What are other names for this remedy?

Type of medicine: natural remedy

Scientific and common names: Crataegus oxyacantha, Crataegus laevigata, whitethorn, haw, maybush, Chinese hawthorn, English hawthorn, hagedorn, harthorne, hedgethorn, maythorn, hawthorn extract, hawthorn flower, hawthorn fruit, hawthorn leaf, hawthorne

What is hawthorn?

Hawthorn is a thorny shrub that grows up to 5 feet tall. The flowers grow in clusters and may be white, red, or pink. The shrub produces small berries called haws. The leaves, berries, and flowers of hawthorn are used to make medicine.

What is it used for?

This remedy has been used to treat several conditions. Studies in humans or animals have not proved that this remedy is safe or effective for all uses. Before using this remedy for a serious condition, you should talk with your healthcare provider.

This remedy is helpful to treat heart failure. Hawthorn appears to improve the heart's pumping ability. However, there are many drugs for heart failure (such as ACE inhibitors) that are more effective, and have been proven to save lives. Hawthorn has not been shown to provide the same benefit.

Hawthorn has been used to treat:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Anxiety
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Muscle spasms

Hawthorn has been used on the skin to treat boils and skin sores.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve uses for natural remedies. The FDA does not inspect or regulate natural remedies the way they do prescription medicines.

How is it taken?

You may take hawthorn by mouth in the form of capsules, tinctures, extracts, or teas. It may be used on the skin as a wash or a poultice. Follow the directions printed on the product label or given by your healthcare provider.

What if I overdose?

Symptoms of an acute overdose have not been reported.

What should I watch out for?

Hawthorn seems safe for most adults when used for a short time. The biggest risk with this remedy is that if you use hawthorn instead of medical treatment for serious conditions, you might increase your risk of death.

Talk with your healthcare provider before taking this remedy if you have any heart condition. Do not try to treat heart failure or other heart conditions by yourself. You should take hawthorn only if your healthcare provider approves and tells you that you have no medically significant heart problems.

If you need emergency care, surgery, or dental work, tell the healthcare provider or dentist you are taking this medicine.

Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any natural remedy that you are using or thinking about using. If your provider does not tell you how to take it, follow the directions that come with the package. Do not take more or take it longer than recommended. Ask about anything you do not understand. Remember:

  • Natural remedies are not always safe.
  • You should not take them if you are pregnant or breast-feeding without your healthcare provider's approval. They should not be taken by infants, children, or older adults without your provider's approval.
  • They affect your body and may interact with prescription medicines that you take.
  • Natural remedies are not standardized and may have different strengths and effects. They may be contaminated.

What are the possible side effects?

Along with its desirable effects, this remedy may cause some unwanted side effects. Some side effects may be very serious. Some side effects may go away as your body adjusts to the remedy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that continue or get worse.

Life-threatening (Report these to your healthcare provider right away. If you cannot reach your healthcare provider right away, get emergency medical care or call 911 for help.): Allergic reaction (hives; itching; rash; trouble breathing; chest pain or tightness in your chest; swelling of your lips, tongue, and throat).

Serious (report these to your healthcare provider right away): Irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing.

Other: Nausea, upset stomach, tiredness, nosebleeds, sweating, headache, dizziness, nervousness, rash, trouble sleeping.

What products might interact with this remedy?

When you take this remedy with other medicines, it can change the way the remedy or the medicines work. Vitamins and certain foods may also interact. Using these products together might cause harmful side effects. Before taking this remedy, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking:

  • ACE inhibitors such as benazepril (Lotensin), captopril, enalapril (Vasotec), fosinopril, lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), quinapril (Accupril), and ramipril (Altace)
  • Alpha blockers such as doxazosin (Cardura) and prazosin (Minipress)
  • Beta blockers such as acebutolol (Sectral), atenolol (Tenormin), carvedilol (Coreg), labetalol (Trandate), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), nadolol (Corgard), pindolol, propranolol (Inderal LA), and sotalol (Betapace)
  • Calcium channel blockers such as diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac), felodipine, isradipine (DynaCirc CR), nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Adalat CC, Procardia), and verapamil (Calan, Covera-HS, Isoptin SR, Verelan)
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin)
  • Diuretics (water pills) such as amiloride, bumetanide, chlorothiazide (Diuril), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), spironolactone (Aldactone), torsemide (Demadex), and triamterene (Dyrenium)
  • Medicines to treat erectile dysfunction such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra)
  • Natural remedies such as cat’s claw, coenzyme Q-10, coltsfoot, devil's claw, motherwort, fenugreek, fish oil, ginger, Panax ginseng, white horehound, parsley, stinging nettle, turmeric, and valerian
  • Nitrates such as amyl nitrite inhalant, isosorbide dinitrate or mononitrate (Imdur, Isordil, Dilatrate-SR), and nitroglycerin (Nitrostat, Nitrolingual, Nitro-Dur)

If you are not sure if your medicines might interact, ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider. Keep a list of all your medicines with you. List all the prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins that you take. Be sure that you tell all healthcare providers who treat you about all the products you are taking.


Keep all natural remedies and medicines out of the reach of children.

This advisory includes select information only. The information was obtained from scientific journals, study reports, and other documents. The author and publisher make no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the information. The advisory may not include all side effects associated with a remedy or interactions with other medicines. Nothing herein shall constitute a recommendation for the use of any remedy. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information.

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