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Supplement of the Month: Hawthorn – Crataegus oxycantha

September is a month that focuses on cholesterol awareness. We wanted to share an herb that tastes good, is very effective, and can be taken every day. Hawthorn is an excellent herb to support your heart health on every level and is used to treat conditions of the heart and blood vessels. Hawthorn has a very dense, hard and hearty, knotty lower body and then on the outside it blooms with soft flowers and berries. This is symbolic of the circulatory system that it treats.

Qualities: cardiac tonic, digestant, antispasmodic, astringent, sedative, regulates blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, diuretic, antioxidant, cardioprotective

Uses: Manage low or high blood pressure, decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, treat chest pain, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and irregular heart rhythms. Also used for treatment of digestion issues including food stagnation, indigestion, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Reduces anxiety, increases urine output, and helps with menstrual problems.

Description: Hawthorn is considered medicine for the heart on all levels. Indigenous to countries across the northern hemisphere, this small thorny tree has a long-recorded history of medicinal use in both Europe and China, as well as in North America. Hawthorn is a member of the Rose family.

Hawthorn’s place as heart medicine was noted by Greek physician, Dioscorides, in the first Century AD. Medical herbal research has validated this use, finding hawthorn to be effective for increasing the strength of heart contractions, increasing blood flow to the heart, decreasing blood lipids (decreasing bad cholesterol and triglycerides) and regulating blood pressure. A Cochrane review of trials on hawthorn for chronic or congestive heart failure found that Crataegus extract decreased fatigue and shortness of breath and improved exercise tolerance. And while the traditional context is different, the Traditional Chinese Medicine use of Hawthorne for fat or rich meal digestion highlights the ability of Haw/berry antioxidants to prevent cholesterol deposits from oxidizing.

Additionally, hawthorn is used in the form of an energy medicine for the heart. As a flower essence, Hawthorn helps open the heart to giving and receiving love and can help in healing heartache. It encourages self-love and self-acceptance. As with many heart-acting energy remedies, hawthorn helps us to develop courage, an open-hearted state.

Hawthorne flower essence is further indicated for helping someone come into their strength and power and for calming a type A personality.

Warnings: Hawthorn can interact with heart medications such as digitalis.

References:

Cicero, A. F., Colletti, A. (2017). Nutraceuticals and dietary supplements to improve quality of life and outcomes in heart failure patients. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 23(8).

Pittler MH, Guo R, Ernst E. (2008). Cochrane Database Systematic Review. Jan 23 (1):CD005312. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18254076

Smith, E. (2008). Therapeutic Herb Manual: A Guide to the Safe and Effective Use of Liquid Herbal Extracts. Williams, OR: Self Published.

Thorne Research. Crataegus oxycantha (Hawthorne) Monograph. Alt Med Review. 15(2). 2010.

Tierra, L. (2003). Healing with the Herbs of Life. New York, NY: Crossing Press.

Tilgner, S.M. (2009). Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth, 4th edition. Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres LLC.

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