Feb 8, 2018 – The Natural Healing Power Of Hawthorn Berry
By Femi Kusa
How Hawthorn Berries Can Lower Your Cholesterol And Prevent Sudden Heart Attack
Hawthorn berries (Crataegus spp.)
Two deaths last month got me thinking about Hawthorn berries. Just before the first one, I noticed that one of my acquaintances always breathed heavily, almost gasping for breath, on little exertion. I asked him to watch his heart and add to his diet such food supplements as Hawthorn berries, Lecithin, Pomegranate, Co-Enzyme Q10, Magnesium and Calcium, Omega-3 fish oil and the likes of them. But he thinks so little about food supplements. So, I was surprised about two evenings after our discussion when he telephoned me to enquire about where he could obtain some of them. That evening, he returned home from work to be informed that one of his friends in the neighbourhood slumped in the bathroom and was certified dead on the arrival of his body at a hospital. The man had collapsed similarly about three times before this last one, and survived. On the day of his last slump, he had been out at a club with a girlfriend and had beer a bottle too many. His death certificate suggested a heart attack.
The second death was that of a woman near my house who roasted plantain by the road-side. Years ago, I taught her and her family about how to eat roast plantain with Avocado pear or with Coconut oil. I would ask that she scrape with a knife the burns on a roast plantain I would buy. Burns in any food contains tar, and tar is believed to be carcinogenic, that is cancer forming. Two Sundays ago, she slumped at home while washing clothes. It turned out that she had been complaining of headaches, which may have had their roots in elevated blood pressure (hypertension), weakened heart, hardened blood vessels, blocked or clogged arteries, and possibly lead to blood clots or enlarged heart which finally gave way under these health assaults and insults.
As I thought about these deaths, I wondered if they would not have been averted by some food supplements related to heart health, especially Hawthorn berries. The website webMD speaks about Hawthorn:
“Hawthorn is used for diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as congestive Heart Failure (CHF), chest pain and irregular heart beat. It is also used to treat both low and high blood pressure, ‘hardening of the arteries’ (arteriosclerosis) and high cholesterol…
“Hawthorn can improve the amount of blood pumped out of the heart during contractions, widen the blood vessels and increase the transmission of nerve signals.
“Hawthorn also seems to have blood pressure lowering activity, according to early research. It seems to cause relaxing of blood vessels farther from the heart. It seems that this effect is due to a component in Hawthorn called proanthocyanidin.
“Research suggests that Hawthorn can lower cholesterol, Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad cholesterol”, and Triglycerides (fats in the blood). It seems to lower fat accumulation in the liver or aorta (the largest artery in the body located near the heart). Hawthorn fruit extracts may lower cholesterol by increasing the excretion of bile and reducing the formation of cholesterol.”
The use of Hawthorn berries in the treatment of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) diseases may not as yet be popular in Nigeria. It is, in the Western World which would appear to have been driven beyond the wall in the search for cures outside the realm of orthodox medicine and pharmacy. For example, as long ago as 2005, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified these diseases as the number one killer ailments on earth. By that year, about 80 million Americans were already suffering from one CVD or the other. One of these ventures for cures beyond orthodoxy is reported in PHARMACOLOGY REVIEW. The report is a review by some researchers “into the various mechanisms of action proposed for Crataegus preparations, clinical trials involving Crataegus preparations, and the herb’s safety profile”. The researchers are “Mary C. Tassell, Rosari Kingston, Deirdra Gilroy, Mary Lehane, and Ambrose Furey”.
The review said the Irish doctor who first used Hawthorn for CVD prescribed the berries of this herb. It believes that the berries also became more popular than the leaves or fruit of Hawthorn because it was cited in the 1983 edition of the British Herbal Pharmacopea, a standard reference point for many British herbalists. Nowadays however, the berries and the flowers are prescribed interchangeably or together. Other records suggest that berries, seeds, flowers and leaves are used together. Modern research shows that the berries, leaves and flowers are chemically similar in their composition, in which large amounts of anthocyanidins and flavonoids have been found. Only the ratios in which they occur differentiates them. While Kingston discovered that the Berries are rich in Hyperoside, the leaves in high levels of Vitexin-2-rhamnoside the flowers, too, present high levels of Vitexin-2-rhamnoside. Another studies by Mills found that the flowers had high levels of flavonoids and the leaves high amounts of Oligomeric Procyanidins.
The review said that many clinical trials utilised whole herb (leaves, flowers and berries) that is the flavonoid group and the procyanidin group working together. So, it was not always possible to say exactly which was bringing the more healing impact on a state of disease. It is noted, though, that population studies have shown a “significant links between increased dietary flavonoid intake and reduction in coronary-related mortality.
Yet another study showed that Hawthorn relaxes smooth muscles of the cardiovascular system to lower blood pressure. The Oligomeric cyanidins are credited with vasodialation, that is widening of the blood vessel space to take more blood and make more blood to flow more easily through it and, thereby, lower blood pressure. Hawthorn plant species which tend to be the most packed with antioxidants are said to be those in China, Israel, Jordan and Palestine.
The conclusion of this review are that (1) Hawthorn is relatively safe (2) Hawthorn extracts or components rarely interacts with drugs (3) Hawthorn is excellent for mild to moderate (stages 1 and 2) cardiovascular disease (4) Hawthorn may help more serve cases of this disease if the dosages of it used are adjusted upwards, and this should pose little or no problem, given the “excellent” safety profile of this herb.
If you suffer from a degenerative disease, it is most likely that you do not have enough Magnesium in your blood and cells. Magnesium is involved in the production of about 300 enzymes in the body. Enzymes are involved in chemical changes throughout the body such as, the conversion of complex proteins in milk, egg or beef in the diet to their simplest forms…amino acids, which the body uses to build its cells and repair any damage in them. Thus, the body works well in diverse ways when Magnesium is present in the right amounts.
About 15 years ago, a pregnant and sad woman told a friend of her husband she was tired of her marriage. She had four spontaneous or natural abortions, all almost mid-way through pregnancy. Her doctors had ruled out incompetent cervix, which could be a cause of this condition. The foetus could be unviable if the placenta to make it grow was defective, and the body may expel it in a spontaneous abortion. At this stage of all pregnancies, she always experience a quickening of the uterine muscles which were then followed up with an abortion. Her husband’s friend ask her to take Magnesium supplement this time. And it worked! Magnesium is calming, and calmed agitated, spasmodic muscles of the uterus which were pushing the foetuses out prematurely!
Similarly, Magnesium may help to resolve the following conditions…and more: period pains, tension or migraine headaches, heart and blood circulation problems such as palpitations, angina pectoris, blood clots, strokes and heart attacks, low and high blood pressure; muscle weakness and fibromyalgia (pain in the muscles, tendous, ligaments and tissue; asthma; muscle pain; diabetes; osteoporosis (loss of calcium in the bones, which may cause fractures); tooth decay; constipation; glaucoma; depression; hiccups; body odour; skin wrinkling; insomnia; hair loss; muscle weakness; kidney stones; thyroid problems; candidiasis…the list is endless. A variety of health challenges which may be triggered by a Magnesium deficiency has been listed only to show how vulnerable to disease our health can easily be when we do not consciously include enough Magnesium in the diet. Population studies world-wide show that many people, old and young, men and women are Magnesium deficient, whereas Mother Nature provides us with Magnesium-rich foods. Every green food source contains Magnesium. The green is chlorophyll, the “blood” of the plant. Chlorophyll is like the haemoglobin, the oxygen carrying portion of the human red blood cell. Haemoglobin and chlorophyll are made up of Nitrogen, Hydrogen, Carbon and Oxygen. In Chlorophyll, Magnesium hold the structure today together. In haemoglobin, iron does the job. Thus, when we consume green foods, such as deep green leafy vegetables, we consume Magnesium. The body supply removes the Magnesium from the chlorophyll, replaces the structure with iron to recharge the blood, while the Magnesium is used for the myriad functions it performs in the body.
