Take Heart from Hawthorn, Part Two
by Susun Weed
Hawthorn is member of the rose family, and thus closely related to rose hips, apples, cherries, apricots, and almonds.
Hawthorn tea is typically made by steeping two teaspoonfuls of dried leaves and flowers in a cup of boiling water for twenty minutes. Hawthorn infusion is made by steeping one ounce of dried flowers and leaves or one ounce of dried haws in a quart of boiling water for at least four hours. I make hawthorn tincture by soaking fresh or dried hawthorn haws in 100 proof vodka for at least six months, or until it turns quite red.
A dose is a cup of tea, half a cup of infusion, or 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 big spoon of honey to hawthorn tea or infusion. They believe that sweetness heals the heart.
Hawthorn's ability to slowly lower blood pressure is well documented, although the mechanism of its action is unclear. Hawthorn does not block calcium channels nor is it a diuretic. In fact, it is highly regarded as a safe way to lower blood pressure when the patient is diabetic or has kidney disease. An injectable preparation of hawthorn was widely used in modern medicine prior to the introduction of blood pressure drugs and heart-valve surgery. It is still available in Germany.
The elder Rodale (J.I.) wrote of his heart and its response to hawthorn in Organic Gardening in the early 1970s, nourishing my interest in it. His editorials praising his renewed health and vigor stand as a modern-day testament to an age-old herb. He even wrote a book about his experience with hawthorn.
The leaves, flower buds, flowers, and berries/haws of the hawthorn are all rich in anti-oxidant flavonoids. Flavonoids benefit the heart and blood vessels in many ways. Their powerful anti-inflammatory effects relax the blood vessels. Their anti-microbial actions stop low-level infections — like those associated with gum disease — from harming the heart. And flavonoids support healthy functioning of the immune system and the liver. No wonder hawthorn is the herb of longevity in stories and tales!
In addition to flavonoids, hawthorn is rich in minerals. Numerous authors have scratched their heads in amazement that hawthorn can have any helpful effect since it has no harmful effect. Pharmacological studies of its constituents evidence "no objectively assessable results." There just isn't enough "active ingredient" to account for its observable actions. But herbalists understand that the magic of hawthorn is in the sum of the parts, not in one active principle.
The nutrients in hawthorn assist its active ingredient so that the heart and circulatory system are slowly and deeply healed on multiple levels. Hawthorn carries its magnesium and calcium directly to the heart muscles, enhancing their ability to contract and increasing available oxygen. This beneficial effect extends into the coronary blood vessels as well. Hawthorn is unique in its ability to strengthen the weak heart and carry the old heart into a healthy future.
Hawthorn works thoroughly, dependably, and slowly. Consistent use of the remedy is required for benefits to accrue. But, once gained, improvement persists. I take hawthorn berry tincture daily to keep my nearly 80-year old heart in great shape.
There's magic and medicine in the tree of May, hawthorn. Take some home for yourself today.
green blessings, Susun