From an old English word meaning ‘thorn-berry’, this member of the Rose family (Rosaceae) has been revered since antiquity. The Hawthorn is a beautiful tree, blooming in late May in abundant white flowers, and setting a crop of red berries by September. We use the berries predominantly for medicine, although the leaves and flowers are traditionally used as well and quite valuable.
Elemental associations: Fire
Phytochemistry: Flavonoids, saponins, tannins, glycosides
Actions: Cardio-tonic, hypotensive, mild nervine
Specific systems: Circulatory
This tree, also called the Quickthorn, is legendary in England and Ireland, where it is still revered as an herb of immortality. It has strong associations with the Goddess in all her forms, both loving and vengeful, and solitary trees were often considered ‘fairy trees’ not to be touched by axe or human hand (except the hand of those in the know, who approached the tree with suitable respect).
We use Hawthorn primarily for its beneficial effect on the heart and vasculature, where it reliably relaxes the capillaries, stimulates peripheral circulation, and thereby is successful in regulating blood pressure (reducing hypertension and improving hypotension as well). It should be the first tonic, the base for any prescription targeted to the circulatory systems.
Being a heart remedy, many have also found that the warming berries are helpful in cases of mild depression or emotional exhaustion, where they can relax and renew, especially in men who are often hypertensive with the stress of holding in emotion. Use along with relaxing diaphoretics for best results.
Indications: Blood pressure disorders (high or low), poor circulation, heart problems, mild depression
Contraindications: None really.
Preparation/Dosage: One can make a tea of the leaves and flowers, harvested in May or June, by infusing 4-6 TBS in a quart of water. This is delicious, and combines well with Lime (Linden) blossoms and a little bit of honey. The berries do well in decoction, 4 TBS per quart of water, but only simmered for 5 minutes or so. The tincture of either part, 1:3 to 1:5, is usually prepared in 40%-50% alcohol. Take ½ tsp. two or three times daily. The unsweetened jam, if available, is also a tasty delivery method few will turn down.