Herb of the Month: Hawthorne

While the midday sun clings to summer’s warmth, the sweater I reach for in the early morning chill speaks to a change in the seasons, and we begin to wade into autumn’s waters. As the days shorten and the Earth turns, we, too, continue our rotation on our energetic axes, turning inward and tending to the hearths found within.

While the days of berries and melon are waning, fall fruits are ripening and bursting forth with their own sweetness and medicine for the coming days. One plant whose berries ripen around this time of year, and can be deeply nourishing while nurturing our inner worlds, is Hawthorn.

Often found on the edges of farms and fields, Hawthorn, Crataegus spp., contains medicine in its leaves, flowers, and most notably at this time of year, in it’s colorful berries, ranging from bright, candy-apple red in the introduced Crataegus monogyna, to a deep purple in our native Crataegus douglasii. When one thinks of Hawthorn‘s medicine, one thinks of heart medicine, for both our physical hearts and for our energetic, emotional hearts.

For heart health, Hawthorn medicine can be useful for almost any circulatory condition, and it best when taken as a tonic, or over longer periods of time. Those with a family history of stroke or cardiovascular disease may benefit from taking Hawthorn daily. Hawthorn slows and strengthens the heart rate in cases of palpitations and arrhythmias, and helps bring balance to those with low or high blood pressure. The berries are high in flavonoids, found in other dark fruits such as cherries and blackberries, which strengthen capillaries, reducing inflammation, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

For what ails our hearts on an emotional, energetic level, Hawthorn provides soothing, nurturing medicine. For those with an anxious heart, those feeling lonely or overwhelmed, or for those working through the deep waters of grief, Hawthorn can be an excellent herbal ally. Hawthorn was once described to me by herbalist Missy Roh’s as “an herbal hug,” which I think sums up it’s uses for our emotional bodies quite well.

For targeting circulatory and heart health, try pairing Hawthorn with Rosemary, Yarrow or Linden. As a nervine, try combining it with calming Motherwort, sweet Rose or uplifting Borage.

Hawthorn is contraindicated for those on beta blockers or blood pressure medication. Speak with professional herbalist or health care provider before taking Hawthorn with prescription drugs.

If you find yourself in need of an “herbal hug,” you can find Hawthorn medicine in several blends and products here at The Herb Shoppe:

Orbits of the Heart Tea Blend, Tincture and Honey

Winter Solstice Tea Blend

Sacred Smoke Blend

Open Heart Salve

Ceremonial Mist – Glowing Heart

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