Hawthorn: Herbal Remedies


©2007 Publications International The hawthorn plant is used in herbal remedies for heart disease and blood pressure problems.
©2007 Publications International The hawthorn plant is used in herbal remedies for heart disease and blood pressure problems.

Like many members of the rose family, the hawthorn bears lovely, fragrant flowers; brightly pigmented fall berries, high in vitamin C; and a few thorns. The hawthorn has been a cherished plant for centuries and is mentioned in many of the old European herbals. A popular ornamental and landscaping plant, this beautiful tree flowers in May; thus, it is sometimes called the mayflower. The pilgrims who traversed the Atlantic centuries ago may have named their ship the Mayflower after the prosperous hawthorn tree.

Reverence for the hawthorn in Europe is an ancient tradition. The ancient European druids included the hawthorn with the sacred oak and the ash in a trio of trees with special powers. Europeans often left offerings of food at the base of hawthorn trees for the fairies, or little folk. Superstitions of harm coming to those who chopped down or pruned a hawthorn prevented many from tampering with the sacred tree in any way. Many people would not even bring the spring flowers inside, lest they upset the little folk.

Uses of Hawthorn

Hawthorn is an important botanical cardiotonic (capable of producing and restoring the normal tone of the heart). Medications are made from the flowers and especially the berries of the hawthorn tree. Hawthorn's many chemical constituents include the flavonoids -- anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins -- which reduce blood vessel sensitivity to and damage from oxidizing agents. Various chemicals in our environment -- pollutants, smoke, and chemicals in food -- can bind to and damage the lining of blood vessels. Hawthorn improves the integrity of veins and arteries, enhancing circulation and nutrition to the heart, thus improving the function of the heart muscle itself. This action makes it useful for cases of angina (chest pain), atherosclerosis (a buildup of fat on the inside of artery walls), weakness and enlargement of the heart, high and low blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels.

Hawthorn also may help control arrhythmias and palpitations. Early American Eclectic physicians suggested using hawthorn for valvular problems of the heart, especially when accompanied by a fast heart rate and nervousness. Modern herbalists continue to use hawthorn for such complaints.

Keep reading to learn about warnings and preparation tips for hawthorn, including a recipe for hawthorn jam and syrup.

To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.

Hawthorn Preparations and Warnings

Like any other herb, hawthorn must be handled with care.

Hawthorn Preparations and Dosage

The flowers the hawthorn plant are tinctured in the spring and the berries tinctured in the fall; the resulting liquids are mixed together to provide the full complement of active chemical constituents. The berries are quite tasty, so those with heart disease or blood pressure problems can snack

on the berries or use them to prepare medicinal foods such as hawthorn berry jam.

Tincture: Take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, three times a day. It is often combined with other heart tonics such as motherwort and garlic.

Jam or Syrup: Vitamin C-rich hawthorn berries go into this delicious jam -- which also doubles as a syrup.

  • 1 pound fresh, ripe hawthorn berries (around 3 cups)
  • 1 pound fresh apples, chopped (about 2 medium)
  • 8 cups water
  • Honey (if you prefer, using sugar makes for less runny preserves)
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Simmer the fruit in the water until soft and thick and much of the water has evaporated. Place in a jelly bag and leave to drip in a bowl overnight to remove the hawthorn pits and other large particles. Measure the strained liquid, and add an equal amount of honey. Simmer the mixture, skimming any scum that forms on the top. Add the juice of 1 lemon, stir, and pour into clean jars. Refrigerate. Use syrup on pancakes, desserts, fresh fruit, and as a sweetener in teas.

To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:

Jennifer Brett, N.D. is director of the Acupuncture Institute for the University of Bridgeport, where she also serves on the faculty for the College of Naturopathic Medicine. A recognized leader in her field with an extensive background in treating a wide variety of disorders utilizing nutritional and botanical remedies, Dr. Brett has appeared on WABC TV (NYC) and on Good Morning America to discuss utilizing herbs for health.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.