You may know of hawthorn as the “heart herb”, and for good reason. It strengthens the heart muscle, regulates the heartbeat, and raises or lowers blood pressure depending on the need. Clinically it is used with heart problems such as angina, mild congestive heart failure, and recovery from/prevention of cardiac arrest.
But hawthorn has another gift to offer the heart, and this is as a powerful, effective nervine.
Instinctively, we know that the heart is more than just an organ that pumps blood. Nowadays, studies are able to show our inborn knowledge that the heart is also the seat of our emotions. Disturbances at the heart level can manifest in symptoms such as anxiety, ADHD, insomnia, irritability, nightmares, and an inability to settle down, to name a few. These symptoms often go hand-in-hand with heart problems such as imbalanced blood pressure, arrhythmias, and more serious degenerative diseases.
Hawthorn helps to gently restore balance to the heart at a level that reaches beyond the physical organ. A dose of hawthorn can immediately bring an inner sense of groundedness and quietude, while it calms or stimulates the heart muscle as needed. Long-term use can restore vitality to a broken heart and provide long-term balancing benefits. In the words of herbalist Richo Cech, hawthorn “promotes a general sense of open-hearted well-being.” Herbalist David Winston uses his delicious hawthorn berry solid extract to treat “children and adults who can’t sit still, are fidgety, can’t stop talking, are disruptive, and have no ability to concentrate.”
Hawthorn supports not only the physical heart, but our deep emotional health as well. This lovely berry gives us the heart-strength we need to love deeply and live our lives to the fullest (from the heart, as they say).
Hawthorn berries can be thought of as both a food and a medicine. To make a simple hawthorn syrup that can be taken daily, just use the following recipe:
Heart-Tonifying Hawthorn Syrup
1 cup dried hawthorn berries
3 cups water
1/4 cup raw honey (or to taste)
Combine the hawthorn berries and water in a non-reactive pot, and simmer until about half the liquid has evaporated. Mash the berries down with a potato masher or fork every so often. Once the liquid has reduced down, strain out the berry mash and pour the liquid back into the pan. Over gentle heat, stir in the honey until it is all incorporated. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a bit before storing in a glass jar.
This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. You can take 2-3 tablespoons daily as a maintenance dose, but don’t be surprised if you feel like gobbling up this syrup as quick as you can make it. Most of our hearts are in need of a little TLC. This syrup is especially good as a hot drink this time of year.
Last but not least, be sure to come by in the spring to visit the latest addition to the Smile Herb Shop garden…a baby hawthorn tree!
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