Author(s): Edwards JE, Brown PN, Talent N, Dickinson TA, Shipley PR
Since the 1800s, natural health products that contain hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) have been used in North America for the treatment of heart problems such as hypertension, angina, arrhythmia, and congestive heart failure. Traditionally, Native American tribes used hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) to treat gastrointestinal ailments and heart problems, and consumed the fruit as food. Hawthorn also has a long history of use in Europe and China for food, and in traditional medicine. Investigations of Crataegus spp. typically focus on the identification and quantification of flavonoids and anthocyanins, which have been shown to have pharmacological activity. The main flavonoids found in Crataegus spp. are hyperoside, vitexin, and additional glycosylated derivatives of these compounds. Reviewed herein are the botany, ethnobotany, and traditional use of hawthorn while focusing on the phytochemicals that have been reported in Crataegus species, and the variation in the described chemistry between individual species.