Knowledge: Hawthorn Berry (Crataegus)

Hawthorn Berry (Crataegus)

The Hawthorn species is a member of the family Rosaceae and genus Crataegus. Hawthorn is a common thorny shrub in the rose family that grows up to 5 feet tall on hillsides and in sunny wooded areas throughout the world. Its flowers bloom in May. They grow in small white, red, or pink clusters. Small berries, called haws, sprout after the flowers. They are usually red when ripe, but they may also be black. Hawthorn leaves are multi-row coils, simple, lobed and have a straight or toothed edge. They grow spirally positioned on long shoots and they are organized in clusters on spur shoots on the branches or twigs. The leaves have lobed or serrated margins and the shape is variable. The border of the flowers is at pseudo-umbrella. Each flower has from 5 to 25 anthers, 5 calyxes and 5 petals and the upper calyx does not have flowers. Hawthorn berries are picked fully ripe in autumn before the first frost. Hawthorn berry is often macerated in herbal vinegar and syrups, infused as hawthorn tea, or used in tincturing.

Hawthorn fruit is rich in biologically active ingredients. It contains compounds with bioactive components such as organic acids, flavonoids, mucoxanthin, polyphenols, triterpenoids, and trace elements. Flavonoids are the most abundant and wide-ranging class of compounds in hawthorn. Currently, more than 60 flavonoids have been isolated from hawthorn, including the oxidized (chrysin, rutin, and quercetin) and reduced (proanthocyanidins, i.e., catechin derivatives) types. The main phenolic acid in hawthorn is chlorogenic acid (8410 ~ 13826.7 μg/g), accounting for more than 80% of the total phenolic acid. Triterpenoids and their derivatives in hawthorn were isolated and identified in the first studies on hawthorn in the 1960s. Hawthorn is a group of plants rich in triterpenoids, and some pharmacological studies have shown that these components have important effects such as cardiac strengthening, increasing coronary flow and improving circulation. And the presence of triterpenoids in the fruit may be the main reason for their anticancer activity.


Hawthorn berry is often macerated in herbal vinegar and syrups, infused as hawthorn tea, or used in tincturing. This flavorful red berries have been used in candies, jams, jellies, wines, cordials, bakery, meat products and are widely available in many forms as dietary supplements.

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May reduce blood pressure

In vivo study on the effects of hawthorn for hypertension in type 2 diabetes patients taking prescribed drugs
Subject Patients with type 2 diabetes (n = 79)
Duration 16 weeks
Dosage 1200 mg hawthorn extract daily
  • Hawthorn extract
  • Placebo
Parameters analyzed Blood pressure
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • Diastolic blood pressure showed a significant reduction of 2.6 mmHg in the hawthorn group compared with the placebo group (P = 0.035)
  • No significant difference was found between treatment responses for systolic blood pressure: a paired t-test of baseline versus outcome showed a non-significant (P = 0.096) decline of 3.6 mmHg in the hawthorn group.
Functions Hawthorn reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in type 2 diabetes patients.

Hypolipidemic effect

In vivo study on the hypolipidemic activity of hawthorn fruit in rabbits fed a high cholesterol diet
Subject White male rabbits (n = 24)
Duration 12 weeks
Dosage 2.0 g/100 g hawthorn fruit powder
  • Fed with reference diet that contained no added cholesterol (NC)
  • Fed with high cholesterol diet (HC)
  • Fed with HC diet supplemented with 2.0 g/100 g hawthorn fruit powder (HC-H)
Parameters analyzed Enzymatic analysis
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • .Serum TC level in the HC group was 27.8% higher at wk 8 and 23.4% higher at wk12 than that in the HC-H rabbits (P < 0.05). Similarly, the serum TG level in the HC group was significantly higher by 27.6% at wk 8 (P < 0.05) and 22.2% at wk 12 than that in the HC-H rabbits.
  • In contrast, serum HDL-C level in HC rabbits was significantly lower than that in NC and HC-H groups at wk 8 and 12 (P < 0.05).
Functions Hawthorn fruit possessed hypolipidemic activity.

May reduce anxiety

In vivo study on the effect of Crataegus pinnatifida (Shan Zha) on stressed mice
  • Mice subjected to Unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS)
  • 12–17 mice per group
Duration 3 weeks
Dosage once daily
  • Treated with saline
  • Treated with escitalopram
  • Treated with novel herbal treatment (NHT) which consists of four herbs: Crataegus pinnatifida (Shan Zha), Triticum aestivum (Fu Xiao Mai), Lilium brownii (Baihe), and the fruit of Ziziphus jujuba (Da Zao)
  • Treated with Shan Zha
  • Treated with Fu Xiao Mai
  • Treated with Da Zao
  • Treated with Baihe
Parameters analyzed
  • Elevated plus maze (EPM)
  • Tail suspension test (TST)
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • Shan Zha treated mice spent more time in the open arms of the maze in comparison to saline-treated mice (p = 0.008)
  • Shan Zha treated mice spent less time immobile compared to saline-treated mice (p = 0.005), similar to escitalopram- and NHT-treated mice (p = 0.021 and p = 0.020, respectively).
Functions Treatment with Shan Zha reduced depression and anxiety-like behaviours in stressed mice.

Aids in digestion

Hawthorn is a common herbal remedy for indigestion, and its herbal tonics and extracts have been shown to improve gastrointestinal motility. The phenolic substances in hawthorn, especially phenolic acids, play an important role in the digestive system due to their stable structure. Hawthorn berries stimulate bile and gastric secretions, aiding in the digestion of stagnant food in the GI tract, especially that which is rich in fats or protein.

Hawthorn Berry

Hawthorn Berry (Crataegus) Powder

  • Improve digestion
  • Prevent hair loss
  • Lower blood pressure
  • May reduce anxiety
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