Dear Radiant readers,
Today I would like to share with you Autum’s beautiful bounty of wild berries: hawthorn! These small starchy berries contain some of the most powerful phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that help our hearts.
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) berries have been used medicinally for a very long time. Hawthorn has been treasured as a mystical tree, especially in Celtic tradition. In the 19th century an Irish physician from Co. Clare, Dr. Green, used a secret preparation that was extremely successful for heart illness. Only after his death his daughter revealed that it was hawthorn extract. Modern research supports traditional use of the herb, many countries around the world officially use hawthorn: China, Russia, France, Germany, Czech republic, Brazil, Switzerland and Hungary. Current research shows that it be safely combined with any medication (Do not ingest the stones in the berries, as they can make you feel unwell – similarly to eating too many seeds from apples. Traditionally, a jelly was made from the berries and strained through a fine sieve. Only flesh of the berries was consumed.*)
It has been clinically found to be helpful for:
- Heart Attack
- High or Low Blood Pressure
- Arrithmia (irregular heart beat, palpitations)
- Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart)
- Age-related atrophy (weakened heart due to age)
- Heart damage recovery
The hawthorn works in several way:
- It improves peripheral blood supply, nourishing the heart and making it stronger, this also helps with particularly blocked arteries or after surgeries.
- It also increases the strength with which the heart beats, so allows the heart to circulate blood better.
- The heart rate is normalised – which helps with arrhythmia, and the overall rate is decreased – which is great for stress-related vascular heart conditions, so the heart has to work under “less pressure” with a slower and steady heart beat.
- Deals with free radicals that can harm the heart.
- Has a gentle nervous system calming effect. I.e. helps not only with high or low blood pressure and other heart disease, but also helps regulate one of major reasons behind it – stress.
What else is it good for?
It increases blood supply not only to heart but also brain, hence useful for memory and focus.
Helps with arterial wall strength, i.e. varicous veins and other venous problems.
How to take Hawthorn:
(1) The most fun way is to go and pick hawthorn berries, leaves (or flowers in spring) fresh. Berries can be eaten as they are (there are largish stones in the middle of each berry, so be careful when biting it first). [You can eat as many berries as you like and see how to make tea from leaves or flowers below.]
(2) Tea which you can buy in health stores or make yourself for free. [Use 2 teaspoons twice daily.]
(3) Tincture or capsules bought in health store or online. A. Vogel brand has Crataegus (Hawthorn) tincture [liquid], which is well-absorbed. [Follow recommended dose on the box.]
How to make your own hawthorn tea from scratch and for FREE:
You can find hawthorn trees in hedges all over Ireland and the UK and also in many other European countries. There are Hawthorn species native to Asia and it has been brought over to the USA and Australia (where it can be considered invasive and is not always welcome, but you might as well make lemonade, when you have lemons and use it to your advantage!;), so you should be able to find out where you can pick hawthorn in the wild in your country, if it grows wild. Otherwise – grow your own! :)
a) The leaves can be picked fresh, aim for the leaves closer to the end of the branch, as they would be fresher. Generally select leaves without blemishes and do not pick wilted or yellow/red leaves. The flower heads are picked the same way in Spring during the flowering season.
b) Lay a piece of plain (not newspaper) paper on a plug-in radiator or a central-heating system radiator (some people use one of the shelves in their hot press as well), place your leaves or flowers in rows onto the paper and leave for an hour or more over a few days if the heating is on once a day, until the leaves become completely dry.
c) Once dry (can be crunched into small pieces easily), store in an air-tight container. Crunch all of them for storage, or store whole dried leaves. Crunch enough for 2 teaspoons, place in a cup and pour boiling water over it. Wait for about 10 minutes to infuse and drink. Repeat the same in the evening. There are no dependencies or known contraindications, so this tea can be used long-term.
Hawthorn acts really well, however relatively slowly compared to drugs – so for best results brew and drink 2 teaspoons twice daily for at least 3 months! Continue taking for a few years if you already have heart problems, or you feel that you have a higher risk due to other family members showing signs of heart disease.
The scientific bit:
(quoted from, and to see the full list of references, fo to: http://floraleads.com/hawthorn.htm)
Growing body of scientific evidences confirm traditional claims of heart beneficial action of Hawthorn. In animal studies extract of Hawthorn show hypotensive and a antiarrhythmic action on ischaemic myocardium(4). Extracts were demonstrated to have anti-arrhythmic properties and increase heart muscle revascularization following experimental myocardial infarction (5). Hawthorn flavonoids were shown to cause an increase of coronary flow and increase of the relaxation velocity (most potent luteolin-7-glucoside, hyperoside and rutin) in the model of isolated guinea pig heart (7). Extracts from fruits and leaves of Hawthorn as well as a number of individual proanthocyanidins (procyanidin B-5 , proanthocyanidin A-2, procyanidin B-2, and procyanidin C-1) and to a smaller degree flavonoids (rutin, vitexin, quercetin , rhamnosylvitexin ) are able to inhibit complement-mediated hemolysis (8) and inhibit platelet adhesion by decreasing thromboxane A2 biosynthesis (9). Monoacetyl-vitexinrhamnoside, a Hawthorn flavonoid with phosphodiesterase-inhibitory properties shows antiischemic properties in ex vivo models. These observations suggest that Hawthorn may improve myocardial blood flow parameters (10). In vitro studies demonstrate the ability of Hawthorn to affect membrane ion channels and induce intracellular accumulation of cAMP in cardiac smooth muscle cells (11). Hawthorn procyanidins may be responsible for the nitric oxide-mediated relaxation in isolated rat aorta, possibly via activation of tetraethylammonium-sensitive K+ channels (6). These and other effect may account for the decreased ventricular arrhythmias, the positive ionotropic effect and the decrease in diastolic blood pressure seen in the in vivo Hawthorn studies (11). Overall laboratory studies indicate that Hawthorn is able to improve myocardial circulation and parameters of cardiac muscle activity.
*The information in this article and all others on this website is my own experience and is not medical opinion. It is not designed to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. It is your responsibility to check in with your physician, doctor or other professionals for medical consultations.