A new review of existing research suggests that "significantly" improves symptoms.
"If I had chronic heart failure, I certainly would consider it," said review co-author Dr. Max Pittler,deputy director of complementary medicine at Peninsula Medical Schoolin Exeter, England.
Pittler and colleagues searched the medical literature for high-quality studies into the use of the herb in chronic heart failure patients.
The review authors combined the results of 10 studies of855 patients into a meta-analysis. Compared to placebo, boosted the maximum level of physiological workload – a fact that the review authors described as significant, although they acknowledged they based the finding on small numbers of studies and patients.
The analysis found that hawthorn, as compared to placebo,also decreased the "pressure-heart rate product," a measurement of how much oxygen is used by the heart. In addition, the analysis reports that two other measurements – exercise tolerance, and shortness of breath and fatigue – improved "significantly" in patients who used hawthorn.
Side effects were reported to be "infrequent, mild and transient," and included nausea, dizziness and heart and gastrointestinal complaints.
According to Pittler, the extract appears to boost the strength of heart contractions, increase blood flow through arteries and reduce irregular heartbeats.
Source: Center for the Advancement of Health, Jan 22, 2008