Home > Herbal Glossary > Chinese Herb List > Fructus Cartaegi
>>Where Does It Grow?
>>Nature and Flavor
>>Identified Active Components / Major Chemical
>>Drug actions in TCM
>>Traditional Uses in TCM
>>Pharmacological Actions
>>Administration and Dosage
>>Adverse Effect, Side Effects and Cautions
Shan Zha
Latin Name: Fructus Cartaegi
Common Name: Hawthorn fruit
Scientific Name: Crataegus pinnatifida Bge. / C. pinnatifida Bge. var. major N. E. Br.
Chinese Name: 山楂
Pinyin Name: shan zha
Fruit of Crataegus pinnatifida Bge. or C. pinnatifida Bge. var. major N. E. Br., the deciduous shrub or short arbor plants of the Rosaceae family.
Where Does It Grow?
The plant can be found throughout most of China, it is mainly produced in provinces such as Hebei, Shandong, Liaoning and Henan.
Nature and Flavor
Hawthorn fruit is sour and sweet in flavors, slightly warm in nature, and mainly manifests its therapeutic actions in the spleen, stomach and liver meridians.
Identified Active Components/ Major Chemical Constituents 
Major active components in hawthorn fruit are organic acids, flavonoids, tannins, amino acids and multiple trace elements. The organic acids include cratagic acid, ursolic acid, citric acid, succinic acid, malic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, oleanolic acid, palmitic acid and pyrogallol. The flavonoids include quercetin, vitexin, hyperroside and rutin. The fruit also contains epicatechin, flavan polymers, lipase, vitamin C and riboflavin, etc.
Drug actions in TCM
Hawthron fruit enhances digestion, relieves food retention, promotes qi (vital energy) circulation and removes blood stasis.
Traditional Uses in TCM
1. Hawthron fruit is a usual ingredient for digestive problems, in particular for indigestions caused by overeating meat and greasy foods. The herb can be used alone, or in combination with similar herbs like medicated leaven and germinated barley. When indigestion is serious that appears distention and pain in the upper abdomen, green tangerine peel and immature bitter orange should be added in the prescription to smooth the bowel movements. When there are food poisoning signs that develop diarrhea, hawthron fruit is used with golden thread rhizome and sopora root for relief.
2. Hawthron fruit can be used in painful and stagnated conditions, as it promotes the blood and qi circulation. The herb can be prescribed with Sichuan lovage, angelica root and motherwort herb to treat menstrual pain, or abdominal pain and vaginal discharges after delivery. For a pain in the chest region, hawthorn fruit can be used with Sichuan lovage, peach kernel and Chinese safflower.

Modern TCM also uses hawthorn fruit to treat coronary disease, hypertension, hyperlipemia, vocal cord nodules and polyps, and bacterial dysentery.
Pharmacological Actions

The pharmacological actions of hawthorn fruit include promoting digestion, lowering blood lipid levels, regulating blood pressure, cardiovascular enhancement, immunoregulatory and anti-bacterial effects.


Effects on cardiovascular system

Hawthorn fruit could play a role in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and congestive heart failure. Many studies have showed that hawthorn fruit may possess anti-ischemia/reperfusion-injury, anti-arrhythmic, hypolipidemic and hypotensive effects, and these beneficial effects may due to the antioxidant flavonoid compounds present in hawthorn fruit.


Effects on blood pressure

Clinical study
Volunteers were randomly assigned to a daily supplement of either: 600 mg magnesium, 500 mg hawthorn fruit extract, a combination of magnesium and hawthorn friut extract, or placebo. At baseline, 5 and 10 weeks of intervention, the anthropometric, dietary assessments and blood pressure measurements were taken at rest, after exercise and after a computer 'stress' test. The results showed a significant reduction in the resting diastolic blood pressure in the hawthorn fruit group, compared with the other groups.


Effect on blood lipid level

Animal study
Hamsters with dyslipidemia and obesity were treated with hawthorn fruit or vehicle for 7 days. The food intake, body weight, adipose tissue weights, and plasma total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG), LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) and HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) were then measured. The food intake, body weights, and weights of both brown and white adipose tissues were significantly reduced in hamsters taking hawthorn fruit. Moreover, the plasma levels of TC, TG and LDL-C were decreased while the HDL-C was increased. These results indicate that hawthorn fruit can improve dyslipidemia or obesity.


Immunomodulatory effect

Animal study
Study was done to investigate the protective effect of ursolic acid from hawthorn fruit to the cyclophosphamide-induced immunosuppressive mice. The results showed that ursolic acid could significantly increase the peripheral white blood cells count, enhance the phagocytosis of peritoneal macrophages and activate the proliferation of splenic lymphocytes.

Administration and Dosage
For decoction, 10-15g each time, the dose can increase to 30g if necessary. Charred hawthron fruit is used when treating diarrhea conditions.
Adverse Effect, Side Effects and Cautions
Hawthron fruit is not recommended for individuals with peptic ulcers. For those who have a weak digestive system and without food retention, hawthorn fruit should be given with caution.

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