- Hawthorn is a flowering shrub or tree of the rose family. It is native to Europe and grows in temperate regions throughout the world.
- Historically, hawthorn has been used for heart disease as well as for digestive and kidney problems. It has also been used for anxiety.
- Extracts from the hawthorn leaf, flower, or berry may be sold as capsules, tablets, or liquids.
How Much Do We Know?
- Hawthorn has been studied for heart failure in people. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump as much blood as it should.
- Not much is known about hawthorn for any other health conditions as there is little or no evidence.
What Have We Learned?
- Although some older, short-term studies suggested that hawthorn may have benefits in patients with heart failure, two longer term studies completed in 2008 and 2009—including a 2-year trial involving almost 2,700 people in 13 European countries—did not confirm these benefits. In these studies, unlike some of the older ones, patients were given hawthorn in addition to the recommended conventional treatments for heart failure.
What Do We Know About Safety?
- In most studies of hawthorn for heart failure, no serious safety problems have been reported. However, in one study, patients taking hawthorn were more likely than those taking a placebo (an inactive substance) to have their heart failure get worse soon after the study started. The reason for this is not clear, but one possibility is that hawthorn might have interacted with drugs the patients were taking.
- Side effects of hawthorn can include dizziness, nausea, and digestive symptoms.
- Hawthorn may interact in harmful ways with drugs, including some heart medications. If you’re taking medication and you’re considering using hawthorn, consult your health care provider.
Keep in Mind
- Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
- Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2008;(1):CD005312 [edited 2009]. Accessed at http://www.thecochranelibrary.com(link is external) on April 17, 2015.
- Hawthorn. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:182-192.
- Hawthorn. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com on April 17, 2015. [Database subscription].