Traditional Chinese medicine has contributed numerous medicinal plants that today are being studied scientifically to verify their viability.
The case of hawthorn, known as “shanzha” in traditional medicine, has historically been used in numerous problems.
For example, it was used as a medicinal product to improve digestion and the cardiovascular system.
Today, some of its phytochemical components have been isolated and some potential has been shown to improve the health of the body, so it corroborates the function of its use since ancient times.
That is why we wanted to dedicate an article to the medicinal importance and properties of hawthorn, corroborated by Western medicine and that can be used as a complement to modern medicines.
Therefore, today’s hawthorn is used many parts, such as leaves, for their properties in the improvement of the circulatory system, or berries, used in popular gastronomy as an alternative to other sugary products.
Characteristics of hawthorn
Hawthorn, also known vulgarly as hawthorn, belongs to the rosaceae family (a very broad grouping of plants) and its scientific name is Crataegus monogyna.
Its origin is wide, since the presence of hawthorn has been found in Asia, Africa and Europe. However, where the properties of hawthorn have been given more use has been in the Asian continent, although today there are several Western investigations of the compounds of this medicinal plant.
Collection of the properties of hawthorn
The importance of the properties of hawthorn are also linked to the opportune moment of collection.
Cash crops as a medicinal plant are mainly found in countries such as Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, etc.
In these plantations, the best floral branches (in spring) and adult leaves are usually chosen, since they contain a large concentration of phytocompounds interesting for medicine.
As for the berries, they are collected in full maturation and are used for their qualities for gastronomy and for the preparation of desserts.
The properties of hawthorn are collected in the concentration of each of the compounds that we are going to mention below.
Mainly, its medicinal power is due to the presence of different glycoside flavonoids.
The vitexin, also found in the passion flower (genus Passiflora) is a chemical compound of interest as an antioxidant and free radical complexant.
The quercetin, for example, it is a very abundant flavonol that acts as a fat cell reducer (along with the resveratrol present in grapes).
Properties of hawthorn
We are going to analyze the main properties of hawthorn that have been studied or are in the process of being investigated, with a priori conclusive results of benefit to the human being.
Improvement of heart failure
Something that was previously applied in traditional Chinese medicine, such as the properties of hawthorn for the improvement of the cardiovascular system, has been demonstrated in different trials of magnitude.
The use of hawthorn berries have shown a reduction in congestive heart failure, with a relief of the symptoms related to this problem (tiredness, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc.)
This demonstration was carried out with the consumption of 900 mg of the berry extract, concluding that hawthorn acted on the heart cells, with an increase in its activity.
The different concentrations of flavones are what can activate the flow of electrolytes in these cells and allow a greater response in the function of cardiac enzymes.
Blood pressure regulation
Linked to the enzyme enhancement effectAt the cardiac and cellular level, the properties of hawthorn can also have a direct effect on improving blood pressure.
Specifically, a study was conducted in 2002 on 38 subjects previously diagnosed with hypertension, consuming 500 mg of hawthorn extract compared to placebo.
The results, after 10 weeks, showed a significant improvement in diastolic blood pressure, finding no evidence of improvement in placebo.
Reduction of high cholesterol
Modern clinical studies look for the relationship of different medicinal plants and their effect on cholesterol.
This disease has earned the position of main problem in Western countries, due to the abuse of substances rich in sugar and an increasingly sedentary life.
Specifically, research to evaluate the properties of hawthorn has focused on seeing the response to bad cholesterol or LDL and the level of triglycerides in the blood.
An Australian research concluded that hawthorn berries acted on the levels of HDL cholesterol (considered as good), increasing its value. In addition, it also managed to reduce bad cholesterol or LDL. [STUDIO 1]
Therefore, this indirectly contributes to a positive improvement of the cardiovascular system.
High antioxidant activity
The antioxidant power of hawthorn is found in the concentration of flavonoids and other compounds of plant origin.
Specifically, there is a high concentration of the groups of oligomeric procyanidins, with a high antioxidant power characterized by their concentration in vitamins A, C and E.
These properties of hawthorn have a positive effect reducing inflammation, improving circulation and strengthening the immune system.
Its effect against diseases such as atherosclerosis, diseases related to nervous tissue or allergic processes where histamine is triggered is currently being studied.
How to use the properties of hawthorn
One of the most common ways to take advantage of the properties of hawthorn is through an infusion of different parts of the plant.
As we have seen, most clinical trials also used berries to look for proven benefits.
In the infusion of hawthorn albar, usually flowers are usually used, although we can also choose fresh leaves and stems.
In some specialist centers or the internet, you can also buy hawthorn extracts in the form of capsules, as we have also seen for other medicinal plants. More comfortable to consume and an option for those who do not have much time to prepare infusions or tinctures.
The pure hawthorn extract it is also a very interesting alternative. This extract, with a pleasant taste, can be applied in juices, yogurts and drinks to take advantage of all its benefits.
Side effects and precautions
As they always occur in all types of medicinal plants, there are contraindications for people sensitive to the concentration of some flavonoids, fatty acids and polyphenols of plant origin.
Most studies conducted on this plant declare a low incidence of side effects. Normally, there has been 1 mild case for every 44 patients who have taken this plant for several weeks.
These side effects are linked to diarrheal processes, fatigue, stomach upset, respiratory distress or allergic reactions.
In any case, it is strongly recommended to consult with a medical specialist before making the decision to introduce hawthorn into the diet.