On Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be the perfect time to share a herb with a heart focus, and there’s no better herb for the heart than Crategus. Commonly known as Hawthorn or the May Tree, the first we see of it is its beautiful white blossoms in May (or, more recently, April). Later in the year, herbalists gather the leaves and berries for culinary and herbal use.
Native to Europe and this popular hedging shrub has multiple uses. The fruits are edible but not tempting enough to eat on their own, so they are often used in jelly, sauces, pies and beverages.
Crategus rules supreme as an all-round heart tonic. 1 While the entire plant can be used therapeutically, the berries have been used in healthcare as far back as the 15th century. Flavanoids found in Crategus improve the circulation of the heart and extremities.
Glycosides in the plant also improve heart tone and strength of contractions to help the heart work more efficiently. It is an all-round tonic for heart function and is taken as a preventative for heart disease and treatment of cardiac symptoms. As a herbal extract, it can be taken safely on a long term basis, (i.e. for years). 2
Treatment of anxiety, stress and associated insomnia are well documented, as well as aiding digestion, especially where there is a nervous element, because Crategus is a nerve tonic as well.
Crategus Oxyacantha (Hawthorn berries) is a homeopathic remedy made from minimal amounts of a herbal extract of berries, give it a slightly different therapeutic range. It still reins supreme as a heart tonic, but has a specific focus on high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and weakness in the heart function. It is useful in insomnia, particularly if the person is irritable with cardiac symptoms. 3
While I do not suggest you rush out and buy the herbal remedy, I wanted to share with you the broad and action of the remedy that can be used to help manage your health differently as opposed to relying on pharmaceutical drugs that all have side effects.
NB: Always use herbs and homeopathy under the guidance of a professional herbalist or homeopath.
Medical research has identified Crategus to be effective as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, to help improve the structure of the heart and optimise function, prevention of platelet aggregation (i.e. beneficial to prevent stroke, thrombus and arterial problems), improving dilation of blood vessels in heart to enable circulation through the heart, and maintaining endothelium (a tissue present in the heart) integrity to aid function.
Where I believe the pharmaceutical industry gets it wrong is by focussing on what it considers to be the active component of the plant, this knowledge deriving from ancient medicine. The problem with this approach is that traditional therapists and herbalists know it is the symbiotic interaction of the whole plant that brings the full therapeutic effect as a tonic, rendering the herbal remedy less toxic in terms of side effects.
But you can’t patent (i.e. commercialise) natural remedies, hence the myopic quest to isolate every active component and synthesise its effect in a lab to mass produce the drug for everyone (vs individuality) = a commercially profitable model
Here’s a reminder from the very wise Hippocrates, ‘…foolish the doctor who despises and negates the knowledge acquired by the ancients.’
Crategus is sleep-friendly too!
The high Vitamin C and antioxidant content of Crategus, 4 as well as its central nervous system relaxant properties make Crategus a sleep friendly herb, especially to those with anxiety and stress. 5 Vitamin C is also a precursor of the production of natural antidepressant neurotransmitters (e.g. Serotonin) so is an important herb to improve and maintain mental health.
If you’ve been following me, you’ll know about my holy trinity: gut health = sleep = immunity. Added to that, the bidirectional link between sleep and mental health, anything that helps you sleep will help your mental health and wellbeing generally.
How to get your Crategus fix
Herbal teas are a safe and pleasant way to introduce Crategus into your health routine. One or two cups daily would be great.
You can get the benefits of a more material dose by using Crategus supplements. Check out the excellent Natural Dispensary – an online shop packed full with an impressive range of branded natural health products and supplements. Place your order through me and I’ll send you a link through which you can pay and get delivery direct to your door. As a thank you from me, you’ll receive 15% off RRP.
Better still, contact me for individualised, professional homeopathic help to optimise your health and wellbeing.
Caution: if you are on any medication, please consult your local herbalist for expert advice. Some herbal remedies can interact with medication (because they are effective!) Most proprietary herbal supplements and teas are very low dose but it is recommended that you check before using herbs.
Contact me today and begin your journey to natural sleep.
Invest in your rest.
Because sleep matters.
1 Hoffman, David, 1990: ‘Holistic Herbal’; Thorsons; ISBN-13 978-0-00-714541-6
2 Hobbs, Christopher PhD, herbalist, botanist, mycologist, researcher, author – Hawthorn: For the Heart – article
3 Murphy, R ND, 2000: ‘Homeopathic Remedy Guide, Second Edition’; H.A.N.A. Press; ISBN: 0-9635764-0-2