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Hawthorn

Crataegus spp.

Parts used medicinally: flowers, leaves and berries

Hawthorn is THE herb for heart health. It is used as a general tonic for protecting the heart and keeping it healthy, hence it's traditional use with the older population. It is also used by herbalists to help with hypertension and prevention of heart diseases. The berries are a rich source of antioxidants.

You only have to see one tall hawthorn bush that has been allowed to grow to its natural height to understand the other name 'Queen of the May'. Also known as the Mayflower in Britain as this is the month when this staple of the hedgerows bursts into bloom. She stands tall and her blossoms are creamy white and pink covering every single branch. Truly breath-taking and for those of us living around her, a sure sign that spring has arrived. 
   
Both the flowering tops and the autumn berries of the hawthorn have been used for millennia as part of our traditional medicine in Europe and Asia. 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Hawthorn is a member of the rose family. 
  • Because of the long, sharp thorns, hawthorn has been used since Anglo-Saxon times as a living hedge to keep livestock from escaping. This is the basis of the hedgerows we know today which are common throughout Britain. 
  • Known as 'bread and cheese' the young leaves can be eaten to curb hunger. 
  • The flowering tops, picked fresh from the hedge make a delicious, delicately flavoured infusion when added to a mug of hot water.

HAWTHORN & ME

  • Hawthorn brandy is a traditional tonic taken like a liqueur to support heart health. Fill a kilner jar with 1/3 hawthorn berries, squashed under the flat blade of a knife, 1/3 dark sugar (muscovado is best) and then pour in a bottle of brandy up to the brim. Stir every day for a week, every week for a month and then leave in a dark cupboard for as long as you can (at least 2 months). Strain and bottle. The resulting tonic is best enjoyed neat on a winter's evening. 
  • Hawthorn berries make a great addition to chutneys or pulped down to make a sweet / savoury jelly that tastes great with cheese. 

If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies.

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