Hawthorn

Synonyms: May, Mayblossom, Whitethorn, Haw
Scientific Name: Crataegus monogyna Jacq. (monostylous hawthorn) and Crataegus laevigata Poir. (distylous hawthorn)
Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Habitat

Europe

Constituents

Flavonoids, oligomeric procyanidines, biogenic amines. The constitutens act synergistically. The action of all components together is greater than the sum of the individual actions.

Description

White in spring, red in autumn: hawthorn gives us pleasure throughout the year. From May to June these large shrubs or small trees are covered in a froth of white flowers arranged in small clusters or corymbs. The sharp thorns and small three- to five-lobed, almost diamond-shaped leaves are scarcely visible amongst the blossom. In autumn, from September onwards, the red, mealy fruits, yellow on the inside, decorate the tree which grows in scrub, hedges, on sunny slopes, in deciduous woods and pine woods.

A small, scarcely perceptible difference in the flower structure, distinguishes two different species of hawthorn: monostylous and distylous. The two species occur alongside each other and are intermingled.

Uses

Hawthorn is an important cardiac tonic. Because of its action in increasing blood flow in the coronary vessels it is used in various cardiovascular ailments and heart conditions associated with aging. The old, tired heart is invigorated, supported and cared for, degenerative symptoms in the heart muscle and sclerotic changes in the coronary vessels are considerably improved. Hawthorn also benefits the young heart under constant stress. It strengthens the overtaxed heart and calms the nervous heart – also preventively. Other conditions in which hawthorn is used are: congestive heart failure, rhythm disorders and supportive treatment after heart attack. It often restores balance, for example it has a stabilizing effect on both high blood pressure and low blood pressure. A great advantage of the treatment with hawthorn is that no side-effects have been reported even on prolonged use.

Interesting Facts

The scientific name "Crataegus“ is probably derived from the Greek krataios = hard, strong, referring to the hardness of the wood. The name Whitethorn is easily understood by anyone who has seen the tree in the spring when the white blossom exuberantly covers its branches. The names May and Mayblossom obviously come from the fact that the tree flowers in May. Use of the healing powers of hawthorn only began in the 14th century when it was used for the treatment of gout and bladder stones. In folk medicine the hawthorn’s powers were used in the treatment of teeth and warts. It was not until the 19th century that the cardiac strengthening action of hawthorn was discovered. And this was only coincidental. The butterflies being bred by a zoologist had become weak and puny and only regained their strength they were fed with hawthorn leaves.

The legends and tales spun around this tree with its unusual shapes go back much further. In many places it is said to have powers that protect against harm. Hawthorn branches were placed behind the hearth or hung from the kitchen beams to protect the house from being struck by lightening. It was believed that witches could be kept away if as many hawthorn branches as there were cows in the stables were nailed to the stable windows on Shrove Tuesday and the first of May. If milk wouldn’t turn to butter the witches held responsible for this were driven out by beating with hawthorn branches.

In many stories hawthorn is seen as a sign from God. For example, a hawthorn blossoming in winter was thought to indicate a holy place. Hawthorn is often found depicted in Gothic buildings – a sign of its role in religious belief in those days.

Probably one of the oldest hawthorn trees, which was destroyed by lightening in 1823, is the centre of a legend which goes back to the year 630. This tree, which stood near Klingenmuenster in the Rhine Palatinate, was given by farmers of the area to the legendary Merovingian King Dagobert I, as a hiding place when he had to flee from rebels. As a sign of gratitude, the king bequeathed the farmers a huge piece of forest. Since then the hawthorn was regarded as a symbol of the indivisibility and unity of this piece of land and was protected from harm or damage under threat of punishment. Its very presence was said to have healing effects, it was a place of assembly, and it was under a hawthorn tree that the peasants rallied to the “Bundschuh” in 1525, thus starting the Peasants’ War. With the death of the tree the community which had formed around it quarrelled and fell apart - as had been prophesied long before.

The hard hawthorn wood was used to make walking sticks and handles for tools. The fruits are a delicacy for birds and are also used for pig fattening. Roasted hawthorn seeds used to be used as coffee ersatz, the dried fruit flesh as flour additive.

The Plant at WALA

The harmonizing power of the hawthorn is evident in its form. Between a shrub and a tree, between pomiferous fruit and stone fruit, with advancing age it reins in the seemingly boundless growth of its youth. In this balance-creating character it is entirely a rose plant.

An hawthorn extract complete the composition of Dr. Hauschka Regenerating Intensive Treatment.

The leaves and fruits of the hawthorn are used in many WALA medicines for strengthening the heart, for example in Passiflora Nerve Tonic*, Adonis comp.*, Aurum valeriana Globuli velati*, Cactus comp.*, Crataegus/Cor comp.*, Scilla comp.*, Viscum/Crataegus*.

Prescribing Information

*Prescribing information for the preparations mentioned (the indications are derived from the anthroposophical understanding of man and nature):

Adonis comp., Globuli velati

Indications: Harmonisation of cardiovascular functions, particularly in patients with age-related weak heart and beginning congestive heart failure. Warning: This medicinal product contains sucrose.

Aurum Valeriana Globuli velati

Indications: Stimulation and harmonisation of the rhythmic system in neurovegetative dysregulation, functional heart complaints (including those of degenerative origin), nausea and vertigo. In the event of chest pain radiating into the arms, the upper abdomen or the neck, or shortness of breath examination by a doctor is essential. Warning: This medicinal product contains sucrose and lactose.

Cactus comp. II, Globuli velati

Indications: Stimulation and harmonisation of the life organisation in the rhythmic system, e.g. in functional cardiac dysrhythmias, angina, age-related heart weakness and after heart attack. Warning: This medicinal product contains sucrose and lactose.

Crataegus/Cor comp., Globuli velati

Indications: Harmonisation of the interaction between sensitivity and life organisation in the heart, e.g. in age-related weak heart, angina, after infarction, in functional heart symptoms, during and after overexertion, heart rhythm disorders mainly in the form of bradycardia (slow heart beat). Warning: This medicinal product contains sucrose and lactose.

Passiflora Nerventonikum (nerve tonic)

Indications: Stimulation of the life organisation and harmonisation of its interaction with the sensitivity organisation in conditions where there is nervous weakness or lack of vitality, e.g. sleep disturbances and states of restlessness or agitation. Warning: This medicinal product contains sucrose. Passiflora Nerventonikum contains gluten.

Scilla comp., Globuli velati

Indications: Harmonisation of the interaction between sensitivity organisation and life organisation in beginning weakness of the heart muscle (congestive heart failure) particularly in the elderly. Warning: This medicinal product contains sucrose.

For information on risks and side-effects please read the pack insert and ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Viscum/Crataegus, Globuli velati

Indications: Harmonisation of the rhythmic interaction between sensitivity and life organisation in the cardiovascular system, e.g. age-related heart weakness, hardening of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle (coronary sclerosis). Warning: This medicinal product contains sucrose.

For information on risks and side-effects please read the pack insert and ask your doctor or pharmacist.

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