HAWTHORN

Benefits of Hawthorn- Amazing Herb- Cures Cardiovascular Diseases

Crataegus Species

Crataegus is a reputable genus that comprises of more than three hundred species. Its most common specie known to the globe, hawthorn is another particularly graceful and extremely dignified gift of our benevolent nature. Be it flowers or berries, all the parts of hawthorn hold unbiased importance. Just by glancing up at those trees a sudden gush of charisma sweeps down one’s spine that propels the person to admire its beauty.

For millennia, this plant has aided cultivars and people around the world by extending itself as an outstanding medicine because it bears copious pharmacological actions. Moreover, it is also equipped with ample nutrients that are extremely vital for marvelous sound health and well-being.

It is high in calcium, phosphate, magnesium, and sodium.           

Just because we know why you are here, let’s stop beating around the bush and permit the cat to let itself out of the bag.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen!
 You’re about to embark on a journey where you will get to meet the solutions to your problems.
Brace up for the benefits of Crataegus spp and let it heal you.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases have always been the talk of the town. People run around eating crap and what not just to end up with a disease that strongly pulls down their morale. Cholesterol loaded food is like a devil in the detail, it looks good from far but when it enters your system, it deteriorates your internal body system leaving you good for nothing.

The first step on the pavement of CVD is atherosclerosis that narrows your arteries later leaving no room for blood to flow. As a bonus, the patient gets the silent killer i.e. hypertension in silver plate and if the plaque mobilizes, a stroke proves to be the last nail in the coffin.

A stitch in time saves nine, they said.

CVD has never been a storm in teacup; it builds up silently and bolts from the blue. Now that you are building familiarity with CVD, we hope its breeding contempt in your conscience because this is exactly what we want.

An Irish physician first used hawthorn berries for CVD. Initially, berries were preferred more over the flowers but history has given us the shreds of evidence that both were used interchangeably to sweep the nuisance. Historical records notify that flowers, berries, seeds, and leaves were all used for the cause. [1] On phytochemical basis, leaves, berries, and leaves have similar chemical constituent but they differ in the presence of their respective amounts. Its parts possess flavonoids, hyperoside, vitexin-2-rhamnoside, procyanidin, phenolic acid, anthocyanins, and lignans.

Table 1: Depiction of areas of influence of cardiovascular system and role of hawthorn to encounter those disorders.

AntioxidantAntiatheroscleroticHypotensiveAction on cardiac cells
Direct scavenging of ROS (Reactive oxygen species)

Enhanced super oxide dismutase and catalase activity

Protective function for α-tocopherol

Protection of gap junction

Intracellular communication

Inhibition of lipoxygenase activity
Antioxidant activity

Downregulation of capsase-3

Regulation of lipoprotein lipase expression · 

Inhibits dietary cholesterol absorption

Raises excretion of bile acids
Antioxidant activity
  Vasodilation through NO synthesis

Weak ACE activity

Relaxes smooth muscles
Antioxidant activity

Downregulation of capsase-3

Inhibit cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) which increases coronary blood flow, positive ionotropy and slight increase in heart rate

Chronotrophic and antiarrythmic effects.

Crataegus – Aids in Digestion

Centuries have witnessed the usage of hawthorn as a helping hand in digestive problems and abdominal pain. It is loaded with prebiotics that enhances the growth of your normal flora which are of great importance in the maintenance of gastrointestinal health. The fiber-loaded berries are also always there to save you from constipation by increasing the bulk of stool.

A preclinical trial manifests the anti-ulcer activity of ethanolic extract of hawthorn in rats.  The study showed dose-dependent gastroprotective activity of ethanolic extract of drug that was comparable in efficacy with the reference drug.

No more hair loss

Another white magic that can be attributed to this magnificent plant is its anti-hair loss property. People of a diverse variety of race experience hair loss. Surprisingly, it is a common problem that usually seems to be on the tip of every person’s tongue.

Several breakthroughs in alopecia treatment and improvement in other special tonic have banged the markets but it all goes down in flames when you see the prices with no reliable guarantee of the treatment. 

Hawthorn, however, is a promising plant when it comes to the treatment of alopecia. It not only treats but also prevents future hair loss all the while promoting healthier hair growth to save you from the misery of uninvited baldness.

A preclinical trial showed that mountain hawthorn extract triggered the growth of hair, increased the number and size of hair follicles and stimulated healthy hair growth. So, it would not harm to conclude that the C. pinnatifida extract promotes hair growth by inducing anagen phase, which might be mediated by the activation of cellular signaling that enhances the survival of cultured hDPC and the increase of the ratio of Bcl-2 to Bax that protects cells against cell death.

