Crataegus monogyna & Crataegus oxyacantha
Part Used: Dried spring leaf & flower, & autumn berry
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna/Crataegu oxyacantha) grows as either a shrub or a tree in England and continental Europe. It is widely grown as a hedge plant. Its trunk or stem have hard wood, smooth and ash-gray bark, and thorny branches. Hawthorn is the fruit, or the flowers and leaves combined, of several of the more than 100 species of Crataegus, a genus of the rose family found in North America, Europe, and east Asia. Hawthorn berries have been used since the Middle Ages to support the heart and normalize cardiovascular functions. Today, Hawthorn berries are one of the most valuable medicinal herbs used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and circulatory disorders. In traditional Asian medicine as well as European herbal traditions, Hawthorn has been widely used in long term prescriptions for hypertension related to cardiac weakness, arteriosclerosis, and angina pectoris. The leaves, flowers, and berries of Hawthorn contain a variety of bioflavonoid-like complexes that appear to be primarily responsible for the cardiac actions of the plant. The most active bioflavonoids found in Hawthorn include oligomeric procyanidins (OPCc), vitexin, quercetin, and hyperoside. The action of these compounds on the cardiovascular system has led to the development of leaf and flower extracts.
Medical practitioners in Europe and China use Hawthorn to treat early stages of congestive heart failure characterized by diminished cardiac function, a sensation of pressure or anxiety in the heart area, age-related heart disorders which do not require digitalis, and mild arrhythmias. Numerous pharmacological and clinical studies have shown that Hawthorn fruit or berry extract improves blood flow to and from the heart by strengthening its contractions. Hawthorn flower and leaf extracts improve circulation to the extremities by reducing resistance in the arteries. Experiments in China have shown that preparations of Hawthorn fruit lower blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels, and are therefore useful in the prevention and treatment of arteriosclerosis. Hawthorn is rich in bioflavonoids, which relax and dilate the arteries. These compounds are powerful antioxidants that help increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. This reduces the work required by the heart to circulate blood, and in-turn reduces blood pressure and stress to the heart muscle. The bioflavonoid substances give strength to the walls of blood vessels and improve blood flow to other areas of the body. Components in Hawthorn have also been shown to lower cholesterol, and the amount of plaque in arteries.
All Natural. http://www.allnatural.net/herbpages/hawthorn.shtml
Holistic Online. http://www.holisticonline.com/Herbal-Med/_Herbs/h22.htm
Herbal Information Center. http://www.kcweb.com/herb/hawthorn.htm