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Hawthorn – Ancient Heart Disease Remedy Proven To Work In Recent Scientific Studies
James Meschino DC, MS, ROHP
Archaeological evidence suggests that the leaves and berries of the hawthorn plant have been used medicinally since 7000 BC. In recent times hawthorn has primarily been investigated for its abilities to improve heart health and lower blood pressure. In fact, a number of well-controlled studies on humans demonstrate that hawthorn can strengthen the heart’s pumping action, improve blood flow to the heart muscle and help to reduce high blood pressure – three important functions in preventing heart attacks. When you consider the fact that hawthorn has virtually no side effects and that one in two men, and one in three women die for heart and vascular disease, you realize that taking a hawthorn-containing supplement may be a very good investment in your long-term health. If you are over the age of 45 its something you should really consider and here are the reasons why.
After 45 You Need A More Aggressive Strategy To Prevent A Heart Attack
After the age of 45 the body’s aging clock triggers a very important event – a decline in the body’s synthesis of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). As you may know CoQ10 is an important part of the cell’s machinery that allows the heart muscle (and other tissues) to convert food into energy.
Thus, after age 45, the heart muscles starts to get weaker due to a slowly emerging CoQ10 deficiency, which impairs the ability of the heart muscle to contract and pump blood with optimal force – the heart pump is simply getting weaker due to less efficient energy production (caused by reduced CoQ10 concentrations). As such, it is very prudent to take 30 mg of Co10 as a supplement beginning by age 45, and doubling this dosage (60 mg per day) by age 60. This allows you to put the piston back into the engine, allowing the heart muscle to maintain its strength and fire on all cylinders.
However, CoQ10 supplementation should be accompanied by supplementation with Hawthorn (ideally getting both ingredients from the same supplement), as the effects of Hawthorn enhance the effectiveness of CoQ10 and provide some additional heart health benefits that CoQ10 can’t provide. Because death from heart attacks and other vascular problems, as well high blood pressure, become a real threat after the age of 45, adding Hawthorn to the heart health cocktail makes good sense.
What The Studies Show
Here is what the active ingredients in Hawthorn have been shown to do in scientific trials:
- Hawthorn has been used in recovering heart patients and congestive heart disease patients to strengthen the heart muscle
- Hawthorn has been shown to open up (dilate) coronary blood vessels providing increased oxygen to the heart muscle and has helped alleviate the pain associated with angina in clinical studies
- Hawthorn has a relaxing effect on the blood vessels that has been shown to help reduce high blood pressure
- Ingredients in Hawthorn help prevent free radical damage to blood vessels and the heart tissues – an important feature in anti-aging
How Does Hawthorn Work?
Hawthorn’s health benefits are due to the active flavonoid compounds found in its leaves, berries and blossoms. These flavonoids are powerful antioxidants and are responsible for the red-to-blue colors found in hawthorn berries. These flavonoid compounds, like CoQ10, boost energy production within the heart muscle, stimulate the release of nitric oxide in the artery wall, which in turn, relaxes blood vessels and allows more oxygen to reach the heart muscle. Relaxing blood vessels also helps reduce high blood pressure and likely helps to prevent high blood pressure from developing as we age. The flavonoids in Hawthorn have also demonstrated other impressive ways in which it helps to reduce and prevent high blood pressure. Animal studies show that Hawthorn may even reduce blood cholesterol levels to a modest degree.
The Take Home Message
Heart attack and vascular diseases are the number one cause of death in our society. We know that there are many things an individual can do to reduce their risk of these problems such as:
- Keep your cholesterol low
- Maintain normal blood pressure
- Don’t Smoke
- Attain an ideal weight and stay aerobically fit
- Take a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral to achieve optimal levels of B-vitamins and antioxidants associated with a lower risk of heart disease
- Take an essential fatty acid supplement (containing flaxseed, fish and borage seed oil) each day to boost omega-3 fat intake, which is also associated with lower heart disease risk
In addition to these basic and fairly well-known prevention strategies, I suggest that after age 45 you take a combination supplement containing CoQ10 (30 mg) and Hawthorn (37.5 mg – standardized to 5% flavonoid content), as a means to keep the heart muscle strong and more youthful, and to help optimize blood flow within the coronary arteries, which provide oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle
Remember that Hawthorn also has blood pressure-regulating effects in addition to its benefits to the heart itself. These are all invisible, yet very important features in helping to prevent a heart attack and congestive heart failure as we age.
So, I hope you will take this information to heart, literally, and add CoQ10/Hawthorn supplement to your heart health program as many others have already done. Remember that at age 60 you should double the dosage for general prevention
* One final note of significance is that Hawthorn should not be taken by individuals who are on the drug digitalis or digoxin.
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