Hawthorn (Crataegus), is a genus of shrubs and trees in the rose family. Growing 2-15 m tall, the hedge has pretty white flower, thorny bushes, and edible red berries. The dense prickly bush is commonly used for hedging in England, from whence its name comes (haw = haeg = hedge), and one of its 280 known species produces a berry extract with important medicinal value.
Hawthorn berry extract was traditionally used as a diuretic in the treatment of kidney and bladder stones, but today it is one of the most widely prescribed heart remedies in Europe. The extract is a potent tonics for the heart. It has the ability to dilate heart blood vessels, and thereby increase both blood circulation and oxygen supply to the muscles. It increases heart pumping ability and decreases heart arrhythmias. The plant extract is furthermore said to block enzymes which injure the heart, and in generally enhance the circulation of the body.
The effects of Hawthorn on heart function makes it useful in treating a number of cardiac conditions The herbal medicine increases cardiac output in people suffering from congestive heart failure, and likewise, it is helpful for people who have a weakened heart due to infectious or other causes. It is useful in decreasing cardiac arrhythmias, especially those related to nervous discharge; it can improve recovery after a heart attack and decrease the buildup of plaque in cardiac vessels. Hawthorn can also decrease the symptoms of angina, and reduce cardiac symptoms in women resulting from menopause, anxiety, or nervous disorders.
The hedge berry extract has several additional beneficial effects on the nervous system. It has a calming effect and is an effective sleep aid for people suffering from insomnia. It is believed to improve concentration and memory in the brain, probably as a result of increased cerebral circulation. Unlike many medicines used to treat cardiac conditions, hawthorn has very few side effects, as compounds in the extract do not build up in the body.
Because it increases circulation and is a diuretic, hawthorn is often used in body detox formulas. For example, eHelps, a natural herbal product producer makes BioRestore, which promises to cleanse the body of unwanted toxins, and includes Hawthorn in the preparation. Detox preparations usually aim to clean the kidneys, liver and gut. The increased blood circulation promoted by Hawthorn prevents toxins from sitting and collecting in areas of sluggish circulation. The increased volume of blood, which the herb delivers to organs such as the bowel and kidneys, allows for greater transport of harmful chemicals and toxins out of the body.
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