Hawthorn (chemical name crataegus) is from a flowering plant. This nutrient is rich in polyphenols. It is truly an amazing nutrient. In laboratory studies, hawthorn has been shown to inhibit LDL cholesterol, otherwise known as “bad” cholesterol.
By inhibiting this form of cholesterol, it prevents damage to blood vessels. In the June edition of the prestigious American Journal of Medicine, a meta-analysis was performed regarding hawthorn extract for the treatment of chronic heart failure. Two independent reviewers analyzed a total of 13 clinical trials that were randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled.
In most of these trials, hawthorn was used in conjunction with standard treatments for heart failure. Several hundred patients in total were involved in these studies. It was found that symptoms, including shortness of breath and fatigue, improved significantly with hawthorn extract supplementation treatment, compared to placebo groups.
Adverse effects were considered extremely mild and infrequent. The reviewers of this meta-analysis concluded that the results suggested that there was a significant benefit from hawthorn extract as an accompanying treatment for chronic heart failure. There have been other studies in the medical literature indicating that hawthorn is effective for digestive ailments, shortness of breath, kidney stones, and generalized cardiovascular disorders. In clinical trials, hawthorn has also shown benefit in reducing blood pressure.
There is some exciting news that you may be hearing about in the next several weeks to a few months. Hawthorn has shown such impressive results for congestive heart failure that there is currently an ongoing study involving approximately 2,300 patients in 7 European countries.
It is known as the Survival and Prognosis, Investigation of Crataegus Extract Study (SPICE). The SPICE study is the first international, randomized, placebo-controlled study for hawthorn. The patients will be enrolled and treated for approximately two years. During the treatment period, half of the patients will receive a total dose of 900 mg daily of hawthorn extract standardized to 84.3 mg of oligomeric procyanidines (OPC), with the other group receiving placebo. OPCs are groups of chemicals found to offer various cardiovascular benefits. All patients will be given standard therapy for congestive heart failure, including diuretics, digoxin and other medications.
The primary outcome will be cardiac death, myocardial infarction or hospitalization due to progressive heart failure. The study began in October 1998, and the results are due out literally any time. Having reviewed the hawthorn data, I do believe that we will see a positive outcome from the SPICE study, which should attract national attention.
Standardization of herbal ingredients is an important process to make sure the product is high quality and effective. After many weeks to months of research, we eventually found a source of raw ingredient that met our very high standards. In fact, we had the product laboratory-tested by an independent third party lab to verify that the important active ingredients were contained in the raw material at the same levels used in the studies.
There are literally millions of people in this country who suffer with some degree of cardiovascular disease, and especially congestive heart failure (CHF). CHF has become pandemic in this country. Another important nutrient for cardiovascular function is CoQ10. There have been studies indicating that the statin drugs for lowering cholesterol actually deplete CoQ10 in the cells. If you are taking a statin drug, I strongly recommend that you take 200 mg per day of CoQ10. I also would highly recommend that you get onboard with hawthorn. It is my feeling that a good, quality hawthorn extract may literally save thousands of lives every year. Along with standardized hawthorn extract, I would recommend a supplement for those individuals concerned about cardiovascular function.
The goal of extract supplement products is for it to be safe and effective, period. Each capsule of a quality hawthorn extract should contain at least 450 mg of hawthorn standardized to 2% vitexin and 10% OPC. At the recommended dose of two capsules per day, it should provide about 90 mgs of OPC. This is actually a few milligrams higher than the standardized product used in the SPICE study.
Products that have non-standardized nutrients with inadequate levels of the active ingredients are not going to provide the benefits of standardized nutrients. Unfortunately, many companies will use a blend, and only include a tiny amount of the standardized extract, with the majority consisting of the non-standardized extract. Read the labels carefully. If it does not list the active ingredients and standardization, assume you are getting zero.
Avoid the typical “complete” A- Z, mass-marketed multi-vitamins, since clinical trials have shown that they are really of little to no benefit. These multi-vitamins lack the most important nutrients, like coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and alpha lipoic acid, or they have grossly inadequate levels of nutrients such as lutein, selenium and B-Complex. Furthermore, they use inferior forms of nutrients, such as zinc oxide instead of L-Opti-Zinc, which is 20 times more powerful an antioxidant.
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