9 Impressive Health Benefits of Hawthorn Berry
Hawthorn berries are tiny fruits that grow on trees and shrubs belonging to the Crataegusgenus.
The genus includes hundreds of species, which are commonly found in Europe, North America, and Asia.
Their berries are packed with nutrition and have a tart, tangy taste and mild sweetness, ranging in color from yellow to deep red or black (1).
For centuries, hawthorn berry has been used as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart failure, and high blood pressure. In fact, it's a key part of traditional Chinese medicine.
Here are 9 impressive health benefits of hawthorn berry.
1. Loaded with Antioxidants
Hawthorn berry is one of the most widely known sources of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidant compounds found in plants (2).
Antioxidants in your diet help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can harm your body in high levels. These molecules can come from poor diet, as well as environmental toxins like air pollution and cigarette smoke (3).
- some cancers
- type 2 diabetes
- some infections
- heart problems
- premature skin aging
Though initial research is promising, more studies are needed to assess the effects of hawthorn on lowering disease risk.
Hawthorn berry contains plant polyphenols that have been linked to numerous health benefits due to their antioxidant properties.
2. May Boost Your Immune System
Hawthorn berry may have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that could strengthen your immune system.
In one test-tube study, hawthorn extract exhibited significant antibacterial action against Streptococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae, even killing some of the harmful bacteria (6).
Furthermore, some animal research indicates that the berry may have anti-inflammatory effects.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (8).
In a study in mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds (9).
What's more, research in mice with asthma showed that supplementing with hawthorn berry extract decreased inflammation enough to significantly reduce asthma symptoms (10).
Due to these promising results from animal and test-tube studies, scientists believe the supplement may offer immune-boosting benefits in humans. However, more research is needed.
In test-tube and animal studies, hawthorn shows antibacterial and anti-inflammatory potential that may boost the immune system. Still, more research in humans is needed.
3. May Lower Blood Pressure
In traditional Chinese medicine, hawthorn berry is one of the most commonly recommended foods to help treat high blood pressure (11).
In a 10-week study in 36 people with mildly elevated blood pressure, those taking 500 mg of hawthorn extract daily experienced a decrease in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a reading), while other groups showed no improvements (16).
Another study in 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure observed that those who took 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract daily had greater improvements in blood pressure than those in the placebo group (17).
Nonetheless, a similar study in 21 people with mildly elevated blood pressure noted no differences between the hawthorn-extract and placebo groups (18).
Some evidence suggests that hawthorn berry may reduce blood pressure by helping dilate blood vessels. However, not all studies agree.
4. May Decrease Blood Fats
Some data indicates that hawthorn extract may improve blood fat levels.
Cholesterol and triglycerides are two types of fats always present in your blood.
At normal levels, they're perfectly healthy and play a very important role in creating hormones and transporting nutrients throughout your body.
However, imbalanced blood fat levels, particularly high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol, can lead to plaque buildup in your blood vessels (atherosclerosis) (19).
If the plaque continues to grow, it could completely block a blood vessel, leading to heart attack or stroke.
In one study, mice given two different doses of hawthorn extract had lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as 28–47% lower liver triglyceride levels than those not receiving the extract (20).
Similarly, in a study in mice on a high-cholesterol diet, both hawthorn extract and the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin reduced total cholesterol and triglycerides about equally, but the extract also decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol (21).
Though this research is promising, more human studies are needed to assess the effect of hawthorn extract on blood fats.
Hawthorn extract has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in animal studies. More research is needed to determine whether it has similar effects in humans.
5. Used to Aid Digestion
Hawthorn berries and hawthorn extract have been used for centuries to treat digestive issues, particularly indigestion and stomach pain.
The berries contain fiber, which has been proven to aid digestion by reducing constipation and acting as a prebiotic.
One observational study in people with slow digestion found that each additional gram of dietary fiber decreased the time between bowel movements by approximately 30 minutes (23).
Additionally, a rat study observed that hawthorn extract dramatically increased the transit time of food in the stomach (24).
This means that food moves more quickly through your digestive system, which may alleviate indigestion.
Furthermore, in a study in rats with stomach ulcers, hawthorn extract exhibited the same protective effect on the stomach as an anti-ulcer medication (7).
