Herb Profile: Hawthorne - Crataegus doulasii, Crataegus columbiana
Look at these beautiful Hawthorne berries, leaves and twigs!
All parts of this plant can be used including the berries, leaves, twigs and flowers. There are many uses for the plant including digestive complaints such as indigestion, stomach pain and diarrhea. It has been known to be a diuretic, to help relieve menstrual problems and as a wash for boils, sores, ulcers and frostbite. It has also been known to improve anxiety and have sedative properties.
But most remarkably it is a very powerful heart tonic. And here is why: Hawthorne works as a strong and safe vasodilator; the most prominent active component called proanthocyanidin causes the relaxation of blood vessels further from the heart which improves the amount of blood pumped from the heart as it contracts. It also widens the vessels and increases the transmissions of nerve signals helping the heart to work in a more efficient manner. Overtime it works to strengthen the heart and circulatory system and ultimately lower blood pressure.
The berries are also loaded with bioflavonoids which are powerful antioxidants helping to banish free radicals (the bad guys) and strengthen your veins. Bioflavonoids also have anti inflammatory properties which help to relax the blood vessels while the anti microbial properties work to stop low level infections from harming the heart; keeping one of your most hard working organs strong and healthy.
High levels of minerals including calcium and magnesium help the heart to contract and increases the available oxygen in the body which in turn helps to strengthen coronary blood vessels as well.
For all of these reasons which sound dry but are rather important; the regular and consistent use of Hawthorne is recommended for ageing hearts, weak or damaged hearts, hypertension, angina, arrhythmia, valve disease or arterial spasms. It is also great to prevent heart attacks and disease, stroke and to help heal after heart surgery. So you can see why it is a great heart tonic for every human; because taking care of our hearts is a great way to ensure long healthy happy lives.
Interestingly Hawthorne is safe to take with medicications having no counteractions and no overdose; though famous herbalist Susun Weed says that after 3 months of taking Hawthorne you should be able to eliminate any heart mediciations - I recommend consulting with your doctor and/or naturopath before stopping any medications.
The easiest and best way to incorporate this herb into your life is via infusion whereby you would add one ounce of the herb to a quart mason jar topping with boiling water and allowing to steep for 4 hours to over night. Drink at least half a cup of the infusion daily, if you make a tea (which would be the same method with less herb so it would be less strong) you will need to drink at least a full cup daily. This is a remedy thats benefits build through continued use, though it is incredibly effective if used consistantly over time.
The berries are dark and deep red right now and great to harvest if you have access to some. They are hard to miss once you spot them so keep your eyes open!