Hello everyone and Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are enjoying your short week! I know I am. But before I call it quits for the work week, I wanted to throw up an update, since a lot has happened since I last posted. The biggest news is that I’ve started my own nutrition practice: Nutrition Designed. It’s been super rewarding and I’ve already seen huge changes in a lot of my clients. Additionally, I am working at a local Denver apothecary called Apothecary Tinctura. I started there mainly to bring my nutrition knowledge into their space since most that work there are schooled herbalists. And though I learned a bit about herbs as medicine in my nutrition program, I would not call myself an herbalist. I find the use of herbs and medicine fascinating and a great tool to use in my nutrition and wellness practice. And every day I work there I learn more and more about this. It never fails to blow my mind how knowledgeable the herbalists there are.
A few weekends ago I was fortunate enough to attend a weekend immersion course on the “Roots of Herbal Medicine” led by the wonder woman owner of the apothecary, Kristin Schuch. It was an amazing educational experience and of course it was led in a teepee (sidenote: it was kinda AH-mazing and I think I need a teepee now)! I came back to the shop with a new depth of knowledge and a new weekly assignment: to pick one herb per week, take 3 days to experience it as a tea and the next 3 days as a tincture (an alcohol extract form of an herb). I am on my second week now and my first week was so great I thought it would be fun to share with you what I experienced and learned each week with my “herb/plant of the week”. Plus, it’ll keep me more accountable for posting here… I’ve not been super consistent here. But you didn’t notice that… right?!?! ;)
So to our first herb/plant of the week: HAWTHORNE
Botanical Latin Name: Crataegus Spp.
Botanical Family: Rosaceae (rose)
Parts used: berries, leaves and flowers
Method: Tea, Tincture, Foods (i.e. syrups, jams, and jellies)
Actions: Diuretic, Antiarrhythmic, Astringent, Antioxidant, Cardiotonic, Nutritive
Energetics: Cooling and drying
Taste: Sweet, astringent, sour
Dosage: safe to use with no upper limit
Contraindications: none that we are aware of. However, if on heart medications, meds may need to be decreased over time due to Hawthorne’s effectiveness
The Hawthorne plant is ideal for the cardiovascular system and known as then superior heart herb. And may herbalists even say it’s a daily must in our diet for heart health and a long and productive life. It is a nutritive herb, it contains great antioxidants and bioflavonoids to nourish the heart and body. It also strengthens and tones the heart muscle. It has a great ability to either gently stimulate or depress the activity of the heart. It can dilate arteries and veins, which increases blood flow and can helps with blockages. It can help with many areas of heart disease, such as reducing the risk of an angina attack, lowering blood pressure and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
Well-known and revered herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, says in her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, “I always tell women, if you love your husband, start feeding him Hawthorne berries when he turns 40. They are not only rich in antioxidants but also protect the heart.”
Hawthorne is also known to help with emotional pain as well, things like heart break, grief, stress, depression or anxiety as it relates to the heart. It’s can also be great medicine for those who have trouble with their emotions, especially when it comes to suppressing or expressing them.
Additional uses for Hawthorne:
- Varicose veins
- Poor circulation
- Poor memory
- Decreased cognitive function
- strengthens connective tissues
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Breathing difficulties
- Acne or other skin conditions
- Stop diarrhea
- Helps week or slow digestion, indigestion or appetite loss
- Pain or injured ligaments or tendons
How to use Hawthorne:
- Tea can be used daily (1 tbsp of the plant per cup and drink 3-4 cups daily), decocting (boiling the water and herbs on the stovetop and simmering for at least 20 minutes, strain to drink) the berries for tea is the best form to draw out all the constituents of the plant. I recommend trying this at least once, I noticed a better quality taste when I decocted the berries. But a normal hot infusion (pouring hot water over the herbs and letting steep for at least 10-15 minutes) was good too. The taste was quite pleasant. I could easily drink this alone daily.
- Tincture can be used more for deliberate work with heart conditions or disease (like heart palpitations or hypertension) or emotional trauma (like the death of a loved one or heartbreak).
- Food (jellies, jams, syrups and more) can and should be used daily for general health and nutrients. Plus they are delicious!
Here’s a recipe for a jam with hawthorn from Rosemary Gladstar's book:
Give it a try if you haven't tried it yet and let me know what you think about Hawthorne!