Hawthorn berry has been used as a digestive aid for centuries. It can decrease the transit time of food in your digestive system. What's more, its fiber content is a prebiotic and may help relieve constipation.
6. Helps Prevent Hair Loss
Hawthorn berry may even prevent hair loss and is a common ingredient in commercial hair growth products.
One study in rats found that hawthorn stimulated hair growth and increased the number and size of hair follicles, promoting healthier hair (25).
It's believed that the polyphenol content in hawthorn berry causes this beneficial effect. Nevertheless, research in this area is limited, and human studies are needed.
Hawthorn berry is an ingredient in some hair growth products. Its polyphenol content may promote healthy hair growth, but more research is needed.
7. May Reduce Anxiety
Hawthorn has a very mild sedative effect, which may help decrease anxiety symptoms (26).
In another study in 264 people with anxiety, a combination of hawthorn, magnesium, and California poppy flower significantly reduced anxiety levels, compared to a placebo. Still, it's unclear what role hawthorn played, specifically (27).
Given that it has few side effects compared to traditional anti-anxiety medications, hawthorn continues to be researched as a potential treatment for disorders of the central nervous system, such as anxiety and depression (1).
However, more research is needed. If you want to try a hawthorn supplement to manage your anxiety, don't discontinue any of your current medications and be sure to discuss it with your healthcare provider.
Some studies indicate that hawthorn supplements may reduce anxiety. Still, more research is needed before recommendations can be made.
8. Used to Treat Heart Failure
Hawthorn berry is best known for its use alongside traditional medications in the treatment of heart failure.
A review of 14 randomized studies in more than 850 people concluded that those who took hawthorn extract along with their heart failure medications had improved heart function and exercise tolerance.
They also experienced less shortness of breath and fatigue (28).
What's more, a 2-year observational study in 952 people with heart failure found that those supplementing with hawthorn berry extract had less fatigue, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations than people who did not supplement.
The group taking hawthorn berry also required fewer medications to manage their heart failure (29).
Finally, another large study in over 2,600 people with heart failure suggested that supplementing with hawthorn berry may reduce the risk of sudden heart-related death (30).
People with heart failure are often encouraged to take hawthorn berry in addition to their current medications, as the supplement is considered safe with few side effects (28).
Hawthorn berry is beneficial for people with heart failure, as it has been shown to improve heart function and decrease symptoms like shortness of breath and fatigue.
9. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Hawthorn berry may be difficult to find at your local grocery store. However, you should be able to find it at farmers' markets, specialty health food stores, and online.
You can add hawthorn to your diet in many ways:
- Raw. Raw hawthorn berries have a tart, slightly sweet taste and make a great on-the-go snack.
- Tea. You can buy premade hawthorn tea or make your own using the dried berries, flowers, and leaves of the plant.
- Jams and desserts. In the Southeastern United States, hawthorn berries are commonly made into jam, pie filling, and syrup.
- Wine and vinegar. Hawthorn berries can be fermented into a tasty adult beverage or a flavorful vinegar that can be used to make salad dressing.
- Supplements. You can take hawthorn berry supplements in a convenient powder, pill, or liquid form.
Hawthorn berry supplements usually contain the berry along with the leaves and flowers. Although, some include only the leaves and flowers, as they're a more concentrated source of antioxidants than the berry itself.
Different brands and forms of hawthorn supplements have different dosing recommendations.
According to one report, the minimum effective dose of hawthorn extract for heart failure is 300 mg daily (31).
Typical doses are 250–500 mg, taken three times daily.
Keep in mind that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other governing body.
Therefore, it's nearly impossible to know the true effectiveness or safety of a supplement. Always purchase them from reputable sources.
Look for products that have received a seal of approval from independent organizations that assess supplement effectiveness and quality, such as United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Hawthorn berries can be eaten in many different ways or taken as a supplement. Supplements are not regulated, so it's important to buy them from sources you trust.
Side Effects and Precautions
Very few side effects have been reported from taking hawthorn berry.
Due to its potent effect on the heart, it can affect certain medications. If you're taking drugs for your heart, blood pressure, or cholesterol, speak with your healthcare provider before using hawthorn berry supplements.
