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Hawthorn - protecting your heart

Hawthorn berries, flowers and leaves all work to look after and protect your heart.

It is a herb that is indicated for those that their hearts have been overworked and they are needing some extra love and support.

Hawthorn is part of the rose family (Rosaceae) and rose has an affinity for the heart as much as hawthorn does.


Let's take a deeper look at Hawthorn!


Hawthorn has many medicinal strains that are used including:

Crataegus oxycantha, Crataegus laevigata, Crataegus monogyna and in TCM Crataegus sinaica


Hawthorn is the herb that helps to nourish and restore the heart. This nourishing quality is indicated by the sweetness of the herb when you taste it.

You do not always know when your heart is struggling or overwhelmed and the main indication is your blood pressure. Having an elevated blood pressure indicates that the rate at which the blood is being pushed through the arteries is with a force, which can long term lead to damage to the walls of the arteries.

Blood pressure is influenced by a few factors, including what we eat and drink along with the level of stress we are coping with.

Hawthorn helps to reduce hypertension through vasodilation (relaxation and widening of the arteries), which allows the blood to flow freely and reduces pressure on the heart. Through this mechanism, Hawthorn is able to increase oxygen flow pressure at which flood flows to the heart which may help with regulating the heartbeat.


Hawthorn has constituents known as anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins that help to look after your capillaries. This can be important for a variety of heart health related conditions such as varicose veins, eye health and diabetes. Hawthorns ability to nourish capillaries may help with swollen ankles from water retention related to heart and kidney health.


Hawthorn may help with reducing overall cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia). Cholesterol is a fat that our body naturally produces and it is needed for the production of some of our steroidal hormones, including your stress hormones. This can mean long term stress can increase cholesterol levels and can increase the changes of plaque deposits in the arteries. So you can see why stress management in all its forms is very important to the health of your heart. It also shows why your weight is not always an indicator of your cholesterol levels.

There are those that naturally manufacture more cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia) as well as the cholesterol that are ingested from the diet and other lifestyle factors.

Hawthorn may help with the prevention of atherosclerosis - which is where cholesterol is deposited into the bodies arterial walls of blood vessels, forming plaques. It is the plaques that when opened (this usually happens when the blood is being pumped through the arteries forcefully and will create a tear in the plaque lining) it is able to then float around the blood vessel and can potentially create a blockage and can lead to a heart attack.

Hawthorn has been shown to help with how quickly the liver will process the LDL (low density lipoproteins and will clog up the arteries) portion of cholesterol into HDL (high density lipoproteins and will have a protective effect on the arteries). There are a few different species that are used medicinally and Crataegus laevigata has been shown to help the liver to synthesize a blend of cholesterol and bile which then enters your intestines and is able to then leave your body.


Your heart is your center, your ability to love and connect with yourself and your life around you. It is how you are able to processes your joys as well as your sadness. Your blood is seen as your life force and how you are able to circulate joy and nourishment through your body and your arteries, with your capillaries and veins being what transports your life force throughout your body.


Hawthorn has collagen stabilizing qualities that may of benefit for those with arthritis, fractures and osteoporosis. Your bones and connective tissues are your body's structure and they are linked to your first or base chakra. Asi is your blood. Using Hawthorn may help you find grounding and stability within your base chakra while linking you with your heart chakra where it is able to blend the mundane with the more spiritual aspects of life.


Hawthorn is a wonderful herb for menopausal women. She may get relief from heart palpitations and hot flashes, while hawthorn is providing additional nourishment and support for the heart and joints as oestrogen levels and other hormones adjust while her reproductive system is shifting from mother to crone energy.


Many times when we have suffered from an emotional experience or emotional hurt or trauma we can feel it within our heart and our heart chakra. Many who experience a heart attack may have also had a broken heart or cope with a lot of emotional pain, or they may not have been able to express their emotions well which has caused a backlog.

So when you are working with your heart chakra you may find that having Hawthorn as a herbal ally helpful.


CONTRA INDICATIONS & CATUIONS:

  • Digoxin and other cardiac glycosides. These medications are used to treat an abnormal heart rhythm - arrhythmias. Cardiac glycosides where derived from digitalis found in the foxglove plant. Hawthorn when used with Digoxin increase the effects as both can have a similar action.

  • Hypotensive drugs as they have a similar effect.


Hawthorn berries can be had as a tea, which you may find, has a laxative effect.

Hawthorn can additionally be had as a tincture and tonic or taken as a tablet or capsule.




Please ensure that you talk with your doctor or other qualified health professional when using Hawthorn to treat any diagnosed cardiovascular conditions.



References


Balch, P. (2002) Prescription for Herbal Healing, New York; Penguin Putnam Inc.

Bone, K. (2002) A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs, St Louis Missouri; Churchill Livingstone

Bone, K. (2007) The Ultimate Herbal Compendium, Warwick Queensland; Phytotherapy Press

Holmes, P. (2006) The Energetics of Western Herbs, Vol.1, 4th edition, Boulder Colorado; Snow Lotus Press

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