Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hawthorn Extract Shown to Improve Heart Failure

Hawthorn extract has been touted for it's use in treating heart failure. A recent review from Cochrane indicates these benefits are real. The extract is made from the leaves and berries of the Hawthorne plant, and when taken with conventional treatment, Hawthorn extract can improve symptoms of congestive heart failure.

Fourteen trials, involving 855 patients were examined by two Cochrane reviewers. The evidence revealed significant benefits for heart failure treatment when compared with patients who were given placebo during the trials.

Those who took Hawthorn extract displayed increased exercise tolerance, improved exercise workload, less shortness of breath and fatigue, and less oxygen consumption during exercise. These benefits allow for increased activity and improved quality of life for patients diagnosed with Class I to III chronic heart failure.

Hawthorn extract is a popular herbal medicine. Experiments show that Hawthorne extract increases contractility of the heart, making it pump more forcefully. By increasing the force of contractions, blood flow to the lungs and organs improves, providing relief of common symptoms such as fatigue and decreased exercise tolerance. Digitalis provides the same benefit, and has been used for decades. Digitalis is derived from the Foxglove, or digitalis plant.

There were minimal side effects reported with Hawthorn use. Side effects included G.I upset such as nausea, dizziness, and "heart complaints" that were undefined in the review data. Side effects were infrequent.

If you have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, you should speak with your doctor before adding any herbal medications to your treatment plan. This analysis provides good evidence that Hawthorne extract can provide symptomatic relief for chronic heart failure.

Will Hawthorn extract find it's way into the pharmaceutical industry?

Ref: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008 Issue 1 ◦