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Back to our Roots- Herbal Remedy Treats Heart Failure Symptoms

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, February 05, 2008 11:03 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs

Hawthorn has been found to be effective in treating the symptoms of heart failure.


Many drugs are derived from plants or are plant-based in their formulations.

Therefore it shouldn’t be too surprising that an herbal supplement, hawthorn extract, is being shown effective in treating symptoms of chronic heart failure.

Published January 23 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, this paper looks at 14 double-blind, placebo controlled randomized clinical trials.  Extract from hawthorn leaves, fruits and flowers was used.

The herb worked better than placebos in improving the ability to endure during exercise and in strengthening heart muscle contractions with mild or no side effects. 

Dr. Max H. Pittler, the lead author and deputy director of complementary medicine at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth in England, finds hawthorn extract is effective in treating symptoms of chronic heart failure when used as an adjunct to conventional treatment. 

He warns it should not be used as a substitute for regular care.

“Patients need a proper diagnosis from their doctors,” Dr. Pittler told the New York Times, “and they need to consult with their doctors if they want to take hawthorn along with their conventional medicine.”

Since hawthorn is available without a prescription, Dr. Pittler warns patients should not take treatment into their own hands.

We don’t really know the mechanisms by which hawthorn works,” he said, “and it is important to caution that patients should not self-diagnose, and then self-treat with hawthorn.”  

Those promoting more natural remedies have long known about hawthorn’s possibilities.

Hawthorn, in the rose family (Crataegus species), has been suggested as a treatment for tightness in the chest and mild arrhythmia. Hawthorn is also recommended for those recovering from a heart attack because of its vasodilatory effects that opens arteries and improves blood supply to tissues. 

Herbalists suggest it as a remedy for high blood pressure associated with hardening of the arteries and as a remedy for angina.  

Hawthorn research in Germany shows a similar positive results for heart attack recovery.

The Cochrane Collaboration is called the gold standard for evidence-based medicine according to the Chicago Tribune.

In this edition, the collaboration reviews other effective treatments from the complimentary world including cranberry juice treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections.

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