Hawthorn berry is safe with few side effects. Speak with your healthcare professional before starting this supplement if you're on any heart medications.
The Bottom Line
Primarily due to its antioxidant content, hawthorn berry has numerous health effects, especially for your heart.
Studies indicate that it may improve blood pressure and blood fat levels, as well as treat heart failure when combined with standard medications.
In addition, it may boost your immune system, promote hair growth, reduce anxiety, and aid digestion.
If you want to give this powerful berry a try, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before taking it as a supplement.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
- 11 Reasons Why Berries Are Among the Healthiest Foods on Earth ... ›
- 35 Fun Ways to Eat Chia Seeds ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A Michigan bald eagle proved that nature can still triumph over machines when it attacked and drowned a nearly $1,000 government drone.
- Judge Rules Against Trump's Attempt to Log in America's Largest ... ›
- Trump Admin Guts Endangered Species Act in the Midst of Climate ... ›
- 17 States Sue to Stop Trump Admin Attack on Endangered Species ... ›
A professional cycling race in Australia is under attack for its connections to a major oil and gas producer, the Guardian reports.
- Burning All Fossil Fuels Would Lead to a 17 C Rise in Arctic ... ›
- All Renewables Will Be Cost Competitive With Fossil Fuels by 2020 ... ›
- G20 Nations Spend $77 Billion a Year to Finance Fossil Fuels ... ›
- People Eat 50,000+ Microplastics Every Year, New Study Finds ... ›
- Microplastics Are Increasing in Our Lives, New Research Finds ... ›
- Sharks Are Polluted With Plastic, New Study Shows - EcoWatch ›
- 73% of Deep-Sea Fish Have Ingested Plastic - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Launch Groundbreaking Study on Health Risks of ... ›
- 25% of Fish Sold at Markets Contain Plastic or Man-Made Debris ... ›
By Tara Lohan
Warming temperatures on land and in the water are already forcing many species to seek out more hospitable environments. Atlantic mackerel are swimming farther north; mountain-dwelling pikas are moving upslope; some migratory birds are altering the timing of their flights.
Numerous studies have tracked these shifting ranges, looked at the importance of wildlife corridors to protect these migrations, and identified climate refugia where some species may find a safer climatic haven.
"There's a huge amount of scientific literature about where species will have to move as the climate warms," says U.C. Berkeley biogeographer Matthew Kling. "But there hasn't been much work in terms of actually thinking about how they're going to get there — at least not when it comes to wind-dispersed plants."
Kling and David Ackerly, professor and dean of the College of Natural Resources at U.C. Berkeley, have taken a stab at filling this knowledge gap. Their recent study, published in Nature Climate Change, looks at the vulnerability of wind-dispersed species to climate change.
It's an important field of research, because while a fish can more easily swim toward colder waters, a tree may find its wind-blown seeds landing in places and conditions where they're not adapted to grow.
Kling is careful to point out that the researchers weren't asking how climate change was going to change wind; other research suggests there likely won't be big shifts in global wind patterns.
Instead the study involved exploring those wind patterns — including direction, speed and variability — across the globe. The wind data was then integrated with data on climate variation to build models trying to predict vulnerability patterns showing where wind may either help or hinder biodiversity from responding to climate change.
One of the study's findings was that wind-dispersed or wind-pollinated trees in the tropics and on the windward sides of mountain ranges are more likely to be vulnerable, since the wind isn't likely to move those dispersers in the right direction for a climate-friendly environment.
The researchers also looked specifically at lodgepole pines, a species that's both wind-dispersed and wind-pollinated.
They found that populations of lodgepole pines that already grow along the warmer and drier edges of the species' current range could very well be under threat due to rising temperatures and related climate alterations.
"As temperature increases, we need to think about how the genes that are evolved to tolerate drought and heat are going to get to the portions of the species' range that are going to be getting drier and hotter," says Kling. "So that's what we were able to take a stab at predicting and estimating with these wind models — which populations are mostly likely to receive those beneficial genes in the future."
That's important, he says, because wind-dispersed species like pines, willows and poplars are often keystone species whole ecosystems depend upon — especially in temperate and boreal forests.
And there are even more plants that rely on pollen dispersal by wind.
