Hawthorn – Materia Medica


The hawthorn tree is so valuable that not only you can use the leaves, flowers and berries for medicine, they can also be consumed as food. This plant was called the “bread and cheese tree” because it fed many people during times of famine. Today it is used medicinally, ranking alongside garlic and cayenne pepper as the top three medicinal plants for the heart. The leaf and flower of the hawthorn are favored for medicinal use, but the berry is just as valuable. Berries can be used to make jam, syrup and wine for general use and pleasure. The dried berries are quite hard and you can coarse grind them in a coffee grinder (meant only for herbs) so that you can extract the maximum benefit.

  • Common Name: Hawthorn (May blossom, Hedge thorn, May bush, May flower, White thorn)

  • Latin Name: Crataegus spp.

  • Family: Rosaceae

  • Areas of Origin: Europe, North Africa and West Asia

  • Botanical Description: A thorny shrub/small tree which can grow to 6.5’ – 19.5’. The branches are a smooth pale grey and have spines on them. The flowers are white but fade to pink; they bear red berries.

  • Parts Used: Leaves, flowers, berries

  • Uses: Believed to be good for chronic heart failure, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, circulatory disorders

  • Actions: Antiarrhythmic, astringent, antioxidant, cardiotonic, cardioprotective, hypontensive, tonic

  • Preparations: Tea (infusions), decoction, extract, capsule

  • Taste: Leaves = bitter, berries = slightly sweet

  • Safety: May not be suitable for use while pregnant or nursing

  • Contraindications (Plant-Medication Combinations): Showed inhibited contractions induced by phenylephrine. May increase effects of coronary vasodilators: theophylline, caffine, papaverine, sodium nitrate, adenosine and epinephrine. May potentially increase depressant effects of barbiturates, benzodiazepines and opioids.

Until next time, discover the power of welcoming nature’s healing plants into your life.


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