Unfortunately for mankind, the intellect has foisted a man-made nutrition regimen on the modern man. A standard Nigerian breakfast of bread, egg, sugar, margarine, tea (and what have you?) is Magnesium deficient. People who eat out do not have generous servings of greens. Even some vegetable they may manage to obtain in the restaurant diet may have wilted for days before it was cooked. And the cooking may have been prolonged under intense heat, causing damage to Magnesium and other minerals. It was this experience in nutrition-conscious countries which has now led to the culture of producing these greens in powder form which may now be added to meals. Thus, powders of Spinach, Okra, Cilantro, Pawpaw leaf, Lemon grass, Wheatgrass, Spirulina, Chlorella, Kale, Asparagus et.c are now available, not only for tea-making or for adding to smoothies but also for mixing with such foods as corn pap, rice, beans, porridge et.c.
We cannot in one swoop as this presentation address all the health challenges a Magnesium deficiency may cause, or of those disease reversals or amelioration possible with its supplementation in the diet. So, an attempt can only be made to offer a few hints here and there.
Bones and teeth
Shari Lieberman Ph.D., and Nancy Bruning, say in their THE REAL MINERAL AND VITAMIN BOOK:
“Like Calcium and Phosphorus, Magnesium is needed for strong and healthy bones and teeth. This mineral plays an important part in bone growth and helps prevent tooth decay by loading Calcium in tooth enamel. Understandably, poor Magnesium intake has been implicated in disorders such as osteoporosis.”
Jean Carper, author of New York Times best-selling STOP AGING NOW, says: “To maintain bone strength as you age, you need Magnesium, as well as Calcium. The two work together with Vitamin D, to keep bones from deteriorating. Women prone to osteoporosis commonly lack Magnesium…If you have low levels of Magnesium, you will also apt to have low levels of active vitamin D needed to metabolise bone. This makes your bones doubly vulnerable to fractures. Also, the ratio of Calcium and Magnesium is important. Too much Calcium and too little Magnesium makes your blood more apt to clot, possibly leading to strokes and heart attacks. You should get at least half as much Magnesium as Calcium, but many older Americans get only one-fourth as much Magnesium as Calcium, especially if they take Calcium supplements. So, if you get 1,200mg of calcium as generally recommended, you need about 600mg of Magnesium. Additionally, the more sugar and fats you eat, the more Magnesium you need, says Dr. Seelig.”
Dr. Robert Atkins, author of VITA NUTRIENT SOLUTIONS, says: “For preventing and perhaps reversing osteoporosis, Magnesium may be more important than Calcium. Only a fraction of bone matter, the mineral plays a disproportionately important role, balancing the body’s Calcium supply and keeping it from being excreted. Some scientists go so far as to say that how much Magnesium we eat is a predictor of bone density than Calcium consumption. Without enough Magnesium and the other trace minerals, any additional Calcium we ingest will be deposited not around our bones, but elsewhere, perhaps in the wall of our arteries.”
Jean Carper says: “People who take in low amounts of Magnesium are more apt to have heart disease, according to about 20 world-wide population studies says Ronald J. Elvin, M.D., a Magnesium authority at the National Institute of Health. Magnesium seems to protect the heart (in) several different ways, in particular by preventing spasms of the coronary arteries and abnormal heart rhythms that are a primary cause of sudden death. In one study of a cardiac unit, 53 percent of the patients had low Magnesium. Indeed the amount of Magnesium in your body can help determine wether you live or die if you have a heart attack.
“Further, Magnesium helps defer the formation of blood clots that help clog arteries and trigger heart attacks…Magnesium inhibits release of thronboxane, a substance that makes blood platelets more sticky and apt to form clots. The minerals also tends to keep blood vessels from constricting, thus warding off crisis in blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. Magnesium has been so effective in regulating heart beat and blood pressure that it has been called ‘Nature’s Calcium channel blocker’ referring to prescription Calcium blockers drugs used for those purposes.”
