I was reading Rosemary Gladstar’s great book, Family Herbal when I first “met” Hawthorn. She thinks every woman should feed Hawthorn jam to their husbands over 40 to keep their hearts healthy. This is a significant claim to make, and I appreciate Rosemary’s teachings so I started my research and dug deep in the books and other resources.
A little history
Hawthorn berries have been used to treat heart disease as far back as the 1st century. By the early 1800s, doctors used it to treat circulatory disorders and respiratory illnesses. Traditionally, the berries were used to treat heart problems ranging from irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pain, hardening of the arteries, and heart failure. Today, besides the berries the leaves and flowers are used medicinally, and there is some research that suggests that hawthorn might be effective when used in the treatment of mild to moderate heart failure.
It has been regarded as the most important cardiac tonic in both Chinese and Western herbalism. A syrup of Hawthorn berries was used as a heart tonic by the private physician of King Henry IV of France.
The characteristics of the berries are similar to those of the leaf and flower. Upon administering orally an increase in myocardial contractility may be observed due to procyanids as well as an increased coronary blood flow.
Hydroalcoholic Extracts: 2-2.5ml daily
Powdered Hawthorn Berries: 0.3-1g 3 times daily or as an infusion
Liquid extract (1:1 in 25% ethanol) 0.5-1 ml three times daily
Tincture (1:5 in 45% ethanol) 1-2 ml three times daily
Decoction: Simmer two teaspoons of dried berries in a cup of water for 15 mins and drink three times daily or see these decoction ideas
Overdose & Interactions with drugs
No toxic effect reported, however if taken on the long term, it may cause dangerously low blood pressure & fatigue. Caution should be taken when taking while on digitalis-based jeart medications (Lanoxing/Digoxin). The interaction may require to lower the dose up to half of the original dose when taking Hawthorn.
Please note: Hawthorn’s beneficial effects for the heart and blood pressure develop slowly so it should not be used to treat acute angina attacks
Warning: People who are allergic to the rosaceae family or are pregnant should not take Hawthorn at all.
Other beneficial effects
Hawthorn berries are saturated with flavonoids, thus their use may stabilize collagen and help prevent collagen tissue loss due to inflammation and oxidation plus they aid the body in maintaining healthy connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, cartilage). Hawthorn also contains rutin which enhances Vitamin C activity and strengthens capillaries for people who bruise a lot.
- ESCOP Monographs: the Scientific Foundation for Herbal Medicinal Products
- A guide to evidence-based integrative and complementary medicine By Vicki Kotsirilos, Luis Vitetta, Avni Sali
- The New Woman’s Herbal & Nutritional Guide By Marie Miczak
- Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal: A Guide to Living Life with Energy, Health, and Vitality
- The Herbal Kitchen: 50 Easy-to-Find Herbs and Over 250 Recipes to Bring Lasting Health to you and your family by Kami McBride, Rosemary Gladstar