Crataegus; known as Hawthorn, thornapple, or haw berry; tinny fruits that grow on trees and shrubs belonging to Crataegus genus.
The Crataegus tree gives small apple fruits, fresh and sweet, ranging in color from yellow to deep red to black. There are several types of Crataegus trees that produce several fruits, but the most known type is the Crataegus Rhipidophylla.
The wild Cratageus or Hawthorn was known from ancient times; the Greeks considered it a sign of happiness, hope, and fertility, the bridesmaids used to carry perfumed bouquets of it whereas the Romans used to put the Crataegus leaves in the baby’s cradle.
The wild Crataegus is widely spread in Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia; it is used since ancient times against diseases, especially heart diseases, digestive problems, and high blood pressure. In modern medicine, the Crataegus is used in the treatment of myocarditis, heart failure, atherosclerosis, angina cases, heart valve diseases, heart rhythm disorder, opening arteries, and improving blood flow.
The nutritional value of Crataegus
The Crataegus derives its nutritional value from its unique combination of vitamins, minerals, organic compounds in addition to antioxidants, such as; catechins, saponins, and anthocyanidins.
Medical benefits of Crataegus
Good for digestion
The Crataegus or Hawthorn has been used for centuries indigestion problems; people use it to treat digestive issues, particularly indigestion, stomach pain, and diarrhea. The Crataegus contains a good amount of fibers, which has been proven to aid digestion by reducing constipation and acting as a prebiotic. A rat study observed that Crataegus extract reduces the transit time of food in the digestive system, which means that food moves quickly through the digestive system. Thus it reduces indigestion, in addition to another study on rats with peptic ulcer, the Crataegus extract is used as anti-ulcer treatment.
Rich on antioxidants
The first studies proved that the wild Crataegus contain compound polyphenols that have many medical benefits because of its antioxidant characteristics, which help to defeat the chemical radicals that lead to many diseases, such as some cancers, diabetes type 2, asthma, some infections, heart problems, and premature skin aging. Though initial research is promising, more studies are needed to assess Crataegus' effects on disease risk.
Stability of blood pressure
It has been proved that wild Crataegus helps in the stability of blood pressure and brings it back to its normal state, either high or low. In China, Crataegus is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat high blood pressure.
Crataegus to reduce the blood fats
Some animal studies indicate that the Crataegus extract improves the blood fats that contain cholesterol and triglyceride; however, those studies need to be tried on humans to evaluate the Crataegus extract on blood fats.
Reduces angina pain
Angina pains may be so painful, and it may be relieved by Crataegus; however, don't forget to consult a doctor about those pains, which may indicate heart problems and blood vessels.
Strengthen the heart
The Crataegus is used in traditional and modern medicine as a cure of the heart regarding its positive effects on it; by keeping away all diseases that try to harm the heart, and this is by increasing the endurance, reducing the breathlessness, pumping more energy and gets rid of fatigue.
The Crataegus has a tranquilizer that helps to decrease the anxiety symptoms; the Crataegus is included among several traditional medications that treat some mental diseases, such as stress, anxiety, and depression. The Crataegus is prescribed for those suffering from broken heart syndrome or those who have lost a beloved … because it improves the mood through its effect of hormones and enzymes.
The Crataegus expands the blood vessels in the heart, which allows more blood flow throughout the body, and therefore it increases energy level, vigilance and improves cognitive skills.
Support the immune system function
The antioxidants in the Crataegus work hand in hand with vitamin C to enhance the activity of white blood cells for good overall health.
May have anti-inflammatory properties
Studies on animals show that the Crataegus extract has an anti-inflammatory effect but still needs to know if these effects are applied to humans or no.
Help to prevent hair loss
Some studies on rats found that the wild extract Crataegus stimulated hair growth and increased the size of hair follicles and thus a healthier hair. It is believed that the Crataegus effect on hair is due to its content of antioxidant polyphenol, but more studies are needed to confirm the Crataegus benefits on hair.
Protect against the formation of dental plaque
Researchers from Rochester University in New York have discovered that the Crataegus contains a component that prevents the mouth bacteria from sticking to the teeth, and thus avoid the formation of plaque around the mouth; thus protecting the teeth from necrosis and caries.
Relieves menstrual pains
The Crataegus contains the Scopolten; it was proved that it is useful to get rid of the painful contraction during the period. Therefore many women in different countries use the Crataegus to get rid of menstrual pain.
Side effects of Crataegus
The Crataegus is safely used in the short term; however, some people have complained against Crataegus secondary-effects such as; nausea, dizziness, and stomach ache due to its strong impact on the heart.
The Crataegus may interact with some heart medications; thus, it is advisable for everyone who is taking such medications to consult his doctor.
The Crataegus may slow the blood clotting, which increases the risk of bleeding during and after surgery; therefore, it's better to stop using the Crataegus at least two weeks before the surgery.
The Crataegus may cause nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and sweating, as it may occur a nose bleeding, hence if you feel any symptom, it's better to consult the doctor.
Consuming the Crataegus in small amounts is safe, whereas consuming high doses is toxic.
How the Crataegus is used
It’s not easy to find the Crataegus plant in the grocery stores, it is found in the farmers market and the healthy special foods stores.
The Crataegus may be added to a diet in different ways:
- Eat its raw fruit
- In the form of jams or desserts
- By making a delicious vinegar of drink
- Or in the form of food supplement
- Or by making a tea from Crataegus dry fruit
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