Hawthorn loves the heart. It lowers high blood pressure and raises low blood pressure. Hawthorn, like other adaptogens, focuses on stabilizing the existing system to achieve a healthy balance.
Being a long time cardiac OR nurse, I learned that both naturopathic and allopathic doctors in Europe routinely prescribed hawthorn herb (Cratageus) to prevent and revert cardiovascular diseases.
Commission E, the German version of the FDA, approves hawthorn for heart problems. It is one of their most prescribed heart remedies.
With the U.S. mindset heavily weighted on side-effect laden pharmaceuticals, I feel we are missing better solutions before we get sick. As an adaptogen, it is best to allow hawthorn several weeks to several months to adjust a damaged system. Hawthorn works well with other tonic herbs and strengthens their effect on the body. (source)
Hawthorn (Crataegus species, a.k.a. Mayhaw and Thornapple) grows all over Eurasia and the Americas and has hundreds of species adapted to their native climate.
How does hawthorn support cardiovascular health?
- Appears to improve the metabolism of the heart, thereby increasing strength and promoting regular contractions of the heart, helping to normalize arrhythmias 8
- Has a relaxing effect that helps regulate blood pressure 9
- Can be useful in the recovery period after a heart attack by strengthening the heart muscle, and improving blood flow and oxygen to the heart, and in treating congestive heart failure10 11
- Helps prevent free radical damage1213
- Improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to the heart by dilating blood vessels7 8, and helps alleviate the pain associated with angina
Hawthorn has a positive inotropic effect on the heart similar to cardiac glycosides while it reduces arrhythmia. It’s a mildly calming herb to use to prevent palpitations due to stress. (source)
It should be no surprise that it also tones capillaries in other parts of the body. Bloodshot eyes, glaucoma, varicose veins and hemorrhoids are all soothed by including hawthorn in the treatment plan.
A Cochrane review of trials on hawthorn for congestive heart failure found that hawthorn, “..decreased fatigue and shortness of breath and improved exercise tolerance.
And importantly, its antimicrobial actions stop low-level infections like those associated with gum disease from harming the heart. (source)
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.
In the European Journal of Heart Failure) the authors write that hawthorn extract “can reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac death in patients with less compromised left ventricular function.”
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.”