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Herb Information
Name: Hawthorn
Biological Name: Crataegus oxyacantha
Other Names: Hawthorne, haw, May bush, May tree, May blossom, mayflower, quickset, thorn-apple tree, whitethorn, Hawthorn
Parts Used: Flowers, leaves, fruits
Active Compounds: The leaves, flowers, and berries of hawthorn contain a variety of bioflavonoid-like complexes that appear to be primarily responsible for the cardiac actions of the plant. Bioflavonoids found in Hawthorn include oligomeric procyanidins (OPCc), vitexin, quercetin, and hyperoside. The action of these compounds on the cardiovascular system has led to the development of leaf and flower extracts.

Dioscorides, a Greek Herbalist, used Hawthorn in the first century A.D. It went out fashion as a medicine until the 19th century, when an Irish physician included them in a secret remedy for heart disease. Years later, the medicine was found to be made from hawthorn berries, which are still prescribed in folk medicine for a variety of heart-related problems - among them high blood pressure and over-rapid heartbeat.

Remedies For:

Angina pectoris
Congestive heart failure
Hypertension (high blood pressure)

antispasmodic, cardiac, sedative, vasodilator.

This herb is very good when treating either high or low blood pressure by strengthening the action of the heart. Helps many blood pressure problems. The tea is good for nervous tension and sleeplessness Heart Disease: Hawthorn may help the heart in several ways. It may open (dilate) the coronary arteries, improving the heart's blood supply. It may increase the heart's pumping force. It may eliminate some types of heart-rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias). It may help limit the amount of cholesterol deposited on artery walls.

In Germany, three dozen hawthorn based heart medicines are available. It has become one of the most widely used heart remedies. It is prescribed by German physicians to normalize heart rhythm, reduce the likelihood and severity of angina attacks, and prevent cardiac complications in elderly patients with influenza and pneumonia. Please be advised that hawthorn takes some time to take effect. For short term solutions, conventional drugs such as nitroglycerin is still the choice. You should never try to treat heart diseases yourself. Take the advise from a physician.


The hawthorn grows as either a shrub or a tree in England and continental Europe. It is widely grown as a hedge plant. Its trunk or stem have hard wood, smooth and ash-gray bark, and thorny branches. The small, shiny leaves are dark green on top, light bluish green underneath, and have three irregularly toothed lobes. The white flowers have round petals and grow in terminal corymbs during May and June. The fruit or haw is a 2 to 3 seeded, scarlet on the outside, yellowish and pulpy on the inside.


Hawthorn extracts standardized for total bioflavonoid content (usually 2.2%) or oligomeric procyanidins (usually 18.75%) are often used. Many people take 80-300 mg of the herbal extract in capsules or tablets two to three times per day or a tincture of 4-5 ml three times daily. If traditional berry preparations are used, the recommendation is at least 4-5 grams per day. Hawthorn may take one to two months for maximum effect and should be considered a long term therapy.

German physicians prescribe 1 teaspoon of hawthorn tincture upon waking and before bed for periods of up to several weeks. To mask its bitter taste, mix with sugar, honey, or lemon, or mix it into an herbal beverage blend.

For an infusion, use 2 teaspoons of crushed leaves or fruits per cup of boiling water. Steep 20 minutes. Drink up to 2 cups per day.


Safe for long term use. There are no known interactions with prescription cardiac medications or other drugs. There are no known contraindications to its use during pregnancy or lactation. Large amounts of hawthorn may cause sedation and/or a significant drop in blood pressure, possibly resulting in faintness.

FDA lists hawthorn as a herb of "undefined safety".

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