Hawthorn berry benefits: A Greek shepherd once asked his neighbor how he managed to raise such robust, agile, and healthy goats. The shepherd wanted to know because summer in the Mediterranean ended, and food for livestock was scarce. The dry and rocky fields do not produce much food for mammals at that time of the year.
The neighbor told the shepherd about a plant with spiky shrubs and red berries and told him to feed them to his goats. A few days later, the shepherd noticed a significant difference. The goats became stronger than ever before. They never seemed to get tired while climbing the slopes during the heat of the Greek summer.
Perhaps this shepherd’s experience was known by Dioscorides, an acute observer, brilliant botanical, and outstanding physician, who recommended this plant to give strength to the body and heal several afflictions. Maybe its scientific name Crataegus arises from such an episode since, according to Greek, it means “strong goats.”
Hawthorn berry benefits have already been widely known. However, the experimental knowledge, which was based upon its effects on goats, could not be scientifically proven until the 19th century. Jennings and other American physicians of that time studied the cardiotonic properties of hawthorn.
Currently, hawthorn berry benefits are well recognized. It is considered to be a medicinal herb and is a part of many phytotherapeutic preparations.
Hawthorn Berry Benefits: Preparation and Use
Thanks to hawthorn berry benefits, it is among the most effective vegetal remedies for treating tachycardia, high blood pressure, and other dysfunctions with a nervous cause.
- Infusion with 60 g of flowers (some four tablespoons) per liter of water. Fresh flowers are more effective than dried ones. Drink three or four cups daily.
- Fresh fruits: Though with a lower concentration of active components, they are also useful, and a handful could be eaten three times a day.
- Dry extract: The recommended dose varies from 0.5 to 1 g, three times a day.
- Synonyms: May bush, May tree, quickset, thorn-apple tree, whitethorn
- French: Aubepine, epiniere
- Spanish: Espino blanco, Espino albar
- Habitat: Common in all forests of Europe and naturalized in America
- Description: Spiky shrub of the Rosaceae family, growing from two to four meters high. Deciduous, three or five-lobulated leaves; white, aromatic flowers; red berries
- Parts used: The flowers and the fruits
Hawthorn Berry Benefits: Properties and Indications
The many hawthorn benefits come from its flowers, but also its fruits. The plant contains diverse flavonic glycosides, chemically polyphenols, to which it owes its therapeutic action on the heart and the circulatory system. Other beneficial compounds include triterpenic derivatives and several biogenic amines (trimethylamine, choline, tyramine, etc.), enhancing its cardiotonic effect.
Cardiotonic: This is a property attributed mainly to flavonoids, which prevent ATPase, an enzyme that catalyzes the splitting of ATP, the substance that serves as a source of energy for cells, including those of the heart muscle. When impeding ATP’s destruction, cells have more energy; thus, there is an increase in the heart rate’s contractile strength. Hawthorn berry benefits include the following:
Other Hawthorn Species
The Crataegus oxyacantha L. is a hawthorn species that coexists with the Crataegus monogyna L., the components of both species being practically similar. The difference is that the berries of the oxyacantha have two or three seeds, while those of the monogyna only have one.
Warning: In high doses (12 to 15 times more than recommended) may produce bradycardia (slowing of the heartbeat rate) and respiratory depression. With the recommended doses, there are no undesirable side effects.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 219,220. Print.