20mg flavonoids, calculated as hyperoside. Fluid extracts and tinctures of hawthorn leaf and flower are taken accordingly. Even with a low dosage, corresponding to 1.6g of hawthorn (15mg of flavone-C-glycosides and 28mg procyanidins), significant improvements in exercise capacity, reduced breathlessness and reduced plasma cholesterol levels have been seen in clinical trials. Brand name hawthorn extracts may also provide dosage recommendations based on standardized levels of active ingredients based on human clinical trials.     

Drug Interactions:     

Hawthorn extracts have significant cardiovascular effects and therefore may affect existing therapies such as for hypertension, hypotension and cardiac disorders. Hawthorn extracts should not be used to replace existing therapies for cardiovascular disease, unless under the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.     

Contraindications:     

Hawthorn extracts have significant cardiovascular effects and therefore may affect existing therapies such as for hypertension, hypotension and cardiac disorders. Seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner before taking hawthorn products in these cases. Hawthorn extracts may have uteroactivity and therefore should not be taken during pregnancy or lactation.     

Side Effects:     

When taken accordingly, hawthorn is ideal for long-term use as it generally produces no side effects and has no known toxicity. The minor rare side effects reported in clinical trials using commercial preparations of hawthorn have included nausea, fatigue, sweating and rash on the hands.  Fourteen side effects were noted. In two cases (abdominal discomfort and facial pains accompanied by tachycardia) a possible relationship with the hawthorn therapy was postulated, which however, was considered unlikely by the treating physicians.     

References:     

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J 2000. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Copyright American Botanical Council. Publ. by Integrative Medicine Communications, 1029 Chestnut Street, Newton, MA 02464. Pp. 182-192.
 
Griffiths DW, Robertson GW, Shepherd T, Birch AN, Gordon SC, Woodford JA. 2000. A comparison of the composition of epicuticular wax from red raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) and hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna Jacq.) flowers. Phytochemistry. 2000 Sep; 55(2): 111-6.
 
Tauchert M, Gildor A, Lipinski J. 1999. [High-dose Crataegus extract WS 1442 in the treatment of NYHA stage II heart failure.] Herz 1999 Oct; 24(6): 465-74; discussion 475; Erratum in: Herz 1999 Nov; 24(7): 586. [Article in German]
 
Tauchert M; Ploch M; Hubner W-D. 1994. Effectiveness of hawthorn extract LI 132
compared with the ACE inhibitor Captopril: Multicentre double-blind study with
132 NYHA stage II. Munch. Med. Wschr. 1994, 136, Suppl. 1, S27-S33.
 
Zapfe jun G. 2001. Clinical efficacy of Crataegus extract WS 1442 in congestive heart failure NYHA class II. Phytomedicine. 2001 Jul; 8(4): 262-6.