I heart you Hawthorn
Hawthorn otherwise known as Crateagus monogyna, is a herb traditionally used to assist in heart health. In Western herbal medicine, hawthorn is the principle herb used to support vascular health, cardiac blood flow and circulation, and maintaining healthy heart muscle function. It is an overall cardio tonic, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
Got to love history
Hawthorn has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and European herbal medicine. Documented use of hawthorn, dates way back to 659AD, where it was depicted in Tang Ben Cao, the world’s first official TCM pharmacopeia. In Europe, the use of hawthorn can be traced back to the time of Dioscorides and Paracelsus. It has been suggested they praised hawthorn for its heart-strengthening properties.
Adoration across the continents
It is interesting how different cultures incorporate medicinal herbs into their modalities. For example in TCM hawthorn fruit is used for stimulating digestion and enhancing gut function as well as improving blood circulation and removing blood stasis. In Europe, the fruiting body, leaves and flowers or a combination of the 3 have been traditionally used as an astringent, hypotensive, diuretic, cardio tonic and antispasmodic.
In both Europe and China, hawthorn fruit is not only consumed for its medicinal benefits but also as part of their regular diets, either in jam, jellies, drinks, canned fruit or wine.
Affection for Western herbal medicine
Since the early 1800’s, Western herbal medicine has followed suit with other continents and has adopted hawthorn for its use in heart health. According to Mills & Bone (2013) hawthorn is summarised as a mild cardiotonic, cardioprotective, antioxidant, collagen stabilising, mild astringent, mild hypotensive.
Hawthorn may assist and support;
- Enhancing cardiac blood flow.
- The maintenance of healthy peripheral circulation.
- The maintenance of healthy arterial and vascular health.
- General wellbeing and overall physical stamina.
- Vitality and alleviate fatigue and feelings of mild anxiety.
- Cardiovascular health.
- The maintenance of a healthy heart muscle function.
So how does this loving little plant care for our hearts? Hawthorn contains a high amount of oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs) and flavonoids. It is these constituents that are said to play a role in its therapeutic effects.
OPC’s are a type of tannin which contain catechins and or epicatichins. They are high in antioxidants and have an astringent effect in the body. Astringents have the ability to precipitate proteins, which provide a protective barrier in exposed tissues or mucus membranes.
Flavonoids are abundant within the plant kingdom, hundreds have been identified. They are the most common plant pigments next to chlorophyll and carotenoids. Vitexin and isovitexin are flavonoids present in hawthorn. It has been suggested that these components show a range of pharmacological activity including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive in healthy individuals.
Yearning for loving
As we all know taking care of our hearts is important. Our hearts do a lot of work for us so we should give a little lovin’ back. Hawthorn loves you, so does healthy eating, active living and surrounding yourself with heartfelt support.
* Always consult with your physician prior to consuming hawthorn. If symptoms persist seek medical advice.
Bone, K 2007, The Ultimate Herbal Compendium, Phtyotherapy Press, Australia
Bone, K, Mills, S 2013, Ed 2, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, Churchill Livingstone, USA
Braun, L, Cohen, M 2015, Ed 4, Herbs & Natural Supplements an Evidence Based Guide, Churchill Livingstone, China
Chang, Q, Zuo, Z, Harrison, Chow, MSS 2002, ‘Hawthorn’, Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Vol. 42, Pp. 605-612, Viewed 8 march 2018, <http://ebscohost.com>
He, M, Min, JW, Kong, WL, He, XH, Li, JX, Peng, BW 2016, ‘A review on the pharmacological effects of vitexin and isovitexin’, Filoterapia, Vol. 115, Pp. 74-85, Viewed 8 March 2018, http://www.sciencedirect-com
Pengelly, A 2004, Ed2, The Constituents of Medicinal Plants, CABI, UK