Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hawthorn for the heart and for the bees.

                                          Hawthorn berries

Is it a coincidence that hawthorn is harvested in Autumn? I don’t think so. Just as citrus fruits are winter fruits, full of vitamin C to help with colds and flu, hawthorn is there to help keep us warm and prevent chilblains.

Hawthorn is native to Europe but grows well here. It can be a shrub or a small tree, depending on how you prune it. It has very long, sharp thorns. It is deciduous and the leaves turn a beautiful translucent red and yellow in autumn. Even the carpet of leaves at its base is very pretty. In spring the blossoms attract bees, and to hear the loud hum of thousands of busy bees in the stillness of the morning is truly awesome.
Hawthorn is one of the oldest known medicinal plants used in European medicine - its beneficial actions on the heart were first reported by first century Greek herbalist Dioscorides and later by Swiss physician Paracelsus (1493–1541) (Weihmayr and Ernst, 1996).

Hawthorn is the ultimate nurturing herb for the heart. The flowers, berries and leaves are used each with its own particular nourishing or medicinal effect.
Hawthorn is widely regarded in Europe as a safe and effective treatment for the early stages of heart disease and is endorsed by Commission E- the branch of the German government that studies and approves herbal treatments. It is used to promote the health of the circulatory system and has been found useful in treating angina, high blood pressure, early congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia. It has been found to strengthen the heart and stabilise it against arrhythmias. It also strengthens the entire cardiovascular system, improving blood flow to all our organs thus improving our general health. It is my own opinion that using hawthorn can delay visual and hearing problems due to old age, as blood supply to these organs is well maintained.
Hawthorne should be used under the care of a phytotherapist for circulatory or heart problems.

I have just harvested a few kilograms of hawthorn from my garden, and am inspired to use it for myself. Apparently one can make a jelly from the berries to eat with cheese. There are quite a few recipes on the internet for this. What a wonderful herb!