Reviewed & edited by Dr Jeffrey Lederman
Cholesterol is an essential fat needed for the brain and nervous system to function properly. The body’s cell walls, or membranes, need cholesterol to produce hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids that help to digest fat. Manufactured in the liver, cholesterol is also important for the creation of sex hormones.
While each person needs some cholesterol to function properly, high levels may cause health problems. Eating too many cholesterol-laden fats can lead to serious complications like heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications. In cases of high cholesterol, plaque may build up and cause the arterial walls to harden and thicken—a condition known as atherosclerosis. Furthermore, it is important to know that there are different types of cholesterol in the body.
The leaves, berries, and flowers of the hawthorn plant have been used to treat various diseases of the heart and blood vessels, such as chest pain, irregular heartbeat, high and low blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and high cholesteroli.
Research shows that hawthorn can lower cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad cholesterol”), and triglycerides in the blood. In an eight-week study conducted in Australia, patients with abnormal amounts of lipids in the blood were treated with hawthorn fruit. The results of the study showed that, due to hawthorn berry’s ability to simultaneously increase serum levels of HDL cholesterol and decrease the ratios of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol, hawthorn may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, hawthorn berries contain a wide range of flavonoids—such as hyperoside, rutin, quercetin, vitexin, epicatechin, catechin, and proanthocyanidins—which gives the berries antioxidant activity and equips them with diverse mechanisms of operationiii.
In addition, hawthorn fruit extract may lower cholesterol by increasing the excretion of bile, reducing the formation of cholesterol, and enhancing the receptors for LDLsiv.
You can chew fresh or dried hawthorn berries daily, or you can take them in capsules or tinctures. Methanol or alcohol extracts of hawthorn berries, leaves, and flowers also exist. Common doses used in hawthorn studies range from 160-1800 mg, with the most common doses tested in the range of 600-900 mg per dayv.
To use hawthorn as a natural therapy, consult a herbalist and speak to your local healthcare provider.
Written by Nicole Kagan
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- i HAWTHORN: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings – WebMD. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved August 10, 2014, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins–supplements/ingredientmono-527-hawthorn.aspx?activeingredientid=527&activeingredientname=hawthorn
- ii Rost, A. (2009). Homeopathy. Natural healing wisdom & know-how: useful practices, recipes, and formulas for a lifetime of health (p. 106). New York, NY: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers.
- iii Richards, B. J. (n.d.). Hawthorn for Your Heart. Wellness Resources. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http://www.wellnessresources.com/tips/articles/hawthorn_for_your_heart/
- iv HAWTHORN: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings – WebMD. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved August 10, 2014, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins–supplements/ingredientmono-527-hawthorn.aspx?activeingredientid=527&activeingredientname=hawthorn
- v Richards, B. J. (n.d.). Hawthorn for Your Heart. Wellness Resources. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http://www.wellnessresources.com/tips/articles/hawthorn_for_your_heart/
- Cholesterol Basics: Types, Risk Factors, Levels, and Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved August 10, 2014, from http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/cholesterol-basics
- Rosenson, R. (n.d.). Patient information: High cholesterol treatment options (Beyond the Basics). Retrieved August 8, 2014, from http://www.uptodate.com/contents/high-cholesterol-treatment-options-beyond-the-basics
- Rost, A. (2009). Homeopathy. Natural healing wisdom & know-how: useful practices, recipes, and formulas for a lifetime of health (p. 106). New York, NY: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers.
- Trivieri, L., & Anderson, J. W. (2002). Gastrointestinal Disorders. Alternative medicine: the definitive guide (2nd ed., p. 718). Berkeley: Celestial Arts.