Hawthorn is treasured as a nutritive food source and a classic heart remedy. The tree from which it is harvested can grow up to 30 feet tall, is considered sacred in Celtic and Wiccan traditions, and has long been a favorite choice for hedges and protective living fences. Haw is in fact an old word for “hedge.” Hawthorns provide a safe nest and reliable food for countless birds, insects, and small mammals. In early May, when the tree’s gentle white flowers appear, they are cheerfully celebrated as a symbol that spring has indeed arrived and that sweet warmth has been victorious over the fierce cold of winter! ‘Ne’er cast a cloot til Mey’s oot,’ was an old English rhyme warning us to not cast our cloot (clothes) until May has come, and the Hawthorn tree has blossomed.
Ahhh, the contentment that Hawthorn brings! This is truly a nurturing, guardian plant and the berries are of course no different. They fully ripen in October and look like a teeny tiny crab apple. High concentrations of flavonoids and antioxidants account for their great benefit to healthy venous system integrity and circulation. So if you have cold hands and feet, try eating Hawthorn berries. With greater integrity, there can be more plasticity, or flexibility, within the veins, arteries and capillaries, so blood can flow freely as needed.*
Crataegus is the Latin genus applied to Hawthorn and there are many species that are native to temperate zones across North America, Europe, and Asia. In Cherokee, Ojibwa, Thompsonian, and Chinese medicine traditions, the plant is noted as a common stomach remedy. Still today in China, Hawthorn berries are recommended for resolving abdominal distention and pain associated with food stagnation.
Many western herbalists like to use the berry with the tree’s leaf and flower. The trifecta is a complete formula for soothing the strain of major shock and trauma or even the consequences of the daily grind on our emotional and physiological being. While sipping the tea, tincture, or syrup you can imagine the sweet protection of a hawthorn tree offering you its refuge.
*Scientific evidence suggests that Hawthorn benefits healthy cardiac function. With that in mind, please access professional medical guidance before you combine Hawthorn with blood pressure or heart medications. Hawthorn is also contraindicated during the first trimester of pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Written by Christina Bertelli, Certified Clinical Herbalist
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.