Being a long time cardiac OR nurse, I learned that both naturopathic and allopathic doctors in Europe routinely prescribed hawthorn herb (Cratageus) to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Commission E, the German version of the FDA, approves hawthorn for many heart problems. It is one of the most prescribed heart remedies by German physicians.
I appreciate that medicine in other countries is preventative and still relies on more natural remedies—with excellent results. With the U.S. mindset heavily weighted on side-effect laden pharmaceuticals, I feel we are missing better solutions before we get sick. Especially since heart disease is our leading cause of death.
Hawthorn’s place as heart medicine was noted by Greek physician, Dioscorides, in the first Century AD.
Hawthorn (Cratageus – any genus), is a small tree or shrub that grows throughout the northern hemisphere. The leaves, flowers, and ripe berries of Cratageus oxyacantha taste great and are easily consumed in teas, infusions, and tinctures.
“Use of hawthorn is especially recommended for aging, weak, and damaged hearts, and those with hypertension, angina, arrhythmia, heart valve disease, or Raynaud’s disease (arterial spasms)” (source). It is readily available online as:
Current herbal research (AltMedReview, 2010) has validated hawthorn to be effective for:
- increasing the strength of heart contractions
- increasing blood flow to the heart
- decreasing blood lipids (ie decreasing bad cholesterol (LDL), and triglycerides)
- modulating blood pressure
A Cochrane review of trials on hawthorn for chronic or congestive heart failure found that, “Crataegus extract decreased fatigue and shortness of breath and improved exercise tolerance relative to placebo. And the Traditional Chinese Medicine use of Hawthorne for fat or rich meal digestion highlights the ability of Haw/berry antioxidants to prevent cholesterol deposits from oxidizing.” (source)
Hawthorn is a mildly calming herb for the nervous system—a great help considering that stress and nervousness often accompany heart problems.
And importantly, their antimicrobial actions stop low-level infections like those associated with gum disease from harming the heart. (source)
While renowned western herbalist and author Susun Weed writes, “There are no contraindications and no overdose of hawthorn”, Dr. Axe recommends not taking hawthorn if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and do not give hawthorn products to children.
These studies show “…the low/negligible incidence of side effects experienced by patients indicate that [hawthorn berry offers] significant potential as a useful remedy in the treatment of CVD.” (source)
Hawthorn Tincture Recipe:
- Fill a pint or quart jar halfway with dried Hawthorn Berries
- completely cover with Vodka (80 proof)
1. If you pick your own, pick them when bright red from a properly-identified Hawthorn tree before hard frost in Autumn, remove from stems and allow them to dry a few weeks or more till wrinkled.
2. Stir, seal, and store the container in a cool, dark place.
3. Allow it to infuse for at least 6 months. Stir occasionally. It will be quite red when finished.
Storage: Any alcohol-based tincture will have an indefinite shelf life and thus are wonderful for the prepared homemaker’s medicine cabinet.
Christopher Hobbs, Ph.D. writes:
“I have a special affection for this herb, because it helped my father strengthen his heart and significantly increase the quality of his circulation. Twenty-six years ago he had a heart attack and has been taking hawthorn in extract form for over 15 years with excellent results.
In my own experience, it is the first herb, besides garlic, that should be added to one’s daily dietary regimen when there is any suspicion of problems of cardiovascular disease. If one has a family member who has heart or vascular problems, or for people eating a diet that includes moderate to high levels of fat (especially from dairy products or red meat), or who are stressed or using stimulants (such as coffee), hawthorn is an excellent protector.
Hawthorn works slowly, like all herbal tonics. It should be taken for at least 3 months, up to several years or longer, if needed. It is safe to use concurrently with allopathic drugs such as digoxin and may even allow a person to reduce the dose of this commonly prescribed, but highly toxic medicine.
In this modern age with its times of stress and anxiety, it is reassuring that nature has provided such a gentle yet effective cardiovascular protector as hawthorn.”Medical Disclaimer: I am no longer a practicing medical professional, and I am not doctor. I am a mother. I do seek scientific confirmation of the safety and effectiveness of the herbs and remedies I use. Using remedies is a personal decision. Nothing I say on this blog is intended to treat or prevent disease. Consult your own doctor.
How to Take Hawthorn Tincture:
A dose is a dropperful of tincture, taken first thing in the morning and last thing at night. For the first three months of use, a third dose, mid-day, may be added. Traditional European herbalists always add a spoon of honey to hawthorn tea. They believe that sweetness heals the heart. (source)
Hawthorn tea is typically made by steeping two teaspoonfuls of dried leaves and flowers in a cup of boiling water for twenty minutes.
‘Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.’ ~Genesis 1:29