Heart Health: An Herbal Spotlight

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. In fact, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke every year. While that is a scary statistic, there is so much that can be done to preserve your heart health and even strengthen your heart if you have had a heart attack or stroke.


Here are some easy things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke:

  • Know your numbers- ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipid numbers regularly

  • Clean up your lifestyle- throw the cigarettes away, get more active, and do your best to eat the rainbow, daily.

  • Know your risk- It’s easy to think that we will never have a heart attack or stroke, the truth is we never know what could happen to us. But we can become more aware of risk factors like age, sedentary lifestyle, stress, etc.

  • Know your options- while antihypertensive (anti-high blood pressure) and cholesterol lowering medications can improve your heart health, there are more natural options, like lifestyle adjustments, diets, and herbs that can be used first before turning to pharmaceuticals.

HERBAL SPOTLIGHT: CRATAEGUS OXYCANTHA (HAWTHORNE)

Hawthorne, a flowering shrub that belongs to the rose family, is one of the best herbs to support and tonify the heart and circulatory system. Hawthorne works by normalizing the action of the heart based on what the heart needs. If it is beating too fast, it will work to slow down the heart rate. Is your heart beating too slow? No worries, hawthorne can help bring it up to speed.



Latin Name: Crataegus oxycantha

Common Name: Hawthorne

Parts used: Flowers, leaves, and berries

Actions: Antioxidant, adaptogen, cardiac trophorestorative, cardiotonic, hypotension, vasodilator, anti-arrhythmic, protects against myocardial damage (heart damage).

Medicinal Uses: Since the first century, Hawthorne has been used to strengthen and tonify the heart. Hawthorne can stimulate the heart to increase the heart rate. As a tonifying herb, it has been used to treat congestive heart failure, hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and angina (chest pain). In addition, it can be used for arthritis, fractures, and even osteoporosis.

Who should use this herb: Anyone looking to improve their heart health with botanical medicine. While more analysis is needed, research has shown that Hawthorne use causes limited adverse effects when prescribed and used appropriately.

Who should avoid this herb: Hawthorne may interact with anticoagulant (blood-thinning), beta blockers (like propranolol, metoprolol, etc), digoxin, and nitrates (like nitroglycerin) so they should be used with caution or avoided in people who are taking those drugs. There is not enough evidence to prove the safety of Hawthorne in pregnancy, lactation, or in children. Consult your physician.

How to use Hawthorne: Hawthorne can be used as a tea, capsule, or tincture. Hawthorne should be used for at least 2 months for treatment of heart conditions.

  • Tea: Steep 1 teaspoon of dried herb in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Strain and drink 1 cup, three times a day.

  • Tinctures/Capsules/Extracts: You can purchase a Hawthorne tincture at your local natural/health food store or online or have one formulated right here at IVY Integrative.


As previously mentioned, please consult a naturopathic doctor before self-prescribing herbs.


Until next time,


Dr. Sarah Ellis ND, INHC, LEC




Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is strictly for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult your physician and/or healthcare provider before beginning to use herbal products.

References:

  1. Weng WL, Zhang WQ, Liu FZ, and et al. Therapeutic effect of Crataegus pinnatifida on 46 cases of angina pectoris--a double blind study. J Tradit Chin Med 1984;4:293-94.

  2. Asher GN, Viera AJ, Weaver MA, et al. Effect of hawthorn standardized extract on flow mediated dilation in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults: a randomized, controlled cross-over trial. BMC.Complement Altern.Med 2012;12:26.

  3. Daniele C, Mazzanti G, Pittler MH, et al. Adverse-event profile of Crataegus spp.: a systematic review. Drug Saf 2006;29:523-35.

  4. Schroder, D., Weiser, M., and Klein, P. Efficacy of a homeopathic Crataegus preparation compared with usual therapy for mild (NYHA II) cardiac insufficiency: results of an observational cohort study. Eur.J.Heart Fail. 2003;5(3):319-326.

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