Crataegus oxyacantha L. (syn. C. rhipidophylla Gand.) (Rosac-eae) is one of the
two medicinally recognized hawthorn species in European Pharmacopeia. Standardization of
the extract prepared from the berry and flowers of the plant is required according to its oligomeric
procyanidins. C. oxyacantha is well-known for its use in the treatment of various
heart problems particularly, including heart failure in cases of declining cardiac performance
equivalent to stages I and II of the New York Heart Association classification, angina pectoris,
hypertension with myocardial insufficiency, mild alterations of cardiac rhythm, and atherosclerosis.
C. oxyacantha has been reported to exert several other pharmacological activities
such as hypotensive, antihyperlipidemic, antihyperglycemic, anxiolytic, immunomodulatory,
and antimutagenic. Oligomeric procyanidins and flavone/flavonol types of flavonoids, which
are considered to be the chief groups of active substances, phenolic acids, triterpenes, fatty
acids, and sterols are present in the plant. The present review aims mainly to outline cardiotonic
effect of C. oxyacantha as well as its brief phytochemistry. Numerous experiments
and clinical studies have underlined cardiovascular efficacy of the plant through various
mechanisms including positive inotropic and negative chronotropic effects, escalation in
coronary blood flow and exercise tolerance, inhibition of the enzymes such as angiotensinconverting
enzyme (ACE) and phosphodiesterase, anti-inflammatory and antihyperlipidemic
effects, improving status of antioxidant enzymes, etc., which support its cardioactive efficacy.
The plant possesses several other bioactivities for human health usually concomitant to
its rich polyphenolic content.