Hawthorn Berries Insulin – Please note that these plant profiles are a work in progress. I will always add to them as I continue to learn about the amazing world of plant medicine.
Identification: Botanist Ben Averis describes hawthorn as a shrub or small tree with spiny brown or reddish-brown twigs, small beds (purple-red tips in winter), and small, oblong or triangular, deeply lobed leaves with blunt edges. cut at least in half. to the central vein of the leaf. Racemes of whitish flowers in spring, red fruits in autumn (4)
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Other species: There are more than 200 species of hawthorn throughout the world. Common species to watch out for include Midland Hawthorn (C. Laevigata syn C. Oxyacantha) and Chinese Haw (C. Pinnatifidia)
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Popular English names: may-tree, thornapple, may blossom, bread and cheese, white thorn, may, quickset. Kratus is the Greek word for strong.
Chemical components: saponins; glycosides; Flavonoids (vitexin, vitexin-4rhamnoside, quercetin, quercetin-3-galactoside); Various acids, including ascorbic; Amines (phenylamine, alpha-methoxyphenylamine, tyramine in flowers); Tannins (5)
The tender shoots, leaves and buds are eaten in spring. Hawthorn berries are infused to make a tonic wine and are also infused with brandy. Herbalist Mark Pederson writes that hawthorn is high in carbohydrates, chromium, fat, and selenium (2). Hawthorn berries are also processed to make fruit skins. The fruits can also be made into jellies, jams and preserves.
Hawthorn shrubs and trees can often be found on dry to moist, acidic to basic soils, forming dense thickets and hedgerows (2). They can also be scattered in forests and grasslands.
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Cultivation: Herb farmers Melanie and Jeff Carpenter write that hawthorn likes well-drained, slightly acidic soil and does well in full sun or partial shade. Hawthorn can be propagated by softwood stem cuttings (1). Hawthorn can be susceptible to some pests and diseases, including leaf spot, rust, scale, and numerous insects (1).
Harvest: Melanie and Jeff say hawthorn leaves and flowers dry easily on racks with good airflow, minimal light, and temperatures between 101-110F. Berries can take two weeks to dry completely with heat. Store in breathable bags (1).
Heart tonic and trophorestorative: Sajah beautifully sums up the actions of hawthorns on the heart: “Hawthorn is food for the heart. As a tonic, it is restorative for the tissues of the entire cardiovascular system. From the capillaries to the heart itself, Hawthorn builds the structural integrity of the tissues, promoting greater function of the entire system and balancing any imbalances you may have (up to a point). There are many other qualities of hawthorn that support its cardiotonic property, such as lowering serum cholesterol, increasing vascular elasticity, dilating blood vessels, and improving the tone of the heart itself.” (6)
Angina: Hawthorn is useful for angina pectoris, where the chest pain is due to inadequate oxygen supply to the heart muscle. This is because it improves coronary circulation (it nourishes the heart’s own tissues).
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Digestive problems: In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), hawthorn is considered primarily a digestive remedy. It helps the liver to produce bile and helps the walls of the intestine to better assimilate fats, nutrients and vitamins. Sajah describes how hawthorn stimulates gastric juices in the stomach and bile from the liver and works as a hepatoprotector, improving metabolism and stimulating the digestion of heavier foods (6).
Nervous System Health: Hawthorn is calming to the nervous system and works well with other nerve plants. Sajah notes that hawthorn reduces heat, which is helpful in calming restlessness, irritability, anxiety, and nervousness (6).
Connective Tissue Disorders: Herbalist Anne McIntyre writes that “Hawthorn benefits the joint lining, synovial fluid, collagen, ligaments, and spinal discs. It is a good antioxidant for inflammatory connective tissue disorders and is useful in gouty arthritis and tendinitis.” (3)
Psychological health: Hawthorn is famous for being a key medicine for the heart; emotionally and physically. Sajah writes: “One of the clearest psychological indications for the use of Hawthorn is for the individual who feels ‘weak’. They feel no strength in their own hearts, strong within themselves, unclear on their path and connection to their true selves. For me, it strengthens a weak heart, clears up a confused heart, and fills half.” (6)
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Cautions: Sajah states that because it is hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), we want to be careful about using it along with blood pressure medications. Avoid in bleeding disorders or hypotension. Caution with anticoagulants, hypotensives, CNS depressants such as opiates, benzodiazepines, alcohol, anesthetics, antiepileptics or tricyclic antidepressants (the latter are theoretical interactions, the most important to consider are hypotensives). Caution with oral hypoglycemic agents, insulin or vasodilators. Hawthorn has many gifts. The flowers provide pollinators with sweet nectar and animals eat the nutritious berries. Large thorns protect the tree from grazing animals and provide a safe haven for small birds and other creatures to nest and hide. People value hawthorn as medicine to strengthen the heart and blood vessels. It relieves pressure on the heart and can be protective in times of physical and emotional stress.
