Hawthorn is used historically as a diuretic, to treat circulatory disorders, respiratory problems and kidney and bladder stones. Today, hawthorn is prescribed widely in Europe as a natural remedy for heart disease ranging from irregular heartbeat and mild high blood pressure, to chest pain, hardening of the arteries, angina and heart failure.
The berries, leaves and flowers of the hawthorn plant have all been used for medicinal purposes. Most modern preparations, however, make use of the leaves and flowers, which are believed to contain more healing flavonoids than the berries.
Hawthorn contains tannins and flavonoids, including oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), which are free-radical scavenging anti-oxidants that help dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow and protect blood vessels from damage.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there is research to support hawthorn as an effective treatment in cases of mild to moderate heart failure. Some studies show that hawthorn significantly improves heart function, others that it can enhance a person’s ability to exercise following heart failure and enable them to take less medication for their condition. Hawthorn is widely regarded in Europe as a safe and effective treatment for the early stages of heart disease and is endorsed by the German Commission E.
Hawthorn is prescribed to:
- Promote the health of the circulatory system.
- Lower cholesterol.
- Reduce high blood pressure.
- Normalise and gently strengthen the contractions of the cardiac muscle.
- Treat angina.
- Treat congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia.
- Reduce the build-up of plaque in the arteries that leads to atherosclerosis.
- Relax the smooth muscles of the uterus, intestines and other areas where contractions are abnormal and where congestion is building up.
- Reduce abnormal retention of water in the body, such as in premenstrual bloating.
- Aid digestion and the assimilation of nutrients from food.
- Act as a mild sedative.
- Act as a powerful anti-oxidant.
Flora Force Products containing Hawthorn
Domestic & culinary uses
Hawthorn berries are used in many countries to make jams, jellies and cordials. However, in South Africa, hawthorn is seldom used in the kitchen.
Hawthorn is a hardy, thorny shrub that grows in Europe, North Africa, western Asia, India, China and North America and Australia, where it was introduced by early British settlers. It prefers full sunlight in areas with high summer rainfall, but will tolerate most conditions. Hawthorn bears white, red, or pink clusters of blooms, which are followed by small berries, called haws. Plant it in a sunny position in deep, rich fertile soil and keep well watered until established.
- By Knud Ib Christensen (Donated for Wikipedia use by the photographer) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
- By Rolf Engstrand (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons