The Hawthorn Tree
Hawthorn (crataegus oxycantha) is a common deciduous tree or shrub growing primarily in North America, Europe, and western Asia. A member of the family Rosaceae, hawthorn's thorny branches sport beautiful pink or white flowers in the spring (hawthorn is also called "mayflower" or "maybush") which develop into small apple-like fruit that ripens bright red in the fall.
The hawthorn tree can reach a height of 30 feet, and lives to a great age. Because of its rapid growth, it is useful as a hedge for dividing and enclosing properties.
The hard wood of the hawthorn has been valued for its lovely finish when made into objects, and for its high temperatures when burned as firewood.
History and Legends
As a cardiac tonic, hawthorn has been valued since as early as the first century A.D., when the Greek herbalist Dioscorides used and wrote about its healthful properties.
The ancient Romans and Greeks viewed hawthorn as a symbol of love and marriage. The Romans also believed hawthorn to be a charm to ward off evil spirits.
Hawthorn has been held sacred because of a legend that the crown of thorns worn by Jesus was made from its branches.
Hawthorn is a Food
Hawthorn berries can be used in cooking much like other tree fruits (it smells like apples during the extracting process). I met a pharmacist who makes hawthorn berry pie. (She told me that no one has had any side effects yet from eating her pie!) A 61-year-old man told me his wife's grandparents raised hawthorn trees on their farm. They made hawthorn berry jelly and sold it every fall for many, many years.
Hawthorn is a Rich Source of Nutrients
In addition to bioflavinoids, hawthorn contains cardiotonic amines, polyphenols, and is a source of Vitamin C, the B vitamins, and many other nutrients. For a complete list (and explanation!) of the constituents of hawthorn, click here. (A new window will open. To return to the SRC Hawthorn Berry Syrup pages, simply close that window.)
Hawthorn is a Heart Tonic
Hawthorn berries have been known as a natural heart tonic for centuries and has even been called "food for the heart." Hawthorn remains one of the the more popularly used botanical medicines for heart conditions throughout Europe, particularly in Germany and Switzerland. European studies have demonstrated that use of hawthorn can support overall heart health by
- relaxing and dilating arteries
- increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to and from the heart
- supporting healthy circulation
- increasing endurance
- maintaining healthy blood pressure
- maintaining healthy blood vessels
Read this article from The August 2000 Issue of Nutrition Science News about Hawthorn studies. (A new window will open. To return to the SRC Hawthorn Berry Syrup pages, simply close that window.)
The effects of hawthorn as a heart tonic are gentle and best achieved over time. Hawthorn has been shown to be safe for long-term use, with no toxic side effects and with a few exceptions no interactions with prescriptions drugs.
Hawthorn has also been known to relieve occasional problems with digestion, sleeplessness due to nervous tension, and sore throats. (Note: severe or persistent digestive problems, sleeplessness or sore throats may be a sign of a serious health problem. Consult your health professional.)
SRC Hawthorn Berry Syrup is a concentrated fluid extract made from fresh hawthorn berries harvested from wild domestic hawthorn trees. Many competitive hawthorn products are made from dried imported berries and sold in capsules. (Most herbalists prefer fluid extract products, as the body assimilates them more quickly.)
SRC only makes one nutritional supplement product and we make it very well.
Hawthorn berries and this information have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are suffering from any illness or medical complaint, always first seek the advice of your health professional.