"That's going to be important for moving genes from the warmer parts of a species' range to the cooler parts of the species' range," he says. "This is not just about species' ranges shifting, but also genetic changes within species."
Kling says this line of research is just beginning, and much more needs to be done to test these models in the field. But there could be important conservation-related benefits to that work.
"All these species and genes need to migrate long distances and we can be thinking more about habitat connectivity and the vulnerability of these systems," he says.
The more we learn, the more we may be able to do to help species adapt.
"The idea is that there will be some landscapes where the wind is likely to help these systems naturally adapt to climate change without much intervention, and other places where land managers might really need to intervene," he says. "That could involve using assisted migration or assisted gene flow to actually get in there, moving seeds or planting trees to help them keep up with rapid climate change."
Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis. http://twitter.com/TaraLohan
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
The last Ice Age eliminated some giant mammals, like the woolly rhino. Conventional thinking initially attributed their extinction to hunting. While overhunting may have contributed, a new study pinpointed a different reason for the woolly rhinos' extinction: climate change.
The last of the woolly rhinos went extinct in Siberia nearly 14,000 years ago, just when the Earth's climate began changing from its frozen conditions to something warmer, wetter and less favorable to the large land mammal. DNA tests conducted by scientists on 14 well-preserved rhinos point to rapid warming as the culprit, CNN reported.
"Humans are well known to alter their environment and so the assumption is that if it was a large animal it would have been useful to people as food and that must have caused its demise," says Edana Lord, a graduate student at the Center for Paleogenetics in Stockholm, Sweden, and co-first author of the paper, Smithsonian Magazine reported. "But our findings highlight the role of rapid climate change in the woolly rhino's extinction."
The study, published in Current Biology, notes that the rhino population stayed fairly consistent for tens of thousands of years until 18,500 years ago. That means that people and rhinos lived together in Northern Siberia for roughly 13,000 years before rhinos went extinct, Science News reported.
The findings are an ominous harbinger for large species during the current climate crisis. As EcoWatch reported, nearly 1,000 species are expected to go extinct within the next 100 years due to their inability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. Tigers, eagles and rhinos are especially vulnerable.
The difference between now and the phenomenon 14,000 years ago is that human activity is directly responsible for the current climate crisis.
To figure out the cause of the woolly rhinos' extinction, scientists examined DNA from different rhinos across Siberia. The tissue, bone and hair samples allowed them to deduce the population size and diversity for tens of thousands of years prior to extinction, CNN reported.
Researchers spent years exploring the Siberian permafrost to find enough samples. Then they had to look for pristine genetic material, Smithsonian Magazine reported.
It turns out the wooly rhinos actually thrived as they lived alongside humans.
"It was initially thought that humans appeared in northeastern Siberia fourteen or fifteen thousand years ago, around when the woolly rhinoceros went extinct. But recently, there have been several discoveries of much older human occupation sites, the most famous of which is around thirty thousand years old," senior author Love Dalén, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Center for Paleogenetics, said in a press release.
"This paper shows that woolly rhino coexisted with people for millennia without any significant impact on their population," Grant Zazula, a paleontologist for Canada's Yukon territory and Simon Fraser University who was not involved in the research, told Smithsonian Magazine. "Then all of a sudden the climate changed and they went extinct."
- Sixth Mass Extinction Accelerating, Study of Land Animals Finds ... ›
- Biggest Animals Face Extinction Due to Hunting - EcoWatch ›
- Back From Extinction: Returning Threatened Pangolins to the Wild ... ›
The environmental disaster that Mauritius is facing is starting to appear as its pristine waters turn black, its fish wash up dead, and its sea birds are unable to take flight, as they are limp under the weight of the fuel covering them. For all the damage to the centuries-old coral that surrounds the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean, scientists are realizing that the damage could have been much worse and there are broad lessons for the shipping industry, according to Al Jazeera.
- 10 Years After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Threat of Disaster ... ›
- Oil Spill Disasters: How to Limit Environmental Damage - EcoWatch ›
- These Danish Companies Plan to Decarbonize Transportation ... ›
- Massive Oil Spill Turns Brazil's Beaches Black, Kills Marine Life ... ›
- Shipping Industry Could Replace Diesel Fuel With Ammonia to ... ›
Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.
For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.
"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."
To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.
"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."
So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.