Hawthorn has, for hundreds of years, been used throughout Northern Europe and parts of Asia as an effective natural hypertension treatment. Yet, in as little as two generations this effective natural remedy was almost forgotten having been replaced by pharmaceutical products. Following several scientific studies, the benefits and safety of hawthorn are now being recognized anew.
Of the many species of the shrub, crataegus orycantholdes is most commonly used to help lower high blood pressure. Hawthorn is a hedgerow shrub related to the rose and is common across Northern Europe and parts of Asia.
Why Treating Hypertension with Hawthorn was Almost Forgotten
There are three possible reasons for this:
- Traditionally, the leaves, berries and flowers were collected from wild hawthorn shrubs to make the extract used to treat hypertension. These are only available seasonally.
- The extract was made by the local herbalist and there were inconsistencies in the quality of the end product.
- Medical training in the twentieth Century leaned heavily toward allopathic medicine, which is now the prevailing norm in Western medicine. It is strongly influenced by modern pharmaceutical products, which have consistent quality. Nineteenth Century medical practitioners were more familiar with natural and herbal treatments, which their modern counterparts often viewed as unscientific and ineffective.
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in using herbs and other botanics to compliment Western medicine’s arsenal of treatments. Hawthorn extract is one such natural remedy that is coming back into popularity. Some hawthorn plantations have been established and are cultivated under strictly controlled conditions. Making the extract from the berries, flowers and leaves is also done under strictly controlled conditions to ensure a consistent and high quality product.
How does Hawthorn Lower Blood Pressure?
Hawthorn dilates blood vessels by blocking an enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). This action improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. Hawthorn is also a mild diuretic, which lowers blood volume, and this is another way hawthorn functions as a hypertension treatment. Because of this, you should only use this supplement under medical supervision if you are already taking any form of hypertension medication.
If your blood pressure is in the range of 140/90 to 160/100mmHg, and you are otherwise healthy and free of risk factors, your doctor might suggest that, in addition to improving your diet and taking more exercise, that you take a natural treatment such as hawthorn extract before considering prescribing one or more of the standard high blood pressure treatments.
Hawthorn extract is now widely available and is sometimes combined with other beneficial herbs and botanics such as ginko biloba, passion flower and cramp bark for broader heart and circulation support.
Other Medicinal Uses of Hawthorn
Hawthorn is not only used in the treatment and prevention of hypertension; it has also been found to be useful in treating congestive heart failure, lowering rapid pulse, improving arrhythmias, lowering cholesterol levels, and in the treatment for hardening of the arteries.
Hawthorn works by inhibiting the angiotensin-converting enzyme and also by reducing blood volume. These characteristics and combined with the lack of side effects make hawthorn an excellent natural treatment for reducing hypertension.
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