Where Can I Find Hawthorn Berries – Hawthorn has a long history of use in traditional Western herbal medicine and is loved for its affinity with the heart. The red berries of
An ingredient in jams, wine, liqueurs and sweets for centuries. A member of the rose family, hawthorn is a large shrub covered with sharp thorns. Sometimes spelthawthorne, the berries are picked fully ripe in the fall before the first frost. Hawthorn berry is often soaked in herbal vinegars and syrups, infused with ashawthorn tea, or used in tinctures.
Where Can I Find Hawthorn Berries
Hawthorn leaf, flower and berry have been prized throughout the ages for their heart uplifting properties. Believed to elevate and strengthen both the physical and emotional heart, hawthorn, as it supports healthy cardiovascular function, has also been revered for ceremonial and spiritual purposes. The flavorful red berries have been used in candies, jams, jellies, wine and liqueurs and are widely available as dietary supplements in many forms.
Simple Ways To Harness The Healing Power Of Hawthorn
Is a thorny shrub or tree with stems and trunks composed of hard wood and gray bark, often with three-lobed leaves and white flowers resembling other genera in the Rosaceae family, bearing bright red berries. About 280 species are known, several of which are used in traditional medicine and can be used interchangeably. Generally,
Is derived from the Greek ‘kratos’ which means hardness and refers to the wood, ‘oxcus’ which means ‘sharp’ and ‘akantha’ which is a thorn. In several countries in Europe, especially Germany, the hawthorn was used as a hedge, with ‘haw’ being an older term for ‘hedge’. This shrub was also called ‘white thorn’ because of its light bark.
Most hawthorn grown for commercial purposes comes from the United Kingdom and other countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, the former Yugoslavia and Poland. Collect the flowering branches in the spring, because all parts (leaves, twigs, spines, flowers) can be used for fresh tincture. Or if it dries, steals and discards spines. The berries are best harvested in the fall when they are fully ripe and before the first frost.
Hawthorn has been used since the Middle Ages, and some stories go back as far as the first century to the Greek herbalist Dioscorides. It was later used by the Swiss physician Paracelsus (1493-1541 CE). Considered a particularly symbolic tree with many folktales and magical myths surrounding it, hawthorn was the “sacred tree medicine” for the ancient Druids, and was said to house fairies, particularly when growing with oaks and ash trees. However, it was unlucky to bring the flowers into the house, probably because they would take the fairy folk with them. Hawthorn twigs and flowers were incorporated into the wedding wreath as a symbol of chastity and assuring prosperity at Greek weddings, and were also used to decorate alters worshiping the goddess of marriage, Hymen. In Ireland, couples seeking the hawthorn’s blessing danced around it during wedding ceremonies. The twigs were attached to newborns’ cradles to protect them from evil and were also used to decorate the maypole for the May Day of Beltane ceremony, which celebrated fertility and renewal. The flowering of this tree coincided with the first day of summer in May.
Green Hawthorn Delivers A Brilliant Show Of Berries
In the traditional medicine of Europe, all parts of the tree were valued and used: leaves, berries, flowers and the wood. The blossoms were used as a heart tonic and diuretic, and the berries and leaves were made into an astringent tea to soothe the throat. A tasty brandy liqueur was also made from the bright red, luscious berries. In addition, the wood was cut into smaller objects such as boxes and combs and burned as fuel producing wood fires that were extremely hot.
Hawthorn or ‘shanzha’ has been used in TCM since ancient times, but most historical uses were related to digestion until recently. It is considered energetically slightly warm, associated with the spleen, stomach and liver meridians, and reflects both sweet and sour flavors. Today it is also used to support the cardiovascular system, and in fact the berries are so popular in China that they are used to make hawthorn candies similar to the “fruit roll-ups” in the West.
Hawthorn is considered a superior cardiac tonic by many herbalists. However, the effects on the heart are many. Many also consider hawthorn to be transformative for the emotional or spiritual heart. Herbalist Matthew Becker suggests that hawthorn is especially helpful for women with “broken hearts,” i.e., for those “who feel wounded and hurt.” Often the flowers and leaves are made into flower essences to deal with these kinds of emotional problems. Hawthorn is considered a bit warm energetic and is both sour and sweet in taste.
Precautions Keep in mind that hawthorn berries sometimes develop a white film on the berry. This is natural sucrose that matures in the outer skin. We recommend that you consult a qualified physician before using any herbal products, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking any medications.
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Enter your email address below to request a new password. An email will be sent to the address below with a link to verify your email address. Written by Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA and SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD — Medically reviewed by Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE, Nutrition — Updated December 13, 2021
These nutrient-rich berries have a tart, tangy flavor and a mild sweetness. They range in color from yellow to dark red (
Hawthorn: Herb Of The Week · Commonwealth Holistic Herbalism
For hundreds of years, people have used hawthorn berry as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart problems, and high blood pressure. In fact, the berry has been an important part of traditional Chinese medicine since at least 659 AD (
Antioxidants help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals, which can harm your body when present in high concentrations.
Free radicals can come from certain foods. You can also get more of it as a result of exposure to environmental toxins such as air pollution and cigarette smoke (
Polyphenols are associated with numerous health benefits due to their antioxidant activity, including a lower risk of (
Guide: Managing Hawthorn Around Waterways
While initial research in animals and cells is promising, more studies in humans are needed to assess the effects of hawthorn berries on disease risk.
Summary Hawthorn berry contains plant polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that have been linked to numerous health benefits.
Research has found that chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (
In a study in mice with liver disease, hawthorn berry extract significantly reduced levels of inflammatory compounds, leading to reduced liver inflammation and injury (
The History, Mythology, And Offerings Of Hawthorn
In one study, researchers gave vitexin — a compound present in hawthorn leaves — to mice with respiratory diseases. This treatment reduced the production of molecules that cause inflammation and decreased the response of white blood cells to inflammation (
These promising results from animal and test-tube studies suggest that the supplement may provide anti-inflammatory benefits for humans. However, more research is needed.
Summary Hawthorn berry extract has demonstrated anti-inflammatory potential in test-tube and animal studies. Nevertheless, research in humans is needed.
In traditional Chinese medicine, hawthorn berry is one of the most recommended foods to help treat high blood pressure (
Hawthorn Berries Whole
Animal studies show that hawthorn can act as a vasodilator, meaning it can relax narrowed blood vessels and ultimately lower blood pressure (
A 10-week study looked at the effects of taking hawthorn extract in 36 people with mildly elevated blood pressure.
The researchers found that those who took 500 mg of the extract daily had reduced diastolic blood pressure — the lowest figure of any blood pressure reading (
In a 2006 study, researchers gave 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract every day for 16 weeks to 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. The people who took the extract experienced more blood pressure improvements than those in the placebo group (
Hawthorn Berries Crushed (crataegus Monogyna)
Still, more studies are needed to substantiate these findings. It is also important to note that using an extract is not the same as eating the berries.
Bottom Line: Some research suggests that hawthorn berries may lower blood pressure by helping blood vessels widen. However, further studies are needed.
Some studies indicate that hawthorn extract can improve blood cholesterol levels thanks to its flavonoid and pectin content. Pectin is a type of fiber involved in cholesterol metabolism (
Imbalanced levels of cholesterol in the blood — especially high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol — play a role in atherosclerosis, or the formation of plaque in your arteries (
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If plaque continues to build up, it can completely block a blood vessel, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
In one animal study, mice given two doses of hawthorn extract had lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as 28-47% lower triglyceride levels in the liver.