Hawthorn Identification – Late September to early October is a perfect time to learn about hawthorn trees. Look for medium-sized trees with clusters of bright red berries growing in urban landscapes, fields, sunny forest patches. The branches are armed with large spines. The leaves are toothed and deeply lobed. In spring, small pinkish-white flowers in thick clusters. They smell slightly fishy and attract pollinators, including bees and flies. European hawthorn is considered a species of weed, but it is a plant beloved by herbalists and wild food gatherers. Native black river buckthorn has deep green leaves and bluish-black berries. You will find it growing along rivers and forest edges. It has many of the same ecological and medicinal benefits as European Hawthorn. It is often planted in native plant gardens and ecological restoration sites. There are more than 100 species of native and cultivated hawthorns in North America, but not all of them are medicinal. Many species of hawthorn grow throughout the world.
Food: The shoots and young leaves of hawthorn leaves are called “pepper and salt” in England and are traditionally eaten in salads. The berries taste sweet but contain a large seed which is not edible (contains cyanic acid like cherry pits and apple pits). You can eat the outer flesh and spit out the seed. The cyanic acid dissipates once the berries are cooked or dried. Hawthorn powder from the berries is added to flour in northwest Africa and is high in selenium, which is important for immune function, and chromium, which improves the function of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood levels. of blood sugar. Hawthorn berries are also used to make gelatin and are high in a thickening agent called pectin; therefore, only half of the generally recommended pectin is required to obtain a jelly-like consistency. Pectin content is highest in early fall and decreases once the berries are very ripe. Crab apples, rose hips, and hawthorn make a delicious jelly. Medicine: Hawthorn is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs to support cardiovascular health. It is very safe and is used as a daily tonic to promote general well-being and as a medicine to treat a wide range of cardiovascular disorders.
Antioxidants including proanthocyanidins and flavonoids in hawthorn leaf, flower, and berry strengthen blood vessels and help heal damaged vessel walls. They also help the arteries become more flexible. Flavonoids are plant pigments that give berries and other fruits and vegetables their color. They help protect the body from cardiovascular disease, varicose veins, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, glaucoma, and the side effects of diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, kidney damage, and vascular degeneration.
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Hawthorn has a normalizing effect on the heart. If used regularly, it can help balance high and low blood pressure by increasing the heart’s ability to contract while gently relaxing external blood vessels so the heart has less resistance to pump. Hawthorn also relaxes the smooth muscles in the walls of the coronary arteries and allows more blood to flow to the cells of the heart. This means that more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the heart cells and waste products are removed. Therefore, it is supportive for acute conditions such as angina or pain due to lack of oxygen reaching the heart. Hawthorn is also useful for treating or preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which contributes to angina and heart attacks.
Like other members of the rose family, hawthorn is a mild astringent. Contains tannins that help tighten inflamed and irritated tissue. This correlates with its traditional uses to relieve diarrhea and upset stomach.
Hawthorn is a long-term remedy and should be taken for several months to several years for maximum benefit. Think of it as a superfood for the cardiovascular system. It can be taken as a tea, tincture, cordial, or capsule. Hawthorn is also used by homeopaths and flower essence practitioners.
CAUTION: Hawthorn should not be used with cardioactive pharmaceuticals such as digoxin or beta blockers. If you are taking heart medications, consult a doctor before using hawthorn.
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Harvest the berries by cutting off healthy-looking branches with pruning shears. You can take a “pruning” approach and improve the shape of the tree. Be careful to avoid the thorns! Dry whole branches in baskets, paper bags, dehydrator, or package