Hawthorn for the Heart
ith Valentine’s Day around the proverbial corner, we have matters of the heart on our minds. The holiday, which has origins in the fertility focused Roman festival of Lupercalia and is thought to have become romantically focused around the 14th century. The holiday is one we love to interpret in myriad ways, and the same goes for heart health! Drawing inspiration from the holiday, which focuses on matters of the emotional and “romantic” heart, it’s also a great time to also examine the health of your physical, beating heart. Many traditions locate the “energetic” heart center, such as the heart chakra, in a similar area to the physical organ. As such, “heart health” can be interpreted in many ways. Enter hawthorn, a magical herb for healing the heart and so much more.
What is hawthorn?
Hawthorn is a plant whose berries are highly nutritious. It’s been used as an herbal remedy for centuries and figured prominently in the traditions of Chinese medicine. It’s typically used to treat issues with the heart and high blood pressure, but also has been linked to helping with digestive problems.
The heart-healthy benefits of hawthorn
Heart diseases remain one of the most common causes of premature death in the western world. Mighty hawthorn has been used to treat heart diseases and the health of blood vessels including irregular heartbeat, congestive heart failure, and chest pain. (As always, see your doctor if you’re having health and heart issues!). Hawthorn is also used to treat both low blood pressure and high blood pressure, as it can help regulate your system and bring things into normal working order. Mighty hawthorn also helps with atherosclerosis and high cholesterol.
Many who use herbs often feel a positive emotional change upon consumption, and hawthorn is known to be a supportive herb for a “ broken heart.” One of our favorite bulk herb companies, Mountain Rose Herbs, shared this beautiful blog in January with wonderful herbal recipes, including hawthorn, for helping a broken heart.
Hawthorn for digestion and more
Hawthorn’s benefits don’t stop at the heart! Many utilize this diverse plant for myriad digestive issues, including indigestion, diarrhea, general stomach discomfort, and more. It is also used to reduce anxiety, as a sedative, to increase urine output, and for menstrual problems. Hawthorn can also be used to treat tapeworms and other intestinal infections. It also has immune-boosting antioxidants.
It doesn’t stop there. Some herbalists suggest applying hawthorn to the skin as a remedy for ulcers, sores, and boils. You may even see hawthorn as an ingredient in some wines and jams.
How does it work?
Hawthorn helps regulate the heart’s basic functioning, improving the amount of blood the heart pumps during contractions. It helps widen the blood vessels and with the transmission of nerve signals.
Some research says that its blood pressure-lowering benefits are because it helps relax the blood vessels, thanks to a component in hawthorn called proanthocyanidin.
In addition to keeping your heart functioning well, hawthorn can lower cholesterol. Research shows that hawthorn helps keep LDL, or “bad cholesterol” and triglycerides at bay.
If you’re seeking additional support for blood pressure and cholesterol, we also recommend looking to hibiscus, magnesium, grape seed extract, COQ10, plant sterols, red rice yeast, policosanol (latter three for cholesterol). We’ll dive deeper into this in another post!
We carry several hawthorn supplements in-store at Rebecca’s. We offer hawthorn in many forms: tinctures, capsules, bulk or in blends for heart health. As always, come see us to shop and ask any questions!