Hawthorn and The Heart

It’s easy to identify the Hawthorn Tree by its uniquely shaped leaves.
The video below shows the hawthorn’s leaf.  I just love this video with the Dunnock bird singing under the cover of the hawthorn tree.  You can see a few white flowers beginning to open.

Hawthorn berries are small, red and round.  In Western Herbal Medicine, they are typically used to strengthen the heart.  Nibbling on them raw reveals a mild apple taste.

How to Gather and Dry Hawthorn Berries

It’s easy!
Hawthorn trees are found in parks, hedgerows, farms, graveyards, commons and forests.  Pretty much everywhere.  You don’t need a special tool just be careful of the thorns.

Hawthorn Berry and Leaf

Pick the berries off the tree using your hands in Autumn and place into your foraging container.  Any container will do, but to help with the drying process a paper bag or natural basket helps.  For ease of use, my little helper and I use plastic containers such as lunch boxes.

WARNING:  While outside gathering and enjoying the natural environment, other people may look at you strangely.  That’s ok.  Smile sweetly and continue.

Foraging Rules

Pick away from busy roads and land that has been treated with pesticides.  Remember to pick sparingly from each tree, leaving lots of berries for wildlife and other foragers that may follow you.

How to Dry Hawthorn Berries for Tea

When you have gathered your berries, take them home and transfer into a natural basket or drying tray and leave in the dark to dry.  If you only have a small amount of berries, stick them in a paper bag with handles in a dark area and hang on a hook to keep them off the floor.  This will provide good air circulation.  Dry them for several days then pop them into an airtight jar.  Check for moisture droplets every now and then.  If you detect even the tiniest bit of moisture you must repeat the drying process to avoid mould growth.  Here are some of my already dried berries

How to use Dried Hawthorn Berries

The simplest way is to make a decoction (a bit like a tea) – put a teaspoon of berries in a saucepan and cover with a cup of cold water and a saucepan lid.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Strain and enjoy your hawthorn tea.

Benefits of Hawthorn Berry for the Heart

Hawthorn is rich in flavonoids and oligomeric procyanidins.  When related to blood pressure, hawthorn is adaptogenic.  It can normalise low blood pressure and reduce high blood pressure.

In clinical trials it has been shown to reduce the workload for the heart.  It strengthens the heart contractions so it can pump more blood with fewer heartbeats. 

It improves heart rate variability.  Our heart rate (heart beat per minute) fluctuates according to inhalation and exhalation and variations in blood pressure.  As we age or if we’re affected by diabetes our heart rate variability decreases.  Hawthorn has been shown in clinical trials to improve heart rate variability which is connected to increased life expectancy.

In summary, hawthorn berries can help with heart failure, angina pectoris, high blood pressure, low blood pressure and arrhythmias.

Can Hawthorn Berry be Taken Long Term?

There is no restriction on the long term use of hawthorn.  If you are taking heart medications, consult a herbalist before taking hawthorn.

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