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Amazing health benefits of hawthorne fruit

Published:Monday | April 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Hawthorne fruit is a berry used in traditional Chinese medicine for a number of health benefits. It is primarily used to relieve digestive problems, particularly those characterised as food stagnation. Food stagnation is a sluggishness in the free flow of food through the digestive tract resulting in symptoms such as abdominal bloating and distension, belching, and a feeling of food being stuck in the chest or abdomen.

Herbs that resolve food stagnation work to reduce, dissolve and digest food stagnation and guide out accumulations through the digestive tract. Accumulations are characterised by palpable abdominal masses, distension and/or pain.




In traditional Chinese medicine, hawthorne fruit may be combined with other herbs to resolve abdominal bloating and distension, belching associated with stagnation of food, and sluggish digestion with a feeling of the food being stuck and not moving down smoothly. These herbs include:

- Barley sprout (Mai Ya)

- Radish seed (Lai Fu Zi)

- Chicken gizzard (Ji Nei Jin)

It is especially effective in the digestion of red meat or oily, greasy and fatty foods. In the case of palpable abdominal masses, it is combined with herbs such as:

- Fructus aurantii immaturus

(Zhi Shi)

- Rhizoma sparaganii

(San Leng)

- Rhizoma curcumae (E Zhu)

- Flos carthami (Hong Hua)







Hawthorne fruit has been used to reduce elevated blood pressure and serum cholesterol in the treatment of angina and coronary artery disease.

In a study, patients with angina related to coronary artery disease were treated with a preparation of Hawthorne fruit (Shan Zha) three times daily, for four weeks per treatment course. Out of 219 patients, the study reported an overall effective rate of 92.2 per cent, with 47.1 per cent showing improvement based on ECG evaluation.

In another study, 127 patients were treated with a powdered extract of Hawthorne fruit (Shan Zha) and barley sprout (Mai Ya) twice daily for two weeks per treatment course. 92 per cent of the participants experienced a reduction in their cholesterol levels.




It is often used as part of weight-loss formulas to reduce or control appetite, and commonly combined with herbs such as kelp/seaweed (Kun Bu) and green tea (Lu Cha), which improve fat metabolism. These herbal formulations are usually taken as teas daily before meals.




Hawthorne fruit is used to alleviate menstrual pain and is often combined with Chinese herbs such as:

- Turmeric (Jiang Huang,

known locally as yellow ginger).

- Chinese Angelica root

(Dang Gui/Tang-Kuei)

- Red Peony root (Chi Shao)

Myrrh (Mo Yao - processed

for internal consumption)

- Safflower flower (Hong Hua)

This herb may also be safely used to relieve abdominal pain following delivery of a baby.




10-15g may be used to prepare a tea which is boiled for 20 minutes and consumed over the course of two days. The berries may also be dry fried for a stronger digestive aid function.




It is to be used with caution by pregnant women and persons with gastritis, peptic ulcers or heartburn.

- Dr Tracey-Ann Brown is an oriental medicine practitioner, herbalist and doctor of acupuncture; email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com