Hawthorn Healing Plant Properties

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Hawthorn for the Heart

by Kahlee Keane, Root Woman
dandelion plant My Aunty Pom had a good heart.

Not only did it beat with a strong love of life, but it was healthy and reliable well into old age.

As a child, I found her secret high up in a kitchen cupboard in a pretty jar labelled "Hawthorn Elixir."...
...When asked, Aunty explained that it was medicine made from red berries on the tree with the large spikes, growing at the bottom of her garden.

She showed me how to prepare them in a bit of brandy "for medicinal use only, of course. Hawthorn for the heart," she said with a twinkle in her eye.

Hawthorn has played a major role as a medicinal plant since the turn of the century. During the Middle Ages, it was a folk medicine for all heart-related ailments, including "emotions of the heart." I consider it to be an adaptogen for the cardiovascular system because it keeps proper balance, conserves energy and increases the abihty to cope with stress, whether physical, mental or emotional.

Since the late 19th century, hawthorn has been used successfully as a cardiac tonic to regulate circulation as well as treat both high and low blood pressure, rapid or arrhythmic heartbeat, inflammation of the heart muscle, angina pec-toris and early signs of circulatory problems due to aging. It is also helpful for menopausal symptoms and arteriosclerosis.

In the last decade, hawthorn has been validated both clinically and experimentally as a valuable cardiovascular herb without contraindications. It is safe enough to take daily as a preventive medicine, just as my aunt did. The consensus of controlled experimentation carried out in several countries.

Wild Plant: Hawthorn {Crataegus spp.}

Family: Rose {Rosaceae}

Description: Shrub or small tree with long, slender, sharp thorns along the branches.

Habitat: Meadow edges, thickets, open spaces and pastures.

Parts Used: Leaf, flower and berry (haw).

Ethical Wiidcrafting: The blossoms are collected in the spring, in the morning after the dew dries. The newly developed leaves should be gathered early in the year and the berries plucked in the fail when they are fully ripe. When gathering any part of the hawthorn, collect sparingly and always remember to leave plenty of berries for dependent wildlife.

Physiological Action: Cardiotonic (nourishes and improves overall cardiac function). Trophorestorative (nutritive and supportive). Vasodilator (increases blood supply to the heart muscles). Hypotensive (normalizes blood pressure). Antioxidant (prevents free radical or oxidative damage).

Focus: Hawthorn contains chemical compounds that increase blood flow to the heart muscle and positively affect other aspects of cardiovascular health. This is a safe, preventive, natural medicine that may be used long term with no toxicity or adverse side-effects.

Note: Since hawthorn can decrease the need for cardiac drugs, individuals who consume hawthorn should have all heart medications monitored by a physician.

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