Cooking With Hawthorn Berries – “Its thorns are like nails; inches long and strong; traction. Yet, a gentler and more nutritious medicinal plant is unlikely to be found ”. -jim mcdonald
For today’s article I share excerpts from Alchemy of Herbs on hawthorn’s many healing gifts. I also include one of my all-time favorite recipes: Hawthorn Cordial.
Cooking With Hawthorn Berries
Hawthorn from Alchemy of Herbs: Turn everyday ingredients into foods and remedies that cure by Rosalee de la Forêt (Hay House, 2017)
Frontier Co Op Hawthorn Berries, Whole, Organic 1 Lb.
Given that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, it’s surprising to me that more people don’t know about hawthorn. Before I start looking like a snake oil salesman, I should note that people suffer from heart disease for a number of reasons, and hawthorn is not a silver bullet cure you can take while ignoring major wellness fundamentals such as a healthy diet. and an active lifestyle.
European culture has long been fascinated by hawthorn, and many myths and fragments of folklore surround this thorny tree. In addition to being used for medicine, the hardwood of the tree was made into tools, and the thick, thorny nature of the tree made it a popular choice as a natural hedge or fence. Various species of hawthorn are native to North America, where the First Nations used it to treat a variety of ailments, including wounds and digestive problems. People in China also have a well-developed relationship with hawthorn, often using it for stagnant digestion.
In spring, hawthorn trees produce a myriad of lovely white to pink flowers. After pollination, the tree begins to form many berry clusters that ripen in late summer. These red berries are dry and floury and can range from bitter to sweet, depending on the species.
Hawthorn is a tree in the rose family that grows throughout the Northern Hemisphere. There are more than 280 species and herbalists use them all equally. The most studied species in science have been
Hawthorn, May, Maythorn, Whitethorn, Crataegus Monogyna/laevigata
The current paradigm of Western medicine for treating chronic diseases relies heavily on suppressing symptoms rather than addressing the factors causing the problem. For example, if you have seasonal allergies, a doctor might give you something to block your body’s attempt to create histamine, but professionals often give nothing to modulate your immune system and prevent allergy symptoms in the first place. This paradigm can be seen in the range of pharmaceuticals that Western medicine uses to address the symptoms of heart disease. While this patch attempt can save lives in the short term, it doesn’t address why the person has heart disease in the first place.
In fact, many commonly prescribed medications actually deplete the body of the nutrients needed for heart health. Statins, commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol, deplete the body of CQ10, an important enzyme for a healthy heart. Diuretics, commonly prescribed for hypertension, reduce potassium in the body. Potassium deficiency leads to an irregular heartbeat. Hawthorn, in nourishing and strengthening the heart, does something that no other drug can claim.
How does hawthorn work? Like most herbs, hawthorn works in numerous and complex ways, many of which we don’t yet understand. However, an important factor is the high flavonoid content of hawthorn. Heart disease is often related to inflammation, and regular consumption of herbs and flavonoid-rich foods has been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
From the 1950s until fairly recently we have mistakenly believed that eating high-cholesterol foods caused high cholesterol levels. An updated perspective on high cholesterol levels is its relationship to systemic inflammation, which hawthorn, with its high flavonoid content, helps reduce.
Organic Way Hawthorn Berries Fruit Whole (crataegus Monogyna)
Researchers have been studying hawthorn for decades in connection with various symptoms of heart disease. In one study, researchers gave people with diabetes and coronary heart disease 1,200 mg of hawthorn leaves and flowers every day for six months. After that time, those taking hawthorn showed a greater tendency towards a decrease in LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and a decrease in neutrophilic elastase (an enzyme that, when elevated, is related to heart disease) than those taking taking a placebo.
The dose used in this study was relatively low compared to standard herbalists and it would be interesting to see the effects of the higher doses more commonly used by herbalists.
For herbalists, one of the most common indications for hawthorn is hypertension. Some herbalists use hawthorn individually, others combine it with other herbs, and herbalists commonly suggest it along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. After centuries of use, it remains a favorite for reducing hypertension.
Clinical studies have supported this traditional use. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in Iran, 92 men and women with mild hypertension ingested an extract of a local species of hawthorn for four months. Blood pressure was measured every month and the results showed a significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after three months.
Hawthorn Cordial & Wild Drinks And Cocktails
Another study administered hawthorn to patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and showed that the herb reduced diastolic blood pressure.
Herbalist Charles Kane says, “As a heart medicine there is no other herb with such a positive but gentle influence as hawthorn.”
In addition to helping reduce particular heart problems such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia, hawthorn has been shown to improve overall heart function in people with mild to moderate heart disease.
One study looked at 1,011 people diagnosed with stage 2 heart disease who were taking a high dose of a proprietary hawthorn product. After 24 weeks, the researchers observed significant improvement in symptoms, including decreased ankle edema, improved heart performance, and decreased blood pressure.
Hawthorn Berry Ketchup
Another study used the same hawthorn product but studied patients for two years. After that time, those taking hawthorn had significant improvements in the three main symptoms of heart disease, including fatigue, pain with increased exertion, and palpitations, compared to the control group. The researchers concluded that hawthorn had a clear benefit for patients with mild to moderate heart failure.
Western herbalists tend to use berries more frequently; however, research studies have paid more attention to the flower and leaf in recent years.
You can eat the berries as food and enjoy them in a variety of ways, including by steeping them in alcohol or vinegar or turning them into honeys, jams, or even ketchup. I recommend regularly enjoying hawthorn in large quantities; taking it every day keeps hearts fed and strong!
Hawthorn berries are a food-like herb that people can consume in larger quantities, as you would a food. For best results with berries, leaves or flowers, use it daily and long-term.
Are Hawthorn Berries Edible?
Tea: up to 30 grams of berries and up to 30 grams of leaves and flowers per day
This hearty hawthorn recipe combines the nutritional qualities of hawthorn with delicious spices that aid digestion. To be enjoyed in small quantities after an evening meal. (I find it helps me unwind from the day.)
I recently took it to a potluck and served 1 to 3 teaspoons of cordial in about 1 cup of sparkling water for a low-alcohol cocktail. It was a success and several people asked me to buy a bottle (I gave them the recipe instead).
Do you need herbs or organic supplies? Get them here! This post is sponsored by our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Hawthorn Oxymel: A Simple Recipe
Hawthorn Cordial Recipe from Alchemy of Herbs: Turn everyday ingredients into healing foods and remedies by Rosalee de la Forêt (Hay House, 2017)
She is a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild and teaches students around the world how to safely use medicinal plants. She explores other herbs with Rosalee on her website, Herbs with Rosalee, where you can get her free course, How to Choose the Best Herb for You.
HerbMentor hosts many courses including Herbal Getting Started Guide, Herbal Basics, Wildcrafter’s Toolkit and Cultivating Wellbeing … our community forum … Plant Walks, Exclusive Herbal Monographs and more. This hawthorn and rosebud berry syrup contains ingredients that are often used in traditional Chinese medicine. I wanted to create an herbal syrup that was versatile enough, something that would fit a busy contemporary Singaporean family with young children (meaning pancakes for breakfast, chicken rice for lunch) and still allow me to sneak in some well-being and care in my family diet. This particular combination of dried Chinese herbs – hawthorn berries, licorice root and schisandra fruit – is ideal for warm weather as they nourish yin and improve appetite.
Flavor was key to me in trying to combine the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine with delicacy, usefulness and indulgence. This herbal syrup draws its sweetness from licorice root (this is subtle and complex even though it is considered sweeter than sugar!), Chinese dates (which are nutrient-rich) and hawthorn berries (part of the nostalgic flavor of hawthorn flakes we ate growing up here in Singapore). Schisandra fruit gives it a captivating acidity and a hint of bitterness, I suspect, along with licorice (think Negroni).
Magical Hawthorn Mulled Apple Cider & Gathering To Heal
I feel the rosebuds give balance to the mixture. Immersed rather than boiled, the slightly floral qualities of the dried buds help complement the sweetness and acidity of this herbal syrup. But you can omit them if you don’t
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