This herb is used to protect against the early stages of heart disease, for pressure or tightness in chest, and for mild arrhythmia. It's also useful for those recovering from a heart attack. The flowers, leaves and berries all have a vasodilatory effect, opening the arteries and improving blood supply to all tissues of the body. This helps to balance blood pressure and makes an excellent remedy for high blood pressure particularly when associated with hardening of the arteries. Hawthorn opens the coronary arteries in the heart, thereby improving blood flow and softening deposits, and makes an excellent remedy for angina. Hawthorn has further benefit to the heart in its action on the vagus nerve which influences the heart, so that an over-fast heart rate is slowed and heart irregularities settle down. Hawthorn can be used to improve poor circulation associated with "aging" arteries, poor circulation to the legs and poor memory and confusion related to poor blood supply to the brain. It also increases circulation to the brain and decreases inflammation caused by allergies making it useful in treating
attention deficit disorder
. The berries have an astringent effect and can be used for diarrhea and dysentery. The leaves, flowers and berries have a relaxant effect in the digestive tract and act to increase the appetite, relieve distension and stagnation of food in the intestines. They have an equally relaxant effect on the nervous system, relieving stress and anxiety, calming agitation, restlessness and nervous palpitations and inducing sleep in those suffering from insomnia. They also have a diuretic effect, relieving fluid retention and dissolving stones and gravel, and can be used during the menopause for debility or night sweats. A decoction of the berries can be used as an astringent gargle for throats and a douche for vaginal discharges.
Large doses may have a sedating effect. Use with care during pregnancy. You can buy the whole, dried berries in bulk for making Hawthorn infusions. It is also available in capsules, tinctures, and tablets.