Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • February 2018
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Hawthorn — Crataegus oxyacanthoides

In this month when we tend to think of things related to our hearts, let’s talk about hawthorn (crataegus oxyacanthoides), an herb that can be your heart’s best friend; specifically, let’s talk about hawthorn berries. Hawthorn berries are known as a heart tonic, or nutritive heart herb, and have been used for centuries and across many traditions, for circulatory system health. The hawthorn berries contain bioflavonoids, antioxidants and procyanidins, which help nourish and tone the heart.

These active ingredients act by normalizing the heart — either by slowing its activity, if needed, or by stimulating it — whatever the heart needs, it tries to provide. Hawthorn dilates arteries and veins, which allow for better blood flow. It also strengthens the heart muscle, which helps to regulate and normalize blood pressure. It is also able to strengthen the capillaries in the venous system, which helps those who bruise easily.

Hawthorn is a gentle treatment, and over time can help to support those with congestive heart failure or heart palpitations, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and angina pectoris. The gentle nature of hawthorn berries generally allows for the ingestion of hawthorn, even if you are using cardiac medications*. Hawthorn is a food herb, meaning it can be ingested in a wider variety of mediums than most herbs. In addition to tea and tincture, hawthorn berries are used to make honey, jam, syrup, cordials, elixirs and vinegar. Hawthorn-infused honey is a beautiful rose color, with a yummy, fruity flavor.

Making a Hawthorn Berry Infusion by steeping two teaspoonfuls of hawthorn berries in boiling water for 20 minutes, three times daily, over a long period of time can have beneficial effects. Herbs do not work “overnight” in most cases, but require prolonged use to gently tune the body. Try daily Hawthorn Berry Infusion for several months to determine if you find its effects positive.

If you aren’t keen on tea, then try adding a teaspoon or so of this mixture to your hot or cold cereal, adding to a smoothie, stir into your yogurt, or top your fresh fruit:

Hawthorn Berry Infusion

Recipe from Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

  • 2 tablespoons hawthorn berry powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon ground ginger root
  • 1/8 tablespoon cardamom powder
  • Mix and store in a glass jar.

*Of course, always talk with your health care provider before using any herbs or essential oils — as there are always exceptions to the rule, and some medications can be affected (either by decreasing or increasing their effectiveness) when combined with herbs or essential oils. The information provided here is not meant to substitute for advice obtained from your health care provider. The statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration, although research studies have been conducted that support these statements. 

References: “Medicinal herbs: A beginner’s Guide.” North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. 2012. R. Gladstar.

“Holistic Herbal: A safe and practical guide to making and using herbal remedies.” London, UK: Thorsons. D. 1990. D. Hoffman.

Recipe from Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal herbs: A beginner’s guide.

T. Heather Herdman, RN, PhD

T. Heather Herdman, RN, PhD is co-owner of Sweet Willow Naturals in Green Bay, where we have over 140 organic herbs and 70 organic spices available for you to craft your own products, or to simply enjoy as tea. Our store focuses on education and we have many classes to help you learn about herbs, aromatherapy, nutrition, and self-care – focusing on safe information backed up by research and experience. We also offer wellness coaching and massage – stop in today! For more information, visit or email [email protected]

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