Discovery and history

The hawthorn (Crataegus) is a medicinal plant whose medicinal use dates back to ancient times. The Greeks and Romans valued the hawthorn as early as antiquity. In the first century AD, the Greek physician Dioscorides mentioned its heart-strengthening properties in his work “De Materia Medica”. It was also used in traditional Chinese medicine to alleviate various ailments.

In the Middle Ages, it was mainly found in monastery gardens. Monks cultivated the plant and used it to treat heart disease. In the 19th century, the Irish doctor Dr. Green rediscovered its positive effect on the cardiovascular system and made the plant known in modern medicine.

Hawthorn: dosage and forms of administration

It can be taken in a variety of forms. The most common are tea, capsules, tablets, tinctures and extracts. Each form has its advantages:

  • Tea: Dried hawthorn berries are used to prepare hawthorn tea. A teaspoon of the herb is poured over hot water and allowed to steep for about ten minutes. One cup is recommended three times a day.
  • Capsules/tablets: These forms of administration are particularly practical when you are on the go. The recommended dose varies depending on the product, but is usually between 160 and 900 mg per day, divided into two to three doses.
  • Tinctures: These are alcoholic extracts of the plant. The usual dosage is 20 to 30 drops, two to three times a day.
  • Extracts: Standardized extracts contain a certain amount of the active ingredients. The usual dose is 160 to 180 mg of extract, taken twice a day.

Hawthorn: Treatment of diseases

It is used primarily for cardiovascular diseases. It has a positive effect on the heart by improving blood flow and strengthening the heart. Some of the most common indications are:

  • Heart failure: It can increase the heart’s contractility and thus improve its pumping action.
  • High blood pressure: The plant helps to regulate blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels and reducing resistance in the blood vessels.
  • Angina pectoris: It can relieve the symptoms of angina pectoris by improving the oxygen supply to the heart.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias: It can help stabilize irregular heartbeats.

Effect on the body

The active ingredients in hawthorn, such as flavonoids and oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), have antioxidant properties. They protect cells from oxidative stress and free radicals. They also promote vascular health by improving the elasticity of blood vessels, thus helping to lower blood pressure.

It improves blood flow to the heart muscle, increases oxygen uptake and strengthens the heart. By dilating the coronary arteries, the heart is better supplied with oxygen, which alleviates the symptoms of heart failure and angina pectoris.

When to take it and how to take it

To achieve the best possible effect, hawthorn is best taken as a course of treatment over several weeks. It is important to take it regularly, as it takes several weeks before the full effect is felt. Long-term use is often recommended, especially in the case of chronic cardiovascular disease.

Hawthorn: contraindications and precautions

Not everyone should take hawthorn. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are usually advised against taking it, as there are insufficient studies on its safety. People with low blood pressure should also be careful, as it can further lower blood pressure. In the case of severe cardiovascular disease, it should only be taken after consulting a doctor.

Additional medicinal plants and dietary supplements

To support the effect of hawthorn, other medicinal plants and food supplements can be taken:

  • Garlic: lowers blood pressure and improves blood circulation.
  • Ginkgo biloba: promotes blood circulation, particularly in the brain, and can improve memory.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These essential fatty acids support heart health and reduce inflammation.

Foods rich in hawthorn

Hawthorn itself is not found in food, but similar antioxidant and vascular-strengthening effects can be achieved by eating certain foods. These include berries, green leafy vegetables and nuts, which are rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants.

Possible side effects

Although hawthorn is considered safe, side effects may occur in rare cases. These include:

  • Gastrointestinal complaints: nausea, diarrhea or constipation may occur in sensitive individuals.
  • Dizziness and headaches: These symptoms may be caused by the blood pressure-lowering effect.

Overdose and its consequences

An overdose of hawthorn can cause serious health problems. Symptoms of an overdose can include severe dizziness, low blood pressure, heart palpitations and fainting. In extreme cases, an overdose can damage the heart. It is therefore important not to exceed the recommended dosage and to consult a doctor if in doubt.

Hawthorn: natural forms

It is used in various forms in naturopathy. In phytotherapy, it is used to treat cardiovascular complaints. Hawthorn is also used in homeopathy, usually in the form of globules or homeopathic drops that are administered in a diluted form.


Hawthorn is a versatile medicinal plant with a long tradition in cardiovascular therapy. Its positive effects on the heart and blood vessels are well documented and its use can in many cases contribute to an improvement in quality of life. However, it should always be taken with caution and, especially in the case of pre-existing conditions, in consultation with a doctor. The combination with other medicinal plants and a healthy diet can further enhance the effect of hawthorn.

Published on: 19. June 2024


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