Our bodies need cholesterol to function correctly. It is necessary for the brain, nervous system, cell walls, and to produce hormones, vitamins, and bile acids that help your body digest fat. Cholesterol is made in the liver to maintain the body’s supply.
Unfortunately, too much cholesterol causes health problems. Eating high cholesterol foods can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. High cholesterol levels in the blood can cause plaque to deposit on the arterial walls. As the plaque buildup grows, the arterial walls harden and thicken, causing atherosclerosis. If the plaque continues to build in the arteries, it can completely block a blood vessel, causing a heart attack or stroke.
There are different types of cholesterol in the body: high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good cholesterol”) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad cholesterol”). Triglycerdies, anohter type of blood lipid and a precursor of cholesterol, also contributes to increased cholesterol and problems with heart disease.
Many doctors automatically recommend statins for all patients with heart disease of any kind, regardless of their cholesterol levels. I have two relatives who have had disastrous side effects from these drugs, so I prefer herbs and other remedies whenever possible.
Fortunately, it is possible to reduce cholesterol with herbal remedies without potentially damaging side effects. Hawthorn berry is excellent in lowering cholesterol and has other health benefits as well.
Hawthorn for High Cholesterol and Heart Disease
The leaves, berries, and flowers of the hawthorn plant effectively regulate the blood pressure, relieving both high and low blood pressure, and reduces high cholesterol. These benefits treat various diseases of the heart and circulatory system. They can be used to treat chest pain, irregular heart rhythms, atherosclerosis, and other health problems.
How Hawthorn Reduces Cholesterol
Research shows that hawthorn lowers LDL, or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood. It also breaks down serum fats, producing more HDL, or good cholesterol, and decreases the important ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. By reducing this ratio, it may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Hawthorn berries also increase the production and excretion of bile, which works to reduce the production of cholesterol and helping the body eliminate LDL cholesterol. The berries are high in nutrition and contain a wide range of flavonoids and antioxidants that reduce free radicals in the body.
Hawthorn can be used with conventional drugs, if you prefer. Please discuss it with your doctor or health care professional before use, especially if you are taking prescription drugs of any kind.
What is Hawthorn?
Hawthorn, Crataegus spp., is a thorny tree or bush native to Europe, North America, and Asia. They are related to roses, apples, pears, plums, and cherries. The bush produces red or yellow berries that are edible and medicinally active.
Hawthorn Leaves, Flowers and Berries are Used to Treat:
- Heart disease
- High Blood Pressures
- High blood cholesterol and triglycerides
- Heart Failure
- Chest pain, Angina
- Blood circulation disorders
- Digestive issues
- Anxiety and insomnia
- Stress reduction
- Menopausal symptoms
- Healing skin and reducing signs of aging
- Increasing hair growth
- Protects the brain and improves cognitive function
- Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
- Weight loss and reduces fat buildup
- Supports liver and kidneys
Which Parts of the Plant are Most Effective?
Leaves, berries, and flowers are all medicinally beneficial. Each has higher or lower concentrations of different flavonoids, but all are beneficial. I choose to use the leaves and flowers in teas and the dried berries as a daily supplement.
Related: The Health Benefits of Prickly Ash
How to Use Hawthorn
Hawthorn can be used to make syrups, jelly, taken as a juice, tincture, tea, or as a supplement. Dried leaves and flowers are often used to make tea, but fresh berries can also be used. Dried leaves, flowers, and fruits can be powdered and used to make capsules or tablets. The simplest method is to chew a few fresh or dried berries every day. A scant handful is enough to give you all the health benefits.
If you have a hawthorn bush, keep a supply on hand and use it daily for best results. If you do not have a hawthorn bush nearby, you can buy supplements online.
Hawthorn takes time to work and should be taken daily for best results. Results will begin to take effect after 3 to 6 weeks. It is not sufficient for treating acute problems.
Dosages for Hawthorn
The FDA or other authorities have not officially set dosages. These recommended doses are taken from scientific studies showing efficacy and from recommendations by supplement manufacturers. Choose one or more methods to use hawthorn, keeping the recommended doses in mind as a total. For example, I take 2 cups of tea daily and add one daily dose of dried berries.
- Hawthorn extracts: take 160 to 1800 mg, 2 to 3 times daily.
- Use 1 to 3 cups of tea daily
- 300 to 1000 mg of dry berries, 3x a day
- 200 to 500 mg of dried leaves and flowers, 3x a day.
How to Make Hawthorn Tea
- 4 to 5 g of dried berries OR 1-2 g of dried flowers or leaves
- 1 cup boiling water
- Add hawthorn herb to boiling water cover it and allow to steep for 20 minutes
- Strain and enjoy.
Related: How To Make Your Own Herbal Tincture
Other Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol
If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, I am sure your doctor has given you this advice already, but I repeat it here. High cholesterol is believed to be a problem caused by eating too many fats and the wrong kinds of fat. Some people are genetically inclined to high cholesterol, even when they carefully control their weight and diet.
Eat less fatty foods, but more “good” fats. Change your fat sources, as much as possible, to include more oily fish, nuts, seeds, and natural fruits and vegetables. Cut back on concentrated vegetable fats and meat fats. Increase your Omega-3 and Omega-9 fats.
Also, lose weight, if needed, and stop smoking. These suggestions are helpful for some, but not everyone responds to them. If your doctor says you have high cholesterol, or if you are worried about cholesterol numbers that are inching upward as you age, try taking hawthorn. It supports health in the body while controlling blood cholesterol and pressure.
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