The main medicinal use of hawthorn is as a cardiotonic, a tonic for the heart. It looks after the heart by gradually reducing elevated blood pressure and by stimulating or depressing its activity depending on its need. Not surprisingly then, it is also used as a sedative and to reduce nervous tension.
It has a toning effect on the heart by increasing its muscular action.
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is suitable for most cardiac and circulatory disorders, and can be recommended for angina, palpitations, irregular pulse, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), valvular insufficiency, angina pectoris and inflammation of the heart muscle. Hawthorn is used both as a treatment for existing heart conditions and to help prevent their development. It acts in a normalizing way upon the heart by either stimulating or depressing its activity depending upon the need. Hawthorn can also been taken in the form of a capsules and teabags.
Hawthorn is a herbal remedy that provides us with one of
the best tonic remedies for the whole of the heart and circulatory system.
Combined with other herbs, the following recipe for a weak heart is taken from an old Herbal:
- 50 g Hawthorn
- 25 g Mistletoe
- 25 g Rosemary
Mix all herbs into a bowl and then store the mixture in a sealed glass jar away from sunlight. Prepare the mixed herbs as a cold infusion. Drink one cup before breakfast and one cup in the evening.
As its name implies, hawthorn is a bush with thorny branches that often grows to 5–15 metres high. The leaves of most Crataegus species have lobed or serrate margins and are somewhat variable in shape and its fruit is a berry.
Hawthorns provide food and shelter for many species of birds and mammals, the flowers are important for many nectar-feeding insects. For centuries, villagers believed the smell of the hawthorn was the smell of the great plague. The truth of the smell, however, is just as interesting as the myth. The flowers are mostly fertilised by carrion insects and the hint of decomposition in the perfume attracts those insects that lay their eggs and hatch out their larvae in decaying animal matter. In other words, the plant uses its perfume to trick insects into thinking it is a dead animal so that, as the insects move from flower to flower looking for a corpse they actually carry pollen from one flower to the next thereby fertilising the plant!