Please permit me to offer explanation here. Prescription drug Calcium blockers are given to patients where calcium deposits in soft muscles are affecting performance of these muscles. In the blood vessels, this causes hardening (arteriosclerosis) which may cause hypertension. In the eye, it may cause blockage in the flow of fluid and result in glaucoma. Calcium-blocker drugs have side effects which may be more dangerous than the problem they are meant to keep out. Magnesium is Nature’s own Calcium blocker and does the job without side effects if consumed in the right ratio with Calcium.
Dr. Atkins: “Hospital Cardiologists are quite interested in what Magnesium can do when a patient is first admitted a coronary care unit, because half a dozen studies show it to be effective in preventing complications. This led to a larger study, which failed to demonstrate benefits. Dr. Mildred Seelig, the Magnesium guru, feels that the mineral’s benefits could be maintained with the individualisation treatment and flexible dosage system. Magnesium, when given by the vein, has in these studies, can stabilise or destabilise the heart.”
Lieberman and Bruning: “Diabetes…can damage the blood vessels of the retina, possibly leading to severe vision problems and even blindness. Again, there is evidence that low levels of Magnesium may be an additional risk factor in the development and profession of this complication.”
Dr. Robert Atkins: “How well the body metabolises sugar is tightly linked to Magnesium, making the mineral essential to anyone with diabetes or insulin resistance. In and of itself, poor sugar control raises the risk of a Magnesium deficiency, which in turn further impairs sugar metabolism. Supplements allow people with Type-2 diabetes to regulate blood sugar more easily. As a result, their need for oral diabetes drugs usually diminishes and could disappear all together. People susceptible to bouts of hypoglycemia, too, can stabilise the roller-coaster rise and fall of their blood sugar. Although the mineral does not affect Type-1 diabetes as dramatically, it is nevertheless a benefactor that should not be neglected.”
Jean Carper: “New evidence is popping up linking diabetes with a deficiency of Magnesium. Further, fairly low doses of Magnesium may help prevent diabetic complications and intervene in the course of the disease itself. The theory is that diabetics have a peculiar defect in the metabolism. Studies find that more diabetic often have low levels of Magnesium in their cells and blood. This is worrisome, because a kick of Magnesium can encourage blood clotting, constriction of blood vessels, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat and insulin resistance, according to Robert K. Rude, M.D., Associate professor of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He favours 300-400mg supplement daily, preferably of Magnesium chloride, to correct diabetic deficiencies. “Even if you don’t have diabetes or heart disease, skipping in Magnesium can make you more vulnerable to insulin resistance…In one study of normal healthy individuals, all developed a 25 percent greater insulin resistance on a Magnesium deficiency diet.”
Over many years, I have seen laboratory reports of Magnesium deficiency in people who do not eat well and, to worsen matters, do not take Magnesium supplement. Happily today, many Nigerians now know about blood pH, that is acidic blood and alkaline blood. The pH scale is O-14. Below 7 is acid, above it is Alkaline. The body is believed to function optimally at 7.34 pH. Cooked foods are acidic. Fried foods are worse. So are bread, milk, sugar, alcohol and the likes of them. Stress produces acidosis. So do negative thoughts and behaviours. To prevent the blood from becoming acidic and damaging the cells, the brain instructs all parts of the body with alkaline reserves to release them into the blood. Thus, the bones release Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc and Phosphorus, the red blood cells Iron, the immune cells Manganese et.c. It should be easy from this scenario to understand why a person with acidic body complains about bone pain, muscle soreness and pain, anaemia and immune depletion, among other problems. Surely, these problems may be averted on a good Magnesium intake in the daily diet or supplementation with the powders of green vegetables and grasses, tablets, capsules, tinctures…and what have you?
About the author: Read more about Femi Kusa on Olufemikusa.com