Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) – Herb for the Heart
by Klaus Ferlow, HMH, HA

Life of a Plant

I would like to start the educational article with the explanation about the life of a plant.

Plants use a complex process called photosynthesis to extract energy from sunlight to create food. Studies on certain species revealed that they perform yet another feat – they calculate the optimum rate at which to absorb that food overnight.

By day, plants convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into starch and sugar. During the night, many species consume the starch stored during the day, thus avoiding starvation and maintaining plant productivity, including growth. Moreover, they process the stored starch at just the right rate, not too quickly and not too slowly, so that they use about 95 percent of it by dawn, when they start making more.

The findings were based on experiments on a plant of the mustard family called Barbados thaliana. Researchers found that this plant carefully rations its food reserves according to the length of the night, no matter whether 8, 12, or 16 hours remained until dawn. Evidently, the plant divides the amount of starch available by the length of time remaining until dawn, thus determining the optimal rate of consumption.

How do plants ascertain their starch reserves? How do they measure time? And what mechanism enables them to do math? Further research may shed light on these questions. Did the mathematical ability of plants come by evolution or was it designed?

If you want to learn more about this subject I recommend reading the book “The Secrets of Plants” a fascinating account of the physical, emotional, and spiritual relations between plants and man, by Peter Tompkins & Christopher Baird, Harper Perennial, 1973.

Benefits of Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata)

From ancient Greeks and Chinese to Native Americans and 19th century folk physicians, hawthorn has been almost universally regarded as a heart tonic.

Herbalists regard hawthorn as the most important of all cardiovascular remedies, with the protective action on the heart and its function because hawthorn flowers, leaves and fruit hold benefits for the heart. It is prescribed for a range of cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, angina (relieve chest pain), hardening of the arteries, insomnia, water retention, tissue swelling, skin inflammation, anemia, acne, angina pectoris, hypertension, irregular heartbeat, relieve shortness of breath, fatigue and tiredness in those suffering from congestive heart failure.

Research shows that it improves blood flow to the heart itself, ensuring that muscle cells are well oxygenated. Hawthorn further reducing buildup of fatty plaques in blood vessels, which can lead to arteriosclerosis.

Other benefits are: antispasmodic, sedative, dilator, good for heart muscle weakened by age, for inflammation of the heart muscle, for arteriosclerosis, and for nervous heart problems.
Some of hawthorn's active constituents have potent antioxidant activity, and these compounds may be responsible for the herb's cholesterol lowering effects, helping to prevent oxidation of LDL-cholesterol (so called bad-cholesterol) and decreasing both production and absorption of cholesterol.

Clinical studies have proved its medicinal ingredients (including proanthocyanidins and flaconoids such as quercetin, hyperoside, vitexin, vitexinrhammoside, rutin) improve the heart muscle's metabolism, allowing for better contractions and a more stable rhythmic beating of the heart. Furthermore dilate coronary blood vessels, permitting a larger flow of blood and oxygen, deter release of a substance called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) which has been identified as a cause of high blood pressure, and protect blood vessels, collagen, and other tissues from oxidizing damage. Better flow of oxygen-rich blood also helps facilitate breathing.

History of Hawthorn
It grows as shrub or tree with white or pink flowers and small berries are born in clusters in temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere, Europe, Asia and North America. In England it is widely grown as a hedge plant. It trunk or stems have hard wood, smooth and ash-gray bark, and thorny branches. The small, shiny leaves are dark green on top and have three irregularly toothed lobes. Flowers are blossom in May, June and the fruit has fleshy pone, scarlet on the outside, yellowish and pulpy on the inside.
How to use Hawthorn

Hawthorn is available in capsules, tablets, tinctures, standardized extract and also as dried leaves, flowers and berries.

Capsules or tablets: two to three 450milligram of a standardized supplement containing of certified potency hawthorn extract and a minimum of 1.8 milligrams of vitexins, or 2 to 6 teaspoons of fresh hawthorn fruit

Tea: steep 2 teaspoons hawthorn leaves and flowers in 12 ounces of water for 10 minutes, strain and drink 1 to 2 cups a day, can be sweeten with honey or stevia

Tincture: generally take 5ml twice daily

Extract: 1/8 – ¼ tablespoon, or 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of a leaf or fruit extract daily

Decoction: use 1 tsp. crushed fruit and ½ cup cold water, let stand for 7 – 8 hours, then bring quickly to boil and strain, take 1 to ½ cups a day, a mouthful at a time, can be sweeten with honey or stevia.

You can also eat the cooked fruit or make jelly or wine with it.

PRECAUTIONS
Hawthorn is very safe and well tolerated and is best used under the supervision of a professional health care practitioner for anyone who suffers from congestive heart failure for being treated for heart disease.
Words of Wisdom:
Herbs and plants are medical jewels gracing the woods and field and lanes, which few eyes see and few minds can understand.
- Carl on Linne, Swedish Botanist & Naturalist

References:
Rona, Zoltan, Gursche Siegfried, Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, Alive Publishing, 1997
Lust John, The Herb Book, Benedict Lust Publications, 1974
Bremness Lesly, The Complete Book of Herbs, Reader Digest, 1989
Castleman Michael, The Healing Herbs, Rodale Press, 1991
Duke, James A, The Green Pharmacy, Rodale Press, 2000
Frawley David, Vasant Lad, The Yoga of Herbs, Lotus Press, 1988

Klaus Ferlow, HMH, HA, author, innovator, lecturer, researcher, writer, founder of Ferlow Botanicals and NEEM RESEARCH, Honorary Master Herbalist, (HMH), Professional Herbal Advocate (HA), board member of the Health Action Network Society, member of the Neem Foundation, Bombay, India, National Health Federation, International Herb Association, United Plant Savers, co-author of the book “sevenstestodentalhealt”, author of the book “Neem: Nature's Healing Gift to Humanity”, published in February/March 2016, copyright @2016, all rights reserved, www.ferlowbotanicals.com, www.neemresearch (coming soon), klausferlow1@gmail.com

It is not our intention to make any specific claims. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care practitioner.


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