Herbal Meds

Hawthorn, an alternative herbal treatment for heart disease

Where does Hawthorn come from?

Hawthorn is a shrub that can grow up to nine meters high, and in Europe and America it was used for centuries as a divider along the edges of property lines.

Hawthorn produces pretty white flowers and bright red berries, but it also grows large thorns and the flowers can smell like rotting meat.

The use of Hawthorn as a modern herbal medicine started in the 19th century when an Irish physician treated heart disease very successfully using Hawthorn.

What are the Benefits of Hawthorn?

Hawthorn is an herbal medicine that directly benefits the workings of the heart. Hawthorn dilates blood vessels, increases the heart's energy supply and improves the heart's pumping ability.

The reason behind Hawthorn's effectiveness is an abundant supply of compounds called flavonoids which function as potent antioxidants.

Hawthorn widens arteries by interfering with the workings of an enzyme called ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme), which constricts blood vessels. By increasing blood flow to the arteries, Hawthorn is an excellent herbal remedy for people who suffer from angina or high blood pressure.

Hawthorn can be used by people who suffer from mild congestive heart failure as this herbal medicine blocks enzymes that weaken the heart muscle.

Several studies have shown that Hawthorn is effective to treat cardiac arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat.

People who suffer from shortness of breath and fatigue due to heart failure reported that these symptoms improved dramatically with the use of Hawthorn.

Hawthorn has powerful antioxidant properties, which makes it a popular herbal medicine used to treat atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty materials, also called plaques, in blood vessels that can cause chest pain (angina) and heart attacks. Plaque buildup in arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain can result in stroke.

A tincture made from the berries of the Hawthorn plant is used as an herbal medicine to remove LDL, or "bad" cholesterol from the bloodstream.

Hawthorn is also considered to have mildly calming effects on the nervous system which is useful considering that stress and nervousness often accompany cardiovascular problems.

What are the side effects of Hawthorn?

Please consult your medical practitioner prior to using any herbal medications should you be under their care.

People who do not suffer from heart disease should not use Hawthorn as it can cause very low blood pressure which in turn can cause dizziness and fainting.

Hawthorn has been found safe to use in conjunction with other conventional medications prescribed to treat heart disease.

Hawthorn has been given a class 1 safety rating by the American Herbal Products Association, which indicated that it is a very safe herbal medicine.

Side-effects have been very rare, but can include headache, sweating, nausea and fatigue.

Do not use Hawthorn if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

Hawthorn can enhance the activity of Digoxin, a medication used for irregular heart rhythms.

How do I use Hawthorn?

Depending on the type of heart condition, dosages of Hawthorn range from 300 to 450 mg a day in pill form and from one teaspoon to one tablespoon of Hawthorn tincture daily.

People at risk of heart disease can take a 100 to 150 mg preventative dose daily.

To decrease the symptoms of heart failure, take 160 to 900 mg Hawthorn for at least 6 weeks. These dosages should be standardized to contain 2-3 percent flavonoids and 1, 8 percent standardized extract of vitexin.

If you have to take large doses of Hawthorn, it works better to divide the daily recommended amount into three dosages.

Hawthorn can take a couple of months to build up in your system and to produce noticeable results.

When purchasing Hawthorn, make sure that it contains at least 1, 8 percent standardized extract of vitexin, which is the main heart-protective ingredient in this herbal medicine.

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