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Take Heart from Hawthorn, Part One
Take Heart from Hawthorn, Part One

by Susun Weed

Hawthorn is the tree of May.

 Its many common names include whitethorn, hagthorn, ladies' meat, quickthorn, maytree, and mayblossom. Its magic and medicine are ancient and memorable. In the Ogham, it is Hath.

From the earliest times, hawthorn was considered a sacred tree.

Hawthorn is said to guard the hinges (that could be joints too, as they are hinges) and to oversee crafts. A branch of flowering hawthorn placed in a studio or workshop is believed to make the craftsperson skilled and successful. Hawthorn shuts what is open and opens what is shut. Her magic, like her medicinal effect, is slow but long lasting.

The fairies return in the spring. When. That day of the fairies return is not a calendar date, but, according to Ellen Everet Hopman, author of Tree Medicine, Tree Magic, "the day the hawthorn blooms." As the fairy gates open this May, open your heart to hawthorn. Let its beauty and strength imbue you with great heart, for hawthorn is the herb of healthy hearts.

Hawthorn (Cratageus) is notable for its long thorns and bright red haws (apple-like berries). The thorns may be used as needles; and hedges of thorny hawthorn grow quickly enough to keep even goats at bay. The tasty crimson haws -- called cuckoo's beads, chucky cheese, and pixie pears -- are tinctured, preserved in vinegar, fermented into wine or baked into little cakes to celebrate the new May.

The leaves, flowers, and ripe berries of Cratageus taste great and are easily consumed in teas, infusions, and tinctures. Consistent, long-term use of hawthorn is especially recommended for aging hearts, weak hearts, damaged hearts, and those with hypertension, angina, arrhythmia, heart valve disease, or Reynaud's disease (arterial spasms).

Regular use of hawthorn can

Lower blood pressure

Increase the effectiveness of the heart's pumping action

Strengthen the heart muscle

Slow the heartbeat

Dilate coronary arteries

Prevent heart disease, heart attack, and stroke

Help those healing from heart surgery

Support the immune system

Increase longevity

The German Commission E -- a scientific body which determines the effectiveness of herbal medicines -- recommends tea or tincture of hawthorn for

Cardiac insufficiency corresponding to stages I and II of the NYHA

Feelings of pressure and tightness in the cardiac region

The ageing heart not yet requiring digitalis

Mild bradyarrhythmia

Increasing coronary and myocardial circulation

There are no contraindications and no overdose of hawthorn. It is safe to take with any other medicine, including other heart medicines. (Though it is redundant to take blood pressure medicine after taking hawthorn for three months.)

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