Before going out to wander around in those good for nothing marts to buy those supplements and tonics, give a little thought to this wonder plant which is really very cost-effective and promises guaranteed results in the treatment of alopecia.

Anti-inflammatory response

This plant needs to be a little more in the limelight of research so that its pharmacological activities can make great use to produce therapeutic efficacy in humans in the area of interest. An inflammatory response is a host’s defensive mechanism against pathogens and is triggered by various microbial products such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS). [9] Not solely but your macrophages are responsible to take care of this matter. LPS triggers macrophages to produce proinflammatory mediators such as cytokines, chemokine, NO and prostaglandin (which is liberated by iNOS and COX-II enzyme.

Specie of hawthorn, Crataegus azarolus was taken as a subject of experiment and its leaf extracts were made to check its effect on proinflammatory mediators. To assess the potential anti-inflammatory properties of C. azarolus, leaf extracts, RAW 264.7 murine macrophage cells were used. These are capable of producing PGE2 upon stimulation with LPS. Cells were treated for 24 h with either LPS (100 ng/ml) alone (control) or LPS together with different concentrations (50 or 100 μg/ml) of aqueous, methanolic, and ethanolic crude extracts derived from fresh leaves. Ethanolic and methanolic extracts were more potent in terms of inhibition of COX-2 transcription since 50 μg/ml of either extract were sufficient to reduce COX-2 levels by about half. Surprisingly, there came a time when COX-II transcription was nearly lost on the dose of 100 μg/ml of either ethanolic or methanolic extract. [10] For iNOS, ethanolic extract presented itself as the most potent one in disturbing its transcription. The ethanolic extract was followed by methanolic extract and then aqueous extract. 

Further, by making use of ELISA technique, all the extracts exhibited potent impairment of PGE2 (Prostaglandin), with methanolic extract taking the first place.

In another animal model, it was concluded that CPEE (Crataegus pinnatifida Ethanolic Extract) can protect against allergic airway inflammation and can act as an MMP-9 modulator to induce a reduction in ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression. [11] This suggests that CPEE is highly potent in allergic asthma. 

These different studies strongly prove the feasibility of various extracts of Crataegus spp as a therapeutic drug for different allergic and inflammatory disorders. 

Antiviral properties

Yet another quality that can be attributed to this magical genus is its antiviral property. Viral infections are far more destructive and difficult to handle than bacterial infections. It easily proliferates inside your body, takes control of the cell’s internal machinery to reproduce itself and enjoys the perks while the patient suffers.

Above all, the antiviral drugs just suppress the symptoms while your immune system strives to combat the nuisance. Taking antibiotics to ward off viral infection is the biggest laugh of the century because antibiotics work against bacterial infections.

Flavonoid and proanthocyanidins from Crataegus sinaica (hybrid of two other Crataegus species) exhibit significant inhibitory activity against Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-I). [12]

Another study proclaimed its inhibitory activity against HIV. [13] Hyperoside, vitexin, 2″-O-rhamnosylvitexin, (4′”-O-acetyl)-2″-O-rhamnosylvitexin, epicatechin, (+)-taxifolin, 3-O-β-xylopyranosyl-(+)taxifolin exert their magical effects by binding to the protein coat of the virus itself or by inhibiting the transcription of HIV.

Reproductive System

Male fertility plays a significant role in conceiving. But approximately 7% of men are affected by infertility and are always looking around reliable treatments to change their lives. 

Various technological breakthroughs have immerged and are available, claiming to reverse the condition but at the cost that talks with skies. Furthermore, the person is not provided with any sort of guarantee, whether the reversal is going to be fruitful or not. Imagine spending your earned dollars being wasted on something that shows you the emoji of thumbs down and another laughing emoji appear with tears streaming down its nasty face. Of course, you will see stars circulating around your head with all that money gone.

Now imagine a different scenario where your infertility goes with the wind and your money stays in your pocket.

That’s right!

This reputable genus incorporates yet another magical plant that is ready to spread smiles on millions of faces with its fruitful effect on the reproductive system. A medicated serum was prepared from the roots of Crataegus cuneata and was administered to the patients of anthenospermia. It showed a significant increase in sperm’s progressive motility which renders it to be a perfect therapy for infertility.

