Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(4):469

See related article on hawthorn

What is hawthorn?

Hawthorn is an herb that has been used to treat many health problems. It has been studied most as a treatment for mild heart failure. It helps the heart pump out more blood and opens up blood vessels to help with circulation. You can find hawthorn in most drug or health food stores.

Is it safe?

The U.S. government does not strictly monitor supplements. Using hawthorn to treat heart failure has been tested, but there is no guarantee that it works or that it is safe. Different brands may be made with different ingredients.

Hawthorn should not be used in place of proven regular therapies for heart failure. However, it may help your symptoms if your doctor tells you to add it to your regular heart medicines. You should always read the label and talk to your doctor before taking hawthorn.

Are there side effects?

Hawthorn seems safe for most adults when it is used for a short time (four to eight weeks). In some people, it can cause nausea, stomach upset, tiredness, sweating, headache, dizziness, an abnormal heartbeat, insomnia, agitation, and other problems. Talk to your doctor if you have any side effects.

Who should not take it?

Do not use hawthorn if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not give hawthorn to children. Talk to your doctor before taking hawthorn, especially if you are sick or if you are taking other medicine (including herbs or vitamins). If you have a heart problem, do not take hawthorn without talking to your doctor. Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol or caffeine, smoke, or use illegal drugs, because these can affect the way hawthorn works.

How should I use it?

Hawthorn can be taken by mouth. The dosage ranges from 160 to 1,800 mg, which is divided into two or three doses per day. It is not clear which dose works best.

Where can I find more information?

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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