Hawthorn Berry Extract: Benefits and Side Effects - Vitamin & Herbal Supplements

Hawthorn Berry Extract: Benefits and Side Effects

Hawthorn Berry Extract is made from the tiny red berries that grow on the hawthorn shrub (Crataegus oxyacantha). Hawthorn berries—as well as the leaves and flowers—have been used in traditional medical systems since ancient times.

Hawthorn berry extract is widely used as a heart tonic, particularly in Europe. Reseach suggests that hawthorn extract may be useful as an adjunct therapy for chronic heart failure. Beneficial effects on symptom control and exercise tolerance have been seen in several controlled studies, although one large scale clinical trial failed to find any significant impact on mortality or sudden cardiac death over 24 months of use.

Hawthorn berries contain a number of antioxidants, including flavonoids and oligomeric procyanidins, which may be responsible for the extract’s effects on the heart and blood vessels. In addition, animal research suggests it could play a role in lowering serum cholesterol and protecting arteries from plaque.

Hawthorn extract is also promoted as an alternative treatment for angina and high blood pressure.

There are more mundane uses as well… for example, people on weight loss diets often use hawthorn extracts to reduce water retention.

Hawthorn berry supplements are available in capsules and tinctures. Teas can also be made from dried hawthorn leaves, flowers and berries. Standardized extracts are the most reliable form of any herbal supplement, and in the case of hawthorn berry, extracts should be standardized to contain 10% procyanidins and/or 1.8% vitexin rhamnoside.

And what about Hawthorn Berry side effects?

Hawthorn berry is considered to be among the safest herbal supplements. Some rare side effects may include nausea, rapid heartbeat or headache. There are some drug interactions possible with hawthorn berry, so people using the herb should consult a physician if they are taking any prescription medications.

For example, hawthorn berry may enhance the activity of the heart medication Digoxin. It can also counteract the effects of products, such as nasal decongestants, that contain phenylephrine. Phenylephrine constricts blood vessels, so the ability of hawthrone berry to dilate blood vessels will decrease the effectiveness of medications that contain it.

You can purchase hawthorn berry online, directly from one of our recommended online retailers, BodyBuilding.com.

Author: elissa

Elissa is a former research associate with the University of California at Davis, and the author/co-author of over a dozen articles published in scientific journals. Currently a freelance writer and researcher, Elissa brings her multidisciplinary education and training to her writing on nutrition and supplements.


  1. i wish more people received information as to the benefits of how hawthorn works for heart and circulatory distress instead of pharmaceuticals which actualy make people sick we believe in natural remedies the body accepts instead of synthetic drugs that the body rejects with miserable (side effects)

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  2. I am presently om warfarin and Plavix. will Hawthorn berry cause any problems for me ?

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    • Paul, this is definitely a question for your doctor or medical professional.

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  3. I was diagnosed with Venous Insufficiency three years ago. The recommended corrective action was to zap the outer veins of the legs and force the blood to the inner veins. Three of the valves in my legs were failing. My feet swelled up so much I could not get into any of my shoes. Elevating the legs did not help. Sleeping with the legs elevated did not help.

    I did my due diligence and researched alternative medicine. I am currently taking Atenolol to control high blood pressure.

    Hawthorn berries were my first choice. The are available from Wally World and not too expensive. I started taking 565mg three times per day. Within 3 days the swelling in the feet was almost gone. After two months I increased the dose to 1130 mg (capsules three times per day) The swelling totally went away – no laser surgery! It is now three years later and still in good shape. Tight socks will put a small indentation into the calf. Using diabetic socks solved that problem. I am not diabetic.

    No side effects of any kind. I had two friends who went through the laser procedure with no positive benefits to swollen feet. The second one I suggested he try the hawthorn berries but his ex-wife talked him out of it because it was not what the doctor recommended.

    I have experimented a couple of times by stopping the hawthorn berries for two days. The swelling started up again. Going back on hawthorn berries corrected the problem.

    My primary care physician just nodded and pointed out that there are many good and bad things on the internet. If this worked for me that was good. He could not recommend the treatment due to legal concerns. I recently visited with a cardiologist who was very interested in my results with hawthorn berries. I am looking for a more technical explanation for the observed results. The doctor is doing the same.

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