On male rat models, another preclinical trial was carried out by treating the models with water decoction of roots of Crataegus cuneata. The treatment was continued for four weeks after which they were permitted to copulate with adult female rats. The rates of pregnancy, average numbers of embryos and luteum of female rats, relative weights of reproductive organs, sperm counts, sperm motility and viability were monitored carefully.  The histology and ultrastructure of testis and epididymis were observed, while the concentrations of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone (T) in serum and T in testicular homogenate were detected by radioimmunoassay. A remarkable increase was observed in the weight of testis and epididymis, sperm counts and motility.[14]

A little more researches are required for the preparation of such decoctions to finally market this product and allow the people around the world to grasp the treatment of infertility that is not so harsh on their pockets and promises sound results.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is one of the most disastrous public health of the twenty-first century. If we talk on a global basis, around 382 million of the population is suffering from this disease. It is one of the common causes of death nowadays. This disorder is characterized by several other high levels of glucose in the blood, known as hyperglycemia, which is either a result of deficiency of insulin or impairment of insulin’s receptors. [15] Type 1 DM (T1DM) is triggered by autoimmune destruction of pancreatic β cells, which leads to an absolute insulin deficiency, whereas type 2 DM (T2DM) typically is caused by insulin resistance along with insufficient insulin secretion. [15, 16] Islets of Langerhans play a key role in the regulation of blood glucose levels because they bring about the synthesis of insulin. The etiopathogenesis of both Type I and Type II remains idiopathic but there are few factors that affect the autoimmunity in childhood such as the death of β-cells of islets of Langerhans that hinders the production of insulin and results in diabetes.

A clinical trial included 55 patients of diabetes mellitus type 2 (30 males and 25 males) of age less than 45 years. [17] They were administered 2 capsules of hawthorn powder (500mg/capsule) for twelve weeks immediately after every meal.

Table 1.2 [17] : Effect of hawthorn on following parameters before and after its administration:

TestBefore administration (mg/dl)After administration (mg/dl)Percentage change after administration
FBG223.6 mg/dl183.34 mg/dl17%
HbA1C8.5 mg/dl7.2 mg/dl15%
Triglycerides235.5 mg/dl160 mg/dl32%
Cholesterol310 mg/dl187.6 mg/dl40%
HDL52.4 mg/dl69.2 mg/dl25%
LDL155.2 mg/dl115.5 mg/dl26%

A notable change can be visualized by a quick glance at the above mentioned table. The mean fasting blood glucose levels jumped down from 223.6mg/dl to 183.34 mg/dl, HbA1C reduced 15% (from 8.5mg/dl to 7.2mg/dl), triglycerides reduced 32% (from 235.5mg/dl to 160mg/dl), cholesterol reduced 40% (from 310mg/dl to 187.6mg/dl), HDL increased 25% (from 52.4mg/dl to 69.2mg/dl) and LDL reduced 26% (from 155.2mg/dl to 115.5mg/dl). 

This clinical trial discloses the anti-diabetic and anti-hyperlipidemic activity of Crataegus species. 

Miscellaneous 

Table 1.3 [18]: Several reputable clinical trials have been combined in the following table to portray the fruitful findings regarding the benefits of Crataegus species.

Nature of trialDiseaseNumber of patientsDosage and period of trialResult
Randomized, placebo controlled double blindHeart failure80Hawthorn extract 180mg for 6 weeksSignificant improvement in cardiac function, dyspnea, palpitation. Slight but notable improvement in in lowering blood pressure
Open trialHyperlipidemia30Hawthorn drink 250ml (0.56 mg flavones/100ml) for 4.3 weeks Reemarkable decrease in serum cholesterol lecels, LDL-C and triglycerides.
Double-blind, randomized, placebo controlMild to moderate anxiety264Combination of extracts of Crataegus oxyacantha and Eschscholtzia californica for 12 weeksRemarkably safe and more effective than placebo in treating mild to moderate anxiety.
Randomized, placebo controlled double blindType II diabetic and hypertensive patients80Hawthorn extract 1200mg for 16 weeksRemarkable reduction in diastolic blood pressure in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Crataegus genus is highly potent in correction and of many disorders that are presented as untreatable. What it needs is just a little more attention to slip into medicinal shape to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Also, its safety profile is highly commendable and very fewer toxicity cases have been reported ever since its usage has initiated. 

If you can read this whole article then you can surely understand the depth of importance of those disorders with light pocket because it is always good to save for the rainy days.

Inform all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full impression of what you do to regulate your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

This information could help clinicians and scientists develop novel target-specific and effective therapeutic agents that are deprived of major systemic side effects, so as to establish a better treatment regimen in the battle against these nuisances.

References

  1. Tassell, M.C., Kingston, R., Gilroy, D., Lehane, M. and Furey, A., 2010. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Pharmacognosy reviews4(7), p.32.
  2. Kingston, R.A., 2007. Phyotchemical Analysis of Selected Constituents of Crataegus Flos and Fruct. to Determine Whether Ethanol, Whiskey and Brandy Solvents Affect the Chemical Constituent Profile of the Herbal Preparations. Scottish School of Herbal Medicine.
  3. Kingston, R.A., 2007. Phyotchemical Analysis of Selected Constituents of Crataegus Flos and Fruct. to Determine Whether Ethanol, Whiskey and Brandy Solvents Affect the Chemical Constituent Profile of the Herbal Preparations. Scottish School of Herbal Medicine.
  4. Vanhaelen M, Vanhaelen-Fastre R. TLC-densitometric determination of 2,3-cis-procyanidin monomer and oligomers from hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata and C.monogyna) J Pharm Biomed Anal. 1989;7:1871–
  5. Tassell, M.C., Kingston, R., Gilroy, D., Lehane, M. and Furey, A., 2010. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Pharmacognosy reviews4(7), p.32.
  6. Corzo, N., Alonso, J.L., Azpiroz, F., Calvo, M.A., Cirici, M., Leis, R., Lombo, F., Mateos-Aparicio, I., Plou, F.J., Ruas-Madiedo, P. and Rúperez, P., 2015. Prebiotics: concept, properties and beneficial effects. Nutricion hospitalaria31, pp.99-118.
  7. Tadić, V.M., Dobrić, S., Marković, G.M., Ðorđević, S.M., Arsić, I.A., Menković, N.R. and Stević, T., 2008. Anti-inflammatory, gastroprotective, free-radical-scavenging, and antimicrobial activities of hawthorn berries ethanol extract. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry56(17), pp.7700-7709.
  8. Shin, H.S., Lee, J.M., Park, S.Y., Yang, J.E., Kim, J.H. and Yi, T.H., 2013. Hair growth activity of Crataegus pinnatifida on C57BL/6 mouse model. Phytotherapy Research27(9), pp.1352-1357.
  9.  Khan FA, Khan MF, Aziz F, Al KE. Inflammation and acute phase response. Int J Appl Biol Pharm Technol Page. 2010;1:312–
  10. Kallassy, H., Fayyad-Kazan, M., Makki, R., El-Makhour, Y., Hamade, E., Rammal, H., Leger, D.Y., Sol, V., Fayyad-Kazan, H., Liagre, B. and Badran, B., 2017. Chemical composition, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiproliferative activities of the plant Lebanese Crataegus azarolus L. Medical science monitor basic research23, p.270.
  11. Shin, I.S., Lee, M.Y., Lim, H.S., Ha, H., Seo, C.S., Kim, J.C. and Shin, H.K., 2012. An extract of Crataegus pinnatifida fruit attenuates airway inflammation by modulation of matrix metalloproteinase-9 in ovalbumin induced asthma. PLoS One7(9).
  12. Shahat, A.A., Cos, P., De Bruyne, T., Apers, S., Hammouda, F.M., Ismail, S.I., Azzam, S., Claeys, M., Goovaerts, E., Pieters, L. and Berghe, D.V., 2002. Antiviral and antioxidant activity of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins from Crataegus sinaica. Planta medica68(06), pp.539-541.
  13. Shahat, A.A., Ismail, S.I., Hammouda, F.M., Azzam, S.A., Lemiere, G., De Bruyne, T., De Swaef, S., Pieters, L. and Vlietinck, A., 1998. Anti-HIV activity of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins from Crataegus sinaica. Phytomedicine5(2), pp.133-136.
  14. Hu, L., Xu, H.M., Xiong, J.W., Tian, Y.H., Ming, Y., Xiong, F. and Xiong, C.L., 2006. Resistant effect of water decoction of root of Crataegus cuneata on male infertility induced by GTW in rats. Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi= Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi= China journal of Chinese materia medica31(18), pp.1521-1525.
  15. Baena-Diez JM, Penafiel J, Subirana I, Ramos R, Elosua R, Marin-Ibanez A, et al. Risk of cause-specific death in individuals with diabetes: A competing risks analysisDiabetes Care. 2016;39(11):1987-1995.
  16.  Suri RS, Mahon JL, Clark WF, Moist LM, Salvadori M, Garg AX. Relationship between Escherichia coli O157:H7 and diabetes mellitusKidney International. 2009;75(Suppl 112):S44-S46.
  17. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320264638_Effects_of_Hawthorn_on_HbA1C_and_lipids_levels_in_Jordanian_diabetic_patients_Type2 
  18. Kumar, D., Arya, V., Bhat, Z.A., Khan, N.A. and Prasad, D.N., 2012. The genus Crataegus: chemical and pharmacological perspectives. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia22(5), pp.1187-1200.

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