Hawthorn - Crataegus oxycantha

Red hawthorn berries are amazing medicine for heart and cardiovascular system and are easy  to harvest, dry and make into tincture.

Red hawthorn berries are amazing medicine for heart and cardiovascular system and are easy  to harvest, dry and make into tincture.

Why Get to know this plant:

The gorgeous red berries are harvested at the end of summer and early fall, and contain a mix of healthy flavonoids that promote proper heart and circulatory function. The herb is a tonic to treat cardiovascular conditions and decrease negative effects of atherosclerosis and degenerative changes to the heart from getting olders and poor lifestyle choices. The herb also offers benefits to protect collagen synthesis and prevent break down which supports tissues all throughout the body and helps fight the signs of aging.

 

Flowers appear around the first of May and are a symbol of spring. Both fresh flowers and fresh young leaves can be harvested in spring for medicinal uses and dried for tea.

Flowers appear around the first of May and are a symbol of spring. Both fresh flowers and fresh young leaves can be harvested in spring for medicinal uses and dried for tea.

Where This Plant grows:

The plant grows as large shrubs to tree size and prefers open grasslands or forest edges. It likes moist well drained soils. You can find hawthorn is prolific in parts of southern Vancouver Island and the farm areas of Greater Vancouver or elsewhere in BC.

 

How to Identify hawthorn:

The shrub is hardy and like a small tree but can also grow into thickets that can cover areas of grassland. The small tree has single thorns, grows upright and has leaves that are deeply lobed with round spreading lobes. Flowers are white to light pink and occur in the middle of spring around the first of May. Flowers are small and occur in clusters with one style each.

 

Parts Used:

In the spring the fresh leaves can be harvested or fresh flowers and dried for tea. The red ripe berries are possibly the strongest medicine from the plant and are best harvested in fall.

 

Medicinal Actions:

Medicine from (and for) the heart.

Medicine from (and for) the heart.

Cardiotonic, diurectic, astringent (helps heal and dry up mucous membranes), hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), cardioprotective by reducing myocardial oxygen demand, protects against myocardial damage, relaxant, antioxidant, helps support collagen synthesis and prevent collagen destruction.

 

Tips from Experience:

Branches full of berries can be pulled gently towards you so that you can gather in clusters. The berries come off relatively easily if you have your palms open and you pick the berries from the stems with the tips of your fingers.  Caution should be taken so that no further damage is done to the shrub since it will continue growing from those same branches in future seasons.

 

If you take your palm and surround the berries, you can use your fingers to pinch off the berries from the stem. Take care not to damage the shrub since it wants to grown and make more again next year.

If you take your palm and surround the berries, you can use your fingers to pinch off the berries from the stem. Take care not to damage the shrub since it wants to grown and make more again next year.

Caution when Harvesting: 

This plant is a sacred plant in many traditions and care should be taken to show special reverence spiritually but also to ensure that you do not pierce yourself on the single thorns that line the stems. Hawthorn is part of the rose family, so remember to approach with care. When harvesting the berries in the fall, or flowers in the spring, saying a small thank you while visiting the plant and setting an intention of the healing that you wish obtain by this harvest, this will ensure that you are both being respectful and aware of your environment so that you are careful and don’t end up with a prick.

 

Safety Considerations:

Enhances the activity of cardioactive drugs such as Digialis spp., Convallaria majalis, strophanthin and the cardiac gangliosides digitoxin and digoxin, reduces dosage needed for these cardiac glycosides. Do not use if you are on heart or cardiovascular medication without first consulting with a Naturopathic Doctor.

Crataegus is slows blood pressure and heart rate so do not use in conditions where these might be to an extreme degree.

 

Constituents in the plant:

Watch for thorns.

Watch for thorns.

Flavonoids: vitexin-4’-rhamnoside, quercetin, hyperoside, rutin, apigenin.

Proanthycyanidins in the fruit: quercetin-3-galactoside, epicatechin cyaniding, anthocyanidin. Phosphatidylcholine liposomes, phenylethylamines, cardiac tonic amines, triterpene acids, polycondensed flavonoids.

bioflavenoids (rutin, quercitin), triperpenoids, proanthocyanins, polyphenols, coumarins,

amines (in flowers only) Vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin K, Ca, Mg

 

 

References:

1.     Pojar, J., McKinnon, A.  Plants of Coastal British Columbia: including Washington, Oregon and Alaska. 1994. BC Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing. Canada p.430

2.     MacKinnon, Kershaw, Arnason, Owen, Karst, Hamersley Chambers. 2009. Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada. Lone Pine Publishing. p. 388

3.     Hoffman, David. 2003. Medical Herbalism: the Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press, Vermont USA.     p.542

4.     Anthony Godfrey, Paul Richard Saunders. 2010. Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine vol 1: Botanical Medicine Monographs.. CCNM Press Inc. Toronto, Ont. Canada. p 94-97

5.     Wood, Matthew. 2008. The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicine Plants. North Atlantic Books. p.

6.     Weiss, Rudolf. 1988. Herbal Medicine. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. Original title: Lehrbuch der Phytotherapie. 1985. Hippokrates, Verlag. Stuttgart, Germany. p.238-239

7.     Cunningham, Scott. 1994. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Llewellyn Publicaions. MN, USA. p. 118

 

Additional Detail from Herbal Monograph: 

COMMON NAMES

Hawthorn

OTHER NAMES

Crataegus oxycanta: describes both common (c. monogyna) and midland hawthorn (c. laevigata), Crataegus sp. Specimen collected is Crataegus monogyna

FAMILY

Rosaceae

HABITAT

Open grasslands or forest edges, moist well, drained soils¹

DESCRIPTION

Small tree, 5-14 m, with single thorns, upright growth, leaves deeply lobed with spreading lobes, flowers have one style not two or three. ²

PARTS USED

Traditionally berry, modern products use flowers and leaves, buds ³

CONSTITUENTS

Flavonoids: vitexin-4’-rhamnoside, quercetin, hyperoside, rutin, apigenin.

Proanthycyanidins in the fruit: quercetin-3-galactoside, epicatechin cyaniding, anthocyanidin. Phosphatidylcholine liposomes, phenylethylamines, cardiac tonic amines, triterpene acids, polycondensed flavonoids. ³

bioflavenoids (rutin, quercitin), triperpenoids, proanthocyanins, polyphenols, coumarins,

amines (in flowers only) Ascorbic acid, thiamine, vitamin K, Ca, Mg.⁴

ACTIONS

Cardiotonic, diurectic, astringent, hypotensive³

Positive inotropic, cardioprotective, cardiac trophorestorative, diuretic Increases coronary blood flow, reduces myocardial oxygen demand, protects against myocardial damage.⁴

Relaxant, antioxidant, rubefacient⁵

INDICATIONS

Tonic for cardiovascular disease. Improve coronary circulation; dialates coronary arteries, relieving cardiac hypoxemia, reduces likelihood of angina attacks. Increases contractility of cardiac muscle by assisting with availability and utilization of energy for sustained reversal of degenerative and age related changes to the heart. Cardiovascular degenerative disease, coronary artery disease and associated conditions. ³

Atherosclerosis, arrhythmia, angina, tachycardia, cardiac insufficiency, anemia, valvular insufficiency, menopause. ⁴

PHARMACOLOGY

-noncumulative, stabilizes collagen, prevents collagen destruction during inflammation by: cross-linking fibers, preventing free radical damage, inhibiting enzymatic cleavage by enzymes released from leukocytes during inflammation, decreasing atherosclerotic plaque formation: plaque gravitates to areas of inflammation

-↑ LDL binding in the liver

-↑ bile secretion, ↓synthesis of cholesterol in the liver

-↓lipid peroxidation (LDL), ↓orthostatic induced hypotension

-flavonoids: vasodilator of coronary arteries (therefore beneficial in someone who is prone to blockage and/or coronary spasm) ↓BP, ↓HR, ↑ blood supply to the heart, positive inotropic effect on heart

-↑blood flow to the heart and therefore ↑ nourishment to the heart

-antioxidant: protects the heart (pneumonia, flu, scarlet fever)⁴

SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS

Enhances the activity of cardioactive drugs such as Digialis spp., Convallaria majalis, strophanthin and the cardiac gangliosides digitoxin and digoxin, reduces dosage needed for these cardia glycosides.³

Crataegus is hypotensive and bradycardic, use in these conditions may be contraindicated⁷

PREPARATION AND DOSAGE

 

Tincture dosage 2.5 mL 3 times/day, then 2.5 mL morning and evening as maintenance dose (1:5 in 40%). For acute or severe conditions use up to 5 mL 3 times/day, in elderly continue for many months. Infusion, with 2 teaspoons of dried herb in 1 cup boiling water, 3 times/day.³

FOLKLORE

Hawthorn is the faerie tree and provides an entrance into the world of the wee people. Used to decorate the May Pole is traditional spring celebrations. Herb for healing a broken heart from matters related to love.⁸