9 Impressive Hawthorn Benefits & Uses

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The impressive health benefits of hawthorn include its ability to regulate blood pressure, reduce anxiety, protect the heart, improve digestion, boost respiratory health, reduce the severity of chest pains, improve mood, relieve intestinal infections, and aid in skin care.

What is Hawthorn?

Hawthorn is the fruit of the similarly named hawthorn shrubs and trees. There are a variety of different types of hawthorns, which produce slightly different fruit, but the most common variety has the scientific name Crataegus rhipidophylla. The hawthorn fruit or berry is tart, red to pink in color, and rather small, the size of a crabapple, perhaps. As a species, hawthorn was only native to the northern hemisphere, primarily in temperate regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. Although the hawthorn fruit resembles berries to a certain degree, they contain a stone, much like drupes, such as peaches and plums. [1]

In terms of the health benefits of these fascinating berry fruits, they were traditionally used in India, China, and a number of other countries as digestive aids, and they have also been used as a cardiovascular health booster in other traditional medicine systems. As this delicious fruit continues to receive more attention, additional research is ongoing to determine what exactly is so valuable about this easily overlooked fruit!

Couple of hawthorns in a basket on a wooden table

Hawthorn is a flowering shrub or tree of the rose family. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutritional Value of Hawthorn

The benefits of hawthorn are mainly derived from the unique mixture of vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds found in the berry. The most valuable components of hawthorn include significant levels of B-vitamins, including folic acid, as well as Vitamin C, vitexin, rutin, catechins, saponins, and various anthocyanidins that act as antioxidant compounds within the body. [2]

Health Benefits of Hawthorn

The health benefits of hawthorn include its ability to reduce chest pain, regulate blood pressure and boost the immune system, relieve intestinal infections, and give relief from skin conditions like eczema.

Reduces Chest Pains

The formal name for chest pains is angina, they can be extremely painful. If you suffer from angina, you should speak with a doctor, as it can often signal a cardiovascular issue. However, hawthorn can significantly lessen the pain of chest pains, as it has for thousands of years in traditional medicine. [3]

Improves Heart Health

There is a very good reason why hawthorn is primarily praised in both traditional and modern medicine for its positive impact on the heart; it can reduce the chances of cardiovascular conditions by increasing your stamina, reducing shortness of breath, and boosting energy and eliminating fatigue. The extensive list of organic compounds, saponins, catechins, and other beneficial antioxidants in these small fruits make it a very potent weapon against dangerous free radicals affecting heart health. [4]

Stabilizes Blood Pressure Levels

Hawthorn helps stabilize blood pressure. Whether your blood pressure is too high or too low, the compound mixture in hawthorn is able to establish a healthy blood pressure in your system, according to your body, making it valuable for both hypotension and hypertension. [5]

Boosts Immune System

In addition to the antioxidants eliminating dangerous toxins from the body, the vitamin C in hawthorn also helps in boosting the activity of your white blood cells to increase your overall health! [6]

Reduces Anxiety

In many traditional medicines, hawthorn was used for certain psychological conditions, including stress, and anxiety. Very often, hawthorn was offered to people who had recently had a broken heart, a loss of a family member, etc. because it was said to improve mood and mend a broken heart. Enzymatically, it turns out that hawthorn may have an impact on our hormonal levels, which would explain why so many cultures of the past believed in those health benefits! [7]

Increases Energy

Hawthorn is known to expand the coronary blood vessels, which allows for more blood to be circulated through the body, which can result in a higher level of energy or alertness. When all parts of your body are properly oxygenated, your cognitive skills improve, your energy levels rise, and your metabolism is able to work at optimal levels. [8]

Improves Digestion

There are various organic compounds in hawthorn that interact with our gut flora to improve our nutrient digestion, while the fiber in hawthorn improves our digestive process as a whole and eliminates any issues, such as constipation, bloating, cramping, and more serious conditions like ulcers. [9]

Skin Care

The antioxidant content in hawthorn makes it useful for applying topically to the skin, particularly on burns, sores, or acne. The organic compounds are anti-inflammatory in nature and are good for reducing itching on healing wounds or from other skin conditions, like eczema or psoriasis. [10]

Eliminates Intestinal Infections

Aside from boosting digestive health by improving nutrient uptake and eliminating constipation, hawthorn is also found to be good at eliminating any intestinal infections, such as tapeworms, that you may be suffering from. [11]

Culinary Uses

  • Due to their sweet and tart flavor, hawthorns are popularly used in beverages and candies, especially in Asian cultures.
  • In Europe and North America, it is common to eat hawthorns raw, cook them, or preserve them in the form of jellies or jams. The strong flavor holds very well in preserved form. [12]

Word of Caution: People experience upset stomach, sweating, fatigue, nausea, agitation, or dizziness, and more serious side effects include shortness of breath, severe allergic reactions, heart irregularities, and mood swings. Speak with your doctor before adding hawthorn to your diet, and speak to them immediately if you experience any of these side effects.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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