Hawthorn Berries are very popular in Chinese culture and widely consumed throughout other Asian countries as well. The berries are usually dried before being consumed and they have a pleasant sour flavor. The berries can be made into a tea, tincture, or used in cooking. In TCM, Hawthorn is used to relieve food stagnation, abdominal distention, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. They also aid in digestion and reduce symptoms of hypertension.
In modern times, Hawthorn Berries are used to promote the health of the circulatory system, treat angina, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia and have been found to strengthen the heart. Hawthorn is widely regarded in Europe as a safe and effective treatment for the early stages of heart disease and has been used for a number of ailments including angina, myocarditis, arteriosclerosis, nervous conditions like insomnia, and diarrhea. It has also been indicated for strengthening blood vessels, vascular insufficiency and blood clots, restoring the heart muscle wall, lowering cholesterol and to aid digestion. Its use in the treatment of Hepatitis in modern Chinese medicine is supported by the demonstration of hepatoprotective activity in animal studies.
Studies using rats suggest that a hawthorn tincture (made from the berries) may be a powerful agent for the removal of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from the bloodstream. The tincture of hawthorn berries also reduced the production of cholesterol in the liver of rats who were being fed a high-cholesterol diet. Hawthorns also increase intra-cellular vitamin C levels. Free radicals are believed to contribute to the ageing process as well as the development of a number of health problems including heart disease. Antioxidants found in hawthorn can neutralise free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.