Hawthorn (Crataegus oxycantha)


Hawthorn Overview:

Hawthorn is an attractive tree, growing to just a few meters in height and sporting small white flowers and bright red berries. It has become a popular garden across North America and in parts of Europe and Australia. The flowers and berries of the tree are used in Western herbal medicine to treat a range of cardiovascular conditions, and can be used as a preventative measure against heart disease.

Today, cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer in developed parts of the world. The benefits hawthorn offers towards cardiovascular function, and the plants prevalence world wide make it an important candidate for future medicines against heart disease.

Aside from cardiovascular disease, hawthorn is commonly used to treat anxious conditions and topically to treat acne and dry skin. The berries are high in vitamin C.

+ Indications

  • Hyperlipidemia
  • As a preventative treatment for coronary artery disease
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • heart palpitations
  • Age related heart disease
  • Angina pectoris
  • Tachycardia
  • Mild congestive heart failure
  • Recovery from myocardial infarction
  • Infections of diptheria and pneumonia
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Anxiety
  • As a cofactor for vitamin C

Topical Uses

  • Acne
  • To improve hydration of the skin and hair

+ Contraindications

  • Caution advised with cardiovascular patients

Herbal Actions:

  • Cardiotonic
  • Diuretic
  • Astringent
  • Hypotensive
  • Antioxidant
  • Collagen Stabilizer
  • Hypocholesterolemic
  • Anti-Arrhythmic

Main Uses:

The main use of hawthorn is for treating cardiovascular disease. The flowers and berries contain a slurry of chemicals with well studied effects on the cardiovascular system. Hawthorn dilates the coronary arteries, provides arteriole protection through antioxidant activity, regulates abnormal heart rhythms, and improves microcirculation.

All of these effects from a single plant make hawthorn an important herb for treating and preventing a range of cardiovascular conditions. Hawthorn is used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, treat heart palpitations and other forms of arrhythmia, improve the contractibility of the heart for congestive heart failure and improve diminished blood flow with COPD.


Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Berries, flowers, leaves

Family Name

  • Rosaceae


  • North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Vitexin
  • Quercetin
  • Hyperoside
  • Crataegolic acids

Common Names

  • Hawthorn
  • Crataegus
  • Aubépine (France)
  • Biancospino (Italy)


  • Unknown


  • Slightly Warm


  • Unknown


  • Sweet and Sour

Duration of Use

  • Long-term use acceptable.

Botanical Info:

Hawthorn is a member of the Rosaceae family of plants, which comprises some 91 genera and 4828 different species. The Crataegus genus contains 260 different species, several of which are used medicinally.


Level Of Research:


Clinical Applications Of Hawthorn:

The coronary artery dilating activity of hawthorn makes it useful for treating coronary artery disease and angina. The high level of safety with this herb, and broad range of other cardiovascular effects has made this a staple in those at risk for cardiovascular disease or those who have suffered a myocardial infarct in the past. Hawthorn is also useful for lowering high cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, treating atherosclerosis, heart palpitations, arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure.



May potentiate the effects of other cardiovascualr medications, though this is purely speculative, no evidence has been seen to support this at the time of this writing.


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For a list of references, visit the full hawthorn monograph.