Well-known plant medicine: hawthorn was chosen as the medicinal plant of 2019

Well-known plant medicine: hawthorn was chosen as the medicinal plant of 2019

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Hawthorn was chosen as the medicinal plant of 2019!

Hawthorn has been known for generations as a medicine to support the heart and circulatory system. Based on many new findings on the effects and importance for herbal medicine, hawthorn was chosen as the medicinal plant of the year 2019 by the study group Development History of Medicinal Herbology at the University of Würzburg.

History of the hawthorn

In sagas and myths, hawthorn was ascribed miraculous abilities over 1,000 years ago. So Sleeping Beauty fell through the hawthorn into the hundred-year sleep. Hawthorn was also considered the home of good fairies. In the Christian era, hawthorn was a sign of hope. According to legend, even the crown of thorns of Jesus was made of hawthorn, where the association with life and death probably originated. However, the hawthorn impresses not only with the many mentions in the world of legends, but also through the centuries-long medical use and its associated power. Hawthorn species have been used medicinally since ancient times, for example against diarrhea, colic and for hemostasis. Various North American tribes already knew and appreciated the hawthorn's protective effect on the heart.

The first studies on the healing power of hawthorn took place in the United States in 1896. In his great “Textbook of Biological Remedies” from 1938, Gerhard Madaus wrote: “Crataegus is an excellent cardiac (heart remedy) that can be described as almost unsurpassable when myocardial weakness begins, especially in old age and in acute infectious diseases.”

From the 1970s, numerous applications for hawthorn extract were known, such as. B. in old-age heart, stress heart, high-pressure heart with and without signs of weakness, mild degrees of coronary insufficiency, cardiac muscle weakness after infectious diseases, rhythm disorders, circulatory disorders of the brain and heart attack (Hagers Handbook of Pharmaceutical Practice, 1973). In 1994, on the basis of available data, hawthorn leaves with flowers were seen by Commission E of the then Federal Health Office responsible for medicinal plants in the area of ​​application of the declining performance of the heart according to stage II according to NYHA.

Hawthorn extract as a traditional medicine

Due to the many years of experience, the harmlessness and the good tolerance of the active ingredient, hawthorn leaves with flowers were classified by the German regulatory authority in 2016 as a traditional herbal medicine. Based on many years of experience, hawthorn leaves with flowers can also be used for occasional nervous heart problems (e.g. palpitations, anxiety-induced extrasystoles) if a serious illness has been excluded by the doctor. Use for mild symptoms of stress and as a sleep aid is also advocated. Based on the known effects, the use of hawthorn extract could be very useful not only for functional (non-organic) heart complaints, but also for the first signs of heart failure and for the prevention of heart failure.

The leaves with the bright white flowers of the hawthorn bushes or trees are used to manufacture medicinal products from hawthorn. They contain important phytochemicals, such as the oligomeric procyanidins, which are responsible for the effect. Several species of hawthorn can be found in Central Europe, including the common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna Jacq.) And two-pronged hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata (Poir.) DC), which are used to manufacture medicinal products.

There are many effects of hawthorn on the heart and blood vessels

Numerous scientific studies in the past decades have clarified how hawthorn extract supports the cardiovascular function. The herbal active ingredient has a positive effect on the pumping power of the heart. The blood flow to the coronary arteries and the heart muscle is increased by stimulating the production of the vasodilator messenger substance nitrogen monoxide (NO) and inhibiting its breakdown. Hawthorn extract can also protect against cardiac arrhythmias by increasing the contraction power of the heart, improving the conduction of excitation and increasing the stimulus threshold. Likewise, the extract from hawthorn leaves with flower vessels keeps them elastic, so the age-related loss of elasticity of the arterial blood vessels is improved. Disease-related disorders of endothelial function (endothelium = inner wall of the blood vessels) are also reduced and peripheral vascular resistance is reduced.

There is an increase in resilience and shortness of breath when stress occurs later. Current studies have shown that the quality of life of patients taking hawthorn extract improved and physical performance increased (Härtel et al., 2014). (pm, sb)


1. Gündling PW: Hawthorn - new knowledge about an old medicinal plant. A multi-talent for heart and circulation. EHK 2017; 66: 208-214.

2. Härtel S, Kutzner C, Burkart M, Bös K: Influence of training and Crataegus extract WS 1442 on physical performance and quality of life with mild heart failure - a randomized controlled study. Z Phytother 2012 (Suppl 1): 17.

3. Härtel S, Kutzner C, Westphal E et al .: Effects of endurance exercise training and Crataegus extract WS®_1442 in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction - a randomized controlled trial. Sports 2014; 2 (3): 59-75.

4. Hager's Handbook of Pharmaceutical Practice. Complete (fourth) new edition, hersg. by P.H. List and L. Hörhammer, Springer-Verlag Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Vol. 4 1973: 330.

5. Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC): European Union herbal monograph on Crataegus spp., Folium cum flore. EMA / HMPC / 159075/2014. April 5, 2016.

6. Holubarsch CJF, Colucci WS, Eha J: Benefit-risk assessment of Crataegus extract WS 1442: An evidence-based review. On J Cardiovasc Drugs 2018; 18: 25-36.

7. Madaus G: Textbook of biological remedies, Thieme-Verlag Leipzig 1938, p. 1119.
8. Pittler MH, Guo R, Ernst E: Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008; (1): CD005312.

9. Wegener T. et al .: Importance of hawthorn extract in general practice - a current location assessment. MMW advances in medicine 2018; 160 (54): 1-7.

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