NMU – 224 Hawthorn in the Adjunctive Management and Prevention of High Blood Pressure, Heart Failure and Arrhythmia: The 2017 Review
Nutrition/Natural Medicine Update No 224 (December 22, 2021)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Hawthorn in the Adjunctive Management and Prevention of High Blood Pressure, Heart Failure and Arrhythmia: The 2017 Review
Source: Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (2017)
I’m a big believer than individuals over the age of 45 would benefit from taking a supplement each day that contains the combination Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and the herb known as Hawthorn. The body makes CoQ10, which it uses to help convert food into energy within our cells, including our heart muscle cells. But, by age 45 the body’s synthesis of CoQ10 has declined to the point where most tissues experience less than optimal amounts of CoQ10, and the result is a decreased ability to synthesize an optimal amount of energy. When this happens in heart muscle fibers, the heart can no longer contract with optimal force, which contributes to the development of congestive heart failure – the number one cause of hospital admissions in people 65 and older. Studies show that taking CoQ10 supplements can maintain and replenish more optimal tissue levels of CoQ10, enabling the heart muscle to continue to pump blood with more optimal force. This appears to be an important way to help prevent the development of congestive heart failure. Studies also show that Co10 administered to patients with congestive heart failure can often be very effective as an adjunctive therapy. CoQ10 also increases the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, thereby helping to reduce and even prevent high blood pressure as peoples age. So, taking some CoQ10 after age 45 makes sense in my view to help prevent these problems.
So where does Hawthorn come into the story? The unique flavonoids in hawthorn flowers and berries are also shown to help the heart muscle fibers increase their energy production such that the combination of CoQ10 with Hawthorn is especially beneficial to helping to maintain heart function as we age. In addition, the flavonoids in hawthorn are also shown to create a relaxation effect on blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide release, which helps reduce high blood pressure and improve blood circulation within the coronary blood vessels that provide the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood. These three effects of hawthorn; improving heart muscle pumping function, helping to lower and prevent high blood pressure, and improving blood circulation to the heart muscle, makes Hawthorn supplementation an invaluable part of a healthy heart program after the age of 45 in my view. In 2017, a review paper on the cardiovascular benefits of Hawthorn was published in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, which outlined the benefits of Hawthorn supplementation that have been documented in recent human clinical trials when provided to patients with high blood pressure, and early to moderate stage congestive heart failure. The results are very impressive indeed. Sometimes an ounce of prevention is often more advantageous than a pound of cure. In this regard, I feel it make sense to act pre-emptively by taking a supplement each day by age 45 that contains 30 mg of CoQ10 and 35-40 mg of Hawthorn (standardized to 5% flavonoid content). For individuals ages 45-55 one capsule per day is likely sufficient, by age 56, taking two capsules per day is likely prudent and by age 65, I would suggest 3 capsules per day.
It’s important not to take a hawthorn supplement if you are taking the drug digoxin or digitalis, and consulting with a health specialist is always a good idea before modifying your supplementation program, as individual circumstances can vary. But for most people 45 years of age and older, a combination supplement containing CoQ10, and Hawthorn should be a strong consideration in maintaining cardiovascular health. In the concluding remarks of the 2017 review paper the researchers state that data coming from experimental and clinical studies using a standardized grade of Hawthorn suggest that it can be successfully used as an addition to optimal treatment of chronic heart failure. It also has a range of vasoactive and cardio-active properties that could be possibly useful in treatment of other diseases of cardiovascular system like endothelial dysfunction, coronary disease, arrhythmias, or prevention of restenosis after endovascular treatment (e.g., by-pass surgery)
I have included a link to the 2017 Hawthorn Review article in the text below.
Zorniak M, Szydlo B, Krzeminski T.F. Crategus special extract WS 1442: Up-to-date review of experimental and clinical experiences. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 2017, 68. 4: 521-526
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