Information about the herb Hawthorn

Crataegus oxyacantha, also known as English Hawthorn is part of the Rosaceae plant family. Hawthorn originates from continental Europe, England, North Africa, Central Asia, Western Asia. 

General Information

Botanical Name: Crataegus oxyacantha [leaves], Crataegus monogyna [berries]

Plant Family: Rosaceae

Common Name: English Hawthorn, May Blossom, May Bush, May Tree, Quickset, Thornapple Tree, Weissdorn, Whitethorn

History: Hawthorn is called Crataegus oxyacantha from the Greek kratos ‘hardness of wood’, oxus, ‘sharp’ and acantha ‘a thorn’. 

The berries were used by the American Indians for:

  • a cardiac tonic
  • rheumatism

Tradition:  Tradition has it that Hawthorn:

  • branches bought into the house portended death
  • was the hedge in the story ‘The Sleeping Beauty’
  • was the wood used for Jesus’s ‘Crown of Thorns’
  • was used in magic and to ward off witchcraft

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Plant Constituents of Hawthorn


  • Amines
  • Amyddalin
  • Bioflavonoids
  • Coumarin (an anti-coagulant)
  • Crataegin (alkaloid contained in the bark)
  • Glycosides
  • Tannins
  • Triterpenoid saponins

Action :

  • anti-arrhythmic effects (heart)
  • anticoagulant [an agent that prevents the formation of clots in a liquid, as in blood]
  • antispasmodic [an agent that relieves or checks spasms or cramps]
  • antioxidants [contributing to the oxidation of free radicals which are believed to contribute to premature aging and dementia] that help increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart
  • astringent [an agent that contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges]
  • cardiac [an agent that stimulates or otherwise affects the heart]
  • cardiotonic [an agent that has a tonic effect on the heart]
  • diuretic [an agent that secretes or expels urine]
  • hypotensive [an agent that lowers blood pressure]
  • sedative [a soothing agent that reduces nervousness, distress or irritation]
  • tonic [an agent that strengthens or invigorates organs or the entire organism]
  • vasodilator [an agent that widens the blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure]

Usage of Hawthorn

Medicinal Parts Used: Berries, young stems, leaves and flowers

Hawthorn is a good preventative herb for people with a family history of

  • angina pectoris
  • arteriosclerosis
  • hardening of the arteries
  • heart attacks
  • high or low blood pressure
  • valvular insufficiency
  • inflammation of the heart muscle
  • irregular pulse

Hawthorn is used for:

Blood Conditions

  • inflammation of the blood vessels
  • strengthens the walls of blood vessels 
  • varicose veins

Brain and Nervous System Conditions

  • enhances poor memory by improving circulation of blood within the head and increasing the amount of oxygen to the brain, when combined with Ginkgo Biloba
  • increases blood flow to the brain  

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • angina, a disease marked by intense chest pain
  • arteriosclerosis
  • cardiac curative
  • enhances the strength of the heart’s contractions
  • heart failure and debility
  • heart muscle weakened by age
  • helps prevent irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias, which can lead to heart attacks
  • helps protect the heart against oxygen deprivation by inhibiting free radical formation which is beneficial in maintaining healthy heart vessels and promoