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Happier Hearts with Hawthorn
By Dr. Jen Morganti, NEEDS Education Director

Hawthorn extract is known to benefit patients with chronic heart failure, as shown in several published studies. A meta-analysis was conducted to review all the studies together to determine the general consensus on how effective the herb really is. The researchers reviewed 10 published studies on the herb, also known as Crataegus oxyacantha. The goal in this meta-analysis was to determine if the herb was better than a placebo for treating patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). CHF is caused by atherosclerosis, which puts stress on the heart and forces it to work harder. The heart struggles to pump adequately, and fluid accumulates in legs and lungs.

Overall, the researchers determined that hawthorn is significantly more effective than a placebo at improving exercise tolerance, and relieving shortness of breath and fatigue. It also causes a beneficial decrease in the "pressure-heart rate product," which measures how much oxygen the heart uses. Side effects were minor and infrequent. Clinical research has identified the beneficial compounds responsible for hawthorn's activity. These compounds include flavonoids, such as vitexin 4'-rhamnoside, O-glycosides, luteolin-7 glucoside, hyperoside, quercetin, and rutin.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jan 23;(1):CD005312.

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