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Hawthorn Berries

Origin- Bulgaria

Also known as

Crataegus laevigata (Midland hawthorn), Crataegus monogyna (English hawthorn), Aubepine, Bianco Spino, Crataegi Fructus, Crataegus cuneata, Crataegus oxyacantha, Crataegus pinnatifida, English Hawthorn, Epine Blanche, Epine de Mai, Haagdorn, Hagedorn, Harthorne, Haw, Hawthrone, Hedgethorn, May, Maybush, Maythorn, Mehlbeebaum, Meidorn, Nan Shanzha, Oneseed Hawthorn, Shanzha, Weissdorn, Whitehorn.

Introduction

The folklore and legends surrounding the hawthorn tree is quite large, and goes back many centuries, especially in Europe and the British Isles. The most famous hawthorn in Britain is the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury, which grows at Glastonbury Tor, the supposed resting place of King Arthur. According to legend, the tree was grown after Joseph of Arimathea, upon arriving at Glastonbury Tor, thrust his staff into the ground, and from this the tree grew. Although the original is no longer there, several of its supposed descendents still grow there. When it blooms during the winter, a sprig is traditionally sent to the Queen, who is said to decorate her breakfast table on Christmas morning. Hawthorn fruit has long been used as a food and medicine in Europe; particularly Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, where it ranks as one of the most popularly used botanical medicines, especially for treating declining heart function. Many clinical studies have been conducted on hawthorn over the past 20 years with great promise. The berry is a yellowish brown to wine-red, oval, wrinkled, and berry-like fruit (actually a pome).

Constituents

Flavonoids and oligomeric procyanidins. The berries contain more hyperoside than the leaves and flowers, and the leaves and flowers contain more vitexin rhamnoside than the berries.

Parts Used

The whole berry, dried, crushed and powdered

Typical Preparations

Hawthorn berries are more often used to make tinctures than teas, smoothies and punches. May also be taken encapsulated or as an extract.

Summary

Hawthorn berries are antispasmodic, cardiac, diuretic, sedative, tonic and vasodilator. Like hawthorn leaves and flowers, hawthorn berries have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic. The traditional use of hawthorn berries is the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure. The berries are also used to treat a heart muscle weakened by age, for inflammation of the heart muscle, for arteriosclerosis, and for nervous heart. The effect of hawthorn berry on these heart conditions is not immediate; it may be necessary to take the herb for 4 to 6 weeks to see results. Leaf and flower preparations may work faster, but hawthorn berries are better for some specific problems. A specific use for hawthorn berries is the treatment of orthostatic hypotension, a sudden loss of blood pressure caused by moving from a seated position to a standing position. Orthostatic hypotension can cause temporary loss of consciousness, and is a common complication during the first few weeks of medical treatment of high blood pressure with beta-blockers. A tincture made from a combination of hawthorn berries and camphor will not eliminate orthostatic hypotension, but it will reduce it enough that it does not cause swooning or fainting. Another often-overlooked use of hawthorn berries - this time as a tea - is treatment irritable bowel syndrome. Making a cup of tea with no more than a half-teaspoon of crushed, dried berries can relieve the constipation and gas associated with the condition. Kampo (Japanese herbal) medicine often uses crushed hawthorn berries with other herbs to treat colitis diarrhea caused by Crohn's disease, and various conditions causing rectal bleeding.

Precautions

Taken in excess, hawthorn berry teas can cause mild diarrhea. This does not occur when the berries are used to make tinctures or are encapsulated. Diarrhea is not a side effect of the leaf and flowers. Taken in excess, hawthorn berry soft drinks, especially if they are made with the powder, can cause mild diarrhea. (Rice is added to the blend to prevent stomach upset.) Diarrhea does not occur as a result of using the herb when the berry powder is used to make tinctures or are encapsulated. Diarrhea is not a side effect of the leaf and flowers.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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