Crataegus spp.
Category: Cardio Tincture
Part used: Berry, leaf, flower

Best known for the clusters of bright scarlet berries that spread across the tree in early autumn, Hawthorn is a specific remedy for the heart and circulation, that also finds use in stomach and digestive disorders. Like other red fruits and roots (e.g. Beetroot), Hawthorn berry contains large amounts of constituents – often red or purple in colour – known as OPC's (oligomeric proanthocyanidins) and flavonoids.

These have a relaxant and anti-inflammatory effect on the inner lining of the arteries, helping to keep them smooth, countering inflammation and preventing fatty deposits. Over the last 50 years or so, evidence has accumulated that Hawthorn, and in particular the flavonoids, act directly on the heart, helping to stabilise heart rate and rhythm, and to encouraging more efficient energy use by heart muscles1.

In fact, in Germany, extracts are used by the medical profession as a treatment for chronic heart failure. Research also suggests that Hawthorn (berry, leaves and flowers) works to normalise blood pressure - lowering high blood pressure only in those with high blood pressure, and raising it where low blood pressure is present2 (known as an amphoteric action).

These actions have not been established by large scale clinical trials, but they coincide with the experience of herbal practitioners and illustrate the fact that herbs, with their complex mix of constituents, work mainly to support the body back towards a higher state of health, rather than to override the body’s own physiological processes.

  1. Tassell MC et al. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Pharmacognosy reviews. 2010 Jan;4(7):32.
  2. Hempel B et al. Efficacy and safety of a herbal drug containing hawthorn berries and D-camphor in hypotension and orthostatic circulatory disorders/results of a retrospective epidemiologic cohort study. Arzneimittel-forschung. 2005 Jan 1;55(8):443-50.