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Crataegus oxycanthiodesCrataegus oxycanthoides/ C. monogyna (Rosaceae)

HAWTHORN, MAY, WHITETHORN

 

Given by herbalists, both East and West, the flowers, leaves and fruit form one of the most useful heart remedies, and improve the heart's action and circulation.

 

Hawthorn flowers are reputed to have magical properties, such as causing a death in the family if they are taken into the home, which is why superstitious people will not have them inside. The plant is also said to have been the source of Christ's crown of thorns. It is one of the most useful herbal heart remedies. Native to Europe, north Africa and western Asia, this shrub or small tree grows to 10 m (30 ft) and has deeply lobed, dark-green leaves. Clusters of white flowers appear from early to midsummer, followed by oval red berries in the autumn.

 

PARTS USED

Flowers, leaves, fruit.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Flavonoids, including rutin, quercitin, and vitexin; procyanidine; phenolic acids; trimethylamine; ascorbic acid; tannins.

 

ACTIONS

Dilates the blood vessels of the heart and outlying parts of the body; improves the heart's pumping action; controls both high and low blood pressure; slows down a fast heart beat.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Given to improve blood flow to the heart and the efficiency of the heart's pumping action in heart failure, to improve local circulation and intermittent claudication (pain in the calves caused by spasm in the blood vessels supplying the leg muscles), for Raynaud's disease, to lower high blood pressure, and for angina. Ayurvedic medicine prescribes it for similar purposes. Chinese physicians use it for indigestion, painful periods, and diarrhoea.

 

PREPARATIONS

Infusion, tincture.

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