As you can see, we have a LOT of Hawthorns! Although, these days, Hawthorn is often relegated to being a landscaping plant useful in keeping out intruders, or used for its fruit to make a rustic jam by too few people, Hawthorn is one of the most storied and useful plants used in herbal medicine.
Said to be both the wood that made the staff of Saint Joseph, and the thorns from Which the crown of Jesus was woven, Hawthorn has become a symbol of the Catholic Church. Early Christians decorated with Hawthorn as a type of Christmas tree.
In Culpepper’s time, the Hawthorn was so commonly planted and used that he states:
It is not my intention to trouble you with a description of this tree, which is so well known that it needs none. It is ordinarily but a hedge bush, although being pruned and dressed, it grows to a tree of a reasonable height.
As for the Hawthorn Tree at Glastonbury, which is said to flower yearly on Christmas-day, it rather shews the superstition of those that observe it for the time of its flowering, than any great wonder, since the like may be found in divers other places of this land; as in Whey-street in Romney Marsh, and near unto Nantwich in Cheshire, by a place called White Green, where it flowers about Christmas and May. If the weather be frosty, it flowers not until January, or that the hard weather be over.
Government and virtues. It is a tree of Mars. The seeds in the berries beaten to powder being drank in wine, are held singularly good against the stone, and are good for the dropsy. The distilled water of the flowers stay the lask. The seed cleared from the down, bruised and boiled in wine, and drank, is good for inward tormenting pains. If cloths or sponges be wet in the distilled water, and applied to any place wherein thorns and splinters, or the like, do abide in the flesh, it will notably draw them forth.
And thus you see the thorn gives a medicine for its own pricking, and so doth almost every thing else.
The fruit of the Hawthorn tree is very astringent.
The haws or berries of the Hawthorn tree, as Dioscorides writeth, do both stay the lask, the menses, and all other fluxes of blood: some authors write, that the stones beaten to powder, and given to drink are good against the stone.
Dioscorides did, in fact, include Hawthorn in de Materia Medica, but his recommendation must be taken with a grain of salt as he said that Hawthorn consumed by a potential mother would ensure male children.
Mrs. Grieve listed the medicinal value of Hawthorn as:
Cardiac, diuretic, astringent, tonic. Mainly used as a cardiac tonic in organic and functional heart troubles. Both flowers and berries are astringent and useful in decoction to cure sore throats. A useful diuretic in dropsy and kidney troubles.
An Irish Herbal states:
The fruit is dry and astringent. It stops flows of extensive menstruation. The flowers are very good for breaking up stone in the kidneys and bladder.
Plants for A Future states:
The fruits and flowers of hawthorns are well-known in herbal folk medicine as a heart tonic and modern research has borne out this use. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure. Prolonged use is necessary for it to be efficacious. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture. The fruit is anodyne, anticholesterolemic, antidiarrhetic, antidysenteric, astringent, blood tonic, cardiotonic, haemostatic and stomachic. It is used in the treatment of dyspepsia, stagnation of fatty food, abdominal fullness, retention of lochia, amenorrhoea, postpartum abdominal pain, hypertension and coronary heart disease.
All varieties of hawthorn can be used. It may be harvested twice in a season - fresh, flowing tips, then ripe berries. Hawthorn is recognized as being good for irregularities of the heart. It dilates, strengthens and improves coronary arteries. It is good for over-exertion when we surpass the imitations of our age or fitness. Hawthorn is good for arrhythmia and good for angina. Hawthorn is especially good for the middle aged. Many herbalists believe that Hawthorn may be used as alternative to digitalis, or even used together, so one can use less digitalis.
The Rodale Herb Book states:
Aside from ornamental uses, hawthorn has been valued as a heart tonic, and this value has been increasingly studied in recent years. Promising results have been reported in connection with a variety of heart ailments, including angina pectoris and abnormal heart action. It is also said to be effective in stemming arteriosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries. Doses range from 3 to 15 grains, 3 to 4 times daily. But, the powder may also be made into a tincture by combining a pint of grain alcohol land an ounce of hawthorn berry powder. The tincture is given in doses ranging from 1 to 15 drop. Though non-toxic, hawthorn can produce dizziness if taken in large doses.
Hawthorne has also been used in treating arthritis and rheumatism, and for emotional stress in nervous conditions.
The Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicine tells us:
Crataegus is a well-studied herb for use in cardiovascular disease. Historically, it has been used for congestive heart failure, commonly in combination with cardiac glycosides as it may potentiate their effects, thereby reducing the dose of cardiac glycoside drugs. The use of Crataegus in hypertension, arterial sclerosis, and hyperlipidemia is well documented. The active principles are procyanidins in flavonoids, which cause an increase in coronary blood flow due to dilatory effects, resulting in an improvement of myocardial blood flow. The drug is positively inotropic and positively chronotropic. The cardiac effect of contagious is said to be caused by the increased membrane permeability for calcium as well as the inhibition phosphodiesterase with an increase of intracellular cyclo-AMP concentrations. Increased coronary and myocardial circulatory perfusion and reduction in peripheral vascular resistance were observed. High dose may cause sedation. This effect has been attributed to the old oligomeric procyanidins. Cretaceous extract has been found to prolong the refractory period and increase the action potential duration in Guinea pig papillary muscle. One study demonstrated that a Crataegus extract blocked the repolarizing potassium currents in ventricular myocytes of Guinea pigs. This effect is similar to that of class 3 antiarrhythmic drugs and may explain the antiarrhythmic effect of Hawthorne. Crataegus, due to its high flavonoid content may also be used to decrease inflammation, decrease capillary fragility, and prevent collagen destruction of the joints.
This article is an excerpt from The Medicinal Trees of the American South, An Herbalist's Guide: by Judson Carroll
The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
"Them that don't know him don't like him and them that do sometimes don't know how to take him, he ain't wrong he's just different and his pride won't let him do the things to make you think he's right" - Ed Bruce (via Waylon and WIllie)
The problems of the world fade way as you eat a piece of pie. This tiny ad has never known problems: