I’ve often said that some of the best heart health solutions come from nature, and blood pressure is no exception. One of my favorite natural solutions for supporting healthy blood pressure is hawthorn extract.
What is hawthorn? It’s a group of plants in the Crataegus genus. They are thorny shrubs or small trees with bright green leaves and white flowers—and most recognizably, bright red berries.
Hawthorn has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and European herbal medicine. In fact, some species of hawthorn are officially listed in the pharmaceutical encyclopedias in countries like Germany, France, England, and China—and with good reason. Hawthorn extract is one of nature’s most long-standing solutions for managing blood pressure as its use for heart health dates as far back as the 1st century BCE!
Hawthorn and Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers: your systolic pressure (the top number) and diastolic pressure (the bottom number). For most people, a healthy blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg.
If your blood pressure is higher than that, you will want to take steps to lower your blood pressure, and you can start by supplementing with hawthorn.
How does hawthorn work? Hawthorn extract, which can come from the leaves, flowers, and berries of the hawthorn plant, contains potent flavonoids and oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs) which have properties that are similar to angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. This class of medications works by slowing the activity of ACE so that it cannot convert angiotensin into angiotensin I, which is an extremely powerful blood vessel constrictor.
In people with arterial disease, ACE may be overactive, raising your blood pressure. ACE inhibitors also work by relaxing the blood vessel walls which helps to lower blood pressure levels. They also help to protect heart cells from being oxidized.
Hawthorn Blood Pressure Studies
In addition to serving as a natural ACE inhibitor, hawthorn extract research has found that hawthorn is associated with improvements in brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which is an indirect measurement of how much nitric oxide is being released by your body. Nitric oxide is essential for healthy blood pressure because it helps your veins and arteries to dilate and relax as they should.
Hawthorn’s mechanism of action has also been well-document in animal studies, showing that the procyanidins from Hawthorn extract are responsible for relaxing arteries. Hawthorn has also been seen to promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol in animal studies (Chang, 2002).
Is It Safe to Take Hawthorn with Blood Pressure Medications?
Since hawthorn extract helps to lower your blood pressure, taking it with your blood pressure medications may cause hypotension, which is low blood pressure. Hypotension can cause dizziness, nausea, fainting, fatigue, and more.
It’s always important to work closely with your doctor when adding any dietary supplement to your daily routine, including hawthorn extract. Plus, you never want to go off of your blood pressure medications without your doctor’s advice and guidance.
Dosage of Hawthorn for High Blood Pressure
How much hawthorn extract should you take for high blood pressure? I recommend taking 500 mg of hawthorn extract 2-3 times daily.
This is the hawthorn extract dosage I’ve found to be most effective for reducing peripheral vascular resistance by relaxing the blood vessels and lowering high blood pressure. Plus, by working as a natural ACE inhibitor, it helps to promote a regular heart rate and supports circulation in the heart.
Hawthorn extract also helps to improve your heart’s ability to pump blood. For this reason, hawthorn has been long recognized as a natural treatment for congestive heart failure.
The Bottom Line
Does hawthorn lower blood pressure? Yes, hawthorn extract is one of the most effective dietary supplements for keeping your blood pressure in the healthy range. That’s because hawthorn works as a natural ACE inhibitor, supporting healthy blood pressure.
Always check with your doctor before taking hawthorn. That’s especially critical if you’re taking prescription heart medications.