Hawthorn extract is a popular herbal medicine in Europe and the USA. It is made from dried leaves, flowers and fruits of hawthorn bushes. Experiments show that the extract is capable of enabling the heart to beat more powerfully and increasing the amount of blood that flows through the heart’s muscles.
A group of Cochrane Researchers looked to see if hawthorn extract was better than placebo for treating patients with chronic heart failure. They identified 14 randomized control trials that compared the effects of adding hawthorn extract or placebo to conventional therapies. The trials involved a total of 855 patients and the data indicated that hawthorn extract:
- improved maximal workload,
- increased exercise tolerance,
- reduced oxygen consumption by the heart, and
- reduced shortness of breath and fatigue.
A few people reported mild nausea, dizziness and heart and stomach complaints.
“There is good evidence that, when used alongside conventional therapy, hawthorn extract can bring additional benefits,” says lead researcher Dr Ruoling Guo, who works in Complementary Medicine at Peninsula Medical School at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, UK.
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