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Hawthorn is a common, thorny shrub that grows up to five feet tall on hillsides and in sunny wooded areas of North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. The hawthorn plant produces small berries, or haws, each May. Hawthorn berries are usually red when ripe but may be much darker.

Bioflavonoid complexes (including oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs), vitexin, quercetin, and hyperoside) found in the leaves, flowers, and berries of hawthorn are believed to be responsible for the plant's health benefits. Hawthorn is well-known for its cardiac benefits: improved blood flow in the coronary areteries and in the extremities. Hawthorn may also be helpful when used in connection with angina, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and some arrhythmias.

It has been confirmed by clinical trials that hawthorn extracts benefit individuals with early-state congestive heart failure.

In recent animal studies, results indicated that hawthorn may be able to lower cholesterol levels by reducing the production of cholesterol and by augmenting the body's ability to break down cholesterol.

Many of the active contituents found in hawthorn exhibit potent antioxidant properties.

Dosage and Administration

Hawthorn products standardised to contain either 4 to 20 mg flavonoids/30 to 160 mg oligomeric procyanidins, or 1.8 vitexin rhamnoside/10 procyanidins, are recommended. When supplementing with hawthorn make sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

Hawthorn for heart failure or angina may require at least six weeks of use, three times per day before an effect is noticed.

Precautions and Side Effects

Most researchers are in agreement that hawthorn use is relatively safe. Always follow recommended dosages.

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