Latin Names – Crataegus laevigata (also known as Crataegus oxyacantha), Crataegus monogyna
Hawthorn is a spiny, flowering shrub of the rose family. The species of hawthorn discussed here are native to northern European regions and grow throughout the world. The hawthorn leaf and flower are used to make liquid extracts, usually with water and alcohol. Dry extracts are put into capsules and tablets.
Historically hawthorn fruit has been used as an herbal remedy in the hope of improving heart, digestive and kidney problems.
More recently, hawthorn leaf and flower are being researched for their potential use as an herbal remedy for heart failure, a weakness of the heart muscle that prevents the heart from pumping enough blood to the rest of the body, which can lead to fatigue and limit physical activities.
Research studies indicate that hawthorn leaf and flower may be effective for milder forms of heart failure. There is not enough scientific evidence to determine whether hawthorn works for other heart problems.
Side Effects and Cautions
- Hawthorn side effects can include upset stomach, headache, and dizziness.
- Drug interactions with hawthorn have not been thoroughly studied. It was once thought that hawthorn interacted with the heart medicine digoxin. However, a very small study in people without heart conditions found no interaction, but evidence is limited.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health to help ensure coordinated and safe care. Complementary or alternative therapy should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.
- Busse WR, Juretzek W, Koch E. Hawthorn (Crataegus). In: Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker; 2005:337–347.
- De Smet PA. Herbal Remedies. The New England Journal of Medicine.
- Hawthorn. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on July 5, 2007.
- Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata, C. oxyacantha, C. monogyna, C. penagyna). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on July 3, 2007.
- Hawthorn. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:182–191.
For More Information
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and NCCAM, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Web site: ods.od.nih.gov
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Hawthorn fact sheet, Created December 2006, Updated May 2008