Grinding Hawthorn Berries

Grinding Hawthorn Berries – “His thorns are like nails; inches long and strong; stretchable. And yet, it is unlikely that a gentler, more nutritious medicinal plant will be found.” Jim McDonald

For today’s article, I am sharing excerpts from Alchemy of Herbs about the many healing gifts of hawthorn. I’m also including one of my favorite recipes of all time: Hawthorn Cordial.

Grinding Hawthorn Berries

Hawthorn from the Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Medicines That Heal Rosalee de la Forêt (Hay House, 2017)

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Since heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, it surprises me that more people don’t know about hawthorn. Before I start sounding like a snake oil salesman, I should mention that people get heart disease for a number of reasons, and hawthorn is not a medicine that you can take regardless of the mainstays of wellness such as a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.

European culture has long been fascinated by hawthorn, and many myths and bits of folklore surround this thorny tree. In addition to its medicinal uses, the tree’s hardwood was made into tools, and the tree’s dense, thorny nature made it a popular choice as a natural hedge or fence. Various species of hawthorn are native to North America, where 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 the spring, hawthorn trees produce a profusion of lovely white to pink flowers. After pollination, the tree begins to form many clusters of berries that ripen in late summer. These red berries are dry and mealy and can range from bitter to sweet, depending on the variety.

Hawthorn is a tree from the rose family that grows throughout the northern hemisphere. There are more than 280 species, and herbalists use them all in similar ways. The species most studied in science were

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The current paradigm of Western medicine for treating chronic diseases relies heavily on suppressing symptoms rather than addressing the factors that cause the problem. For example, if you have seasonal allergies, your doctor may give you something to block your body’s attempt to make histamine, but doctors often don’t give anything to modulate your immune system and prevent allergy symptoms. This paradigm can be seen in the range of drugs used by Western medicine to treat the symptoms of heart disease. While this attempted band-aid may save lives in the short term, it does not address why a person has heart disease in the first place.

In fact, many commonly prescribed medications actually deplete the body of 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 high blood pressure, deplete the body of potassium. Lack of potassium leads to irregular heart function. Hawthorn, by nourishing and strengthening the heart, does something that no other medicine can claim.

How does hawthorn work? Like most plants, hawthorn works in numerous and complex ways, many of which we do not yet understand. However, one important factor is the high content of flavonoids in hawthorn. Heart disease is often associated with inflammation, and regular consumption of plants and foods rich in flavonoids has been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

From the 1950s until relatively recently, we mistakenly believed that eating cholesterol-rich foods caused high cholesterol levels. An updated perspective on high cholesterol is its association with systemic inflammation, which hawthorn, with its high flavonoid content, helps reduce.

Hawthorn Berries: Identify, Harvest, And Make An Extract |

For decades, scientists have studied hawthorn in relation to various symptoms of heart disease. In one study, researchers gave people with diabetes and coronary heart disease 1,200 mg of hawthorn leaf and flower every day for six months. After that time, those taking hawthorn showed a greater trend toward lower LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and reduced neutrophil elastase (an enzyme that, when elevated, is associated with heart disease) than those taking a placebo.

The dose used in this study was relatively low compared to herbalists’ standards and it would be interesting to see the effects of the higher doses that herbalists use more often.

For herbalists, one of the most common indications for hawthorn is high blood pressure. Some herbalists use hawthorn alone, others combine it with other herbs, and herbalists usually suggest it along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. After centuries of use, it remains a favorite for reducing hypertension.

Clinical trials have supported this traditional use. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in Iran, 92 men and women with mild hypertension took an extract of a local species of hawthorn for four months. Blood pressure was measured every month, and the results showed a significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after three months.

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Another study gave hawthorn to patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and found that the herb reduced diastolic blood pressure.

Herbalist Charles Kane says, “As a medicine for the heart, there is no other herb with such positive yet gentle action as hawthorn.”

In addition to helping reduce certain heart problems such as high blood pressure 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 took high doses of a patented hawthorn product. After 24 weeks, the researchers observed a significant improvement in symptoms, including a reduction in ankle edema, improved heart function, and reduced blood pressure.

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Another trial used the same hawthorn product, but the patients were studied 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 use berries more often; 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 infusing them in alcohol or vinegar or making honey, jams or even ketchup. I recommend regular consumption of hawthorn in large quantities; daily intake keeps hearts nourished and strong!

Hawthorn berries are a food-like plant that humans can consume in large quantities as food. For best results with berries, leaves or flowers, use it daily and long term.

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Tea: up to 30 grams of berries and up to 30 grams of leaves and flowers per day

This hearty hawthorn recipe combines the nutritious properties of hawthorn with delicious spices that aid digestion. Consume in small quantities after the evening meal. (I find it helps me unwind from the day.)

I recently brought this to a kettle and served 1 to 3 teaspoons of cordial in about 1 cup of sparkling water for a low-alcohol cocktail. It was a hit, and several people asked to buy a bottle from me (I gave them the recipe instead).

Need organic herbs or supplies? Get them here! This post is sponsored by our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs.

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Hawthorn hearty recipe from Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal Rosalee de la Forêt (Hay House, 2017)

She is a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Association and teaches students from around the world how to use herbs with confidence. Explore more plants from Rosalee on her website, Plants from Rosalee, where you can get her free course on How to Choose the Best Plant for You.

HerbMentor runs many courses including Getting Started with Herbs, Herbal Basics, Wildcrafter’s Toolkit & Cultivating Wellness… our Community Forum… Plant Walks, Exclusive Plant Monographs and more. Harvesting hawthorn berries is new for me this year. They are sweet and mild if you get them at the right time, and in past years I have tasted them too early in the fall. This year, Washington hawthorn was sweet and mild in late October. But by then the one-seeded hawthorns have already started to rot, so next year I’ll look for them in mid-October.

I owe some credit to Josh Fecteau’s recent hawthorn post for inspiring me to try hawthorn berries again. As Josh points out, there are many species of hawthorn, maybe 50 in New England. And, in all of North America, probably a thousand species, according to George Symonds (from his wonderful book Tree Identification Book: A New Method for the Practical Identification and Recognition of Trees

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, my favorite tree ID learning guide). Fortunately, you don’t have to be able to identify specific species. You just need to know it’s a hawthorn, because all hawthorns have edible berries. HOWEVER, like apple seeds, hawthorn seeds contain cyanide and should not be eaten. Don’t panic; just spit out the seeds.

Why bother with hawthorn? They are beautiful, interesting and delicious wild foods with known health benefits. Some people use the berries to make hawthorn jelly, but I have yet to try this. Berries, leaves and flowers can be