Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

How Healthy Is Hawthorn?

I have tried hawthorn berries as well as cutting my sodium intake for fluid retention and to lower my blood pressure.  Both have worked wonders!  How long and how often can I safely take the hawthorn berries? 

Answer (Published 11/13/2006)

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) - more accurately, hawthorn berry - is an herbal remedy from a shrubby tree native to Europe, North America and northern Asia. It has a long history of use to treat hypertension, atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure, and heart arrhythmias and was included in the U.S. Pharmacopeia until the 1930s.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Supplements & Herbs - If you are interested in supplementing your diet, and want to take the mystery out of choosing vitamins, try Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor. Visit today for your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

The red berries of hawthorn contain phytonutrients called anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, antioxidants that strengthen the walls of blood vessels. Extracts of hawthorn berries, leaves and blossoms also contain compounds that have a tonic effect on the heart and vascular system. Products available in the United States include hawthorn leaves, flowers and berries, sometimes in combination. Look for products standardized to at least 1.8% vitexin, also known as vitexin-2"-rhamnoside, the primary active ingredient in hawthorn.

You can safely take hawthorn berry extracts indefinitely. My colleague Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements and women's health, confirms that toxicity is quite low, and no adverse effects are known with long-term use.

Overall, however, hawthorn berry preparations haven't been as well studied as those of hawthorn leaf and flower. As a matter of fact, although hawthorn berry has been shown to be an effective treatment for angina (chest pain that can occur when blood cannot freely pass through narrowed coronary arteries) Germany's Commission E no longer recognizes its use. That commission now approves only preparations of hawthorn leaf with flower.

Very little research in the United States has been done on hawthorn berry using modern methods. If hawthorn is working for you, use a supplement that contains the leaves and flowers as well. While there is probably no harm in taking it, I wouldn't rely on hawthorn berry extract alone for treatment of any heart-related problems.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here