Hawthorne - Crataegus spp. (in the Rosaceae or Rose family)
Parts used: Flowers, leaves and berries.
Taste/smell: Fragrant flowers, astringent leaves, sweet and sour as well as slightly astringent berries. Note: It is best to use a mixture of berries and flowers, but berries or flowers can be used alone.
Dosage: Infusion: 1 tablespoon per cup of water; or 1:5 dry strength liquid extract: 60-120 drops 1-4 times per day.
Mental picture and specific indications: Hawthorne is indicated for irritable, nervous heart conditions, heart conditions related to an emotional heartache or spiritual heartache from a disconnection with the spirit, in conjunction with weak or slow digestion. It helps open the heart to forgiveness of others or forgiveness of life events that may be keeping a person from healing. It is specific for all heart-related ailments. This herb is a source of nutrition and support for the heart. Symptoms are worse in a warm room and better in fresh air with quiet and rest.
Use: (a) Diuretic, (b) Mucilaginous (berries), (c) Astringent (especially the leaves), (d) Antioxidant, (e) Nutritious, (f) Cardiotonic, (g) Cardioprotective, (h) Trophorestorative for the heart.
Hawthorne is not used for acute illnesses. It is an adaptogen specific for the circulatory system and is used in numerous circulatory system problems. It is a slow acting, nourishing plant which needs to be taken long term for best effects, 3 months or more. It helps maintain healthy arteries, veins and heart by enhancing the connective tissue structure of the endothelial lining of the heart, blood and lymphatic vessels. This gives these structures resiliency against injury, disease and the normal wear and tear of aging. It improves cardiac function in general. It is used for functional and organic heart disorders with pain, dyspnea, precordial oppression, rapid and feeble heart action, valvular insufficiency, cardiac hypertrophy, angina, venous stasis, endocarditis, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, cerebral circulatory disturbances, hypertension, hypotension and hemorrhoids. Hawthorne improves coronary blood flow, reducing the likelihood of anginal attacks and relieving anginal symptoms. The increased blood supply directly affects the cardiac cells, enhancing nutrition to the cells and their activity. It also decreases peripheral vascular resistance. These actions assist in lowering high blood pressure.
Arrhythmias are normalized with the use of this herb. Most chronic heart diseases can be affected by use of this herb. Research has shown objective proof of efficacy in patients with cardiac insufficiency.
The flavones affect the calcium metabolism of the myocardium by inhibiting phosphodiesterase. This increases its ability to contract and support a normal rhythm. Hawthorne can most certainly be called a cardiovascular tonic, improving overall cardiac function. It contains two main groups of active principles, flavonoids, including hyperoside, vitexin 2"rhamnoside and rutin and oligomeric procyanidins.
Contraindications: Hawthorne can decrease the need for cardiac drugs like digitoxin, digoxin and other cardiac glycosides. Herbs with cardiac glycosides include pheasant's eye (Adonis) lily of the valley (Convallaria), fox glove (Digitalis), false hellebore (Helleborus), Strophanthus and Urginea. Individuals who consume hawthorne should have all heart medications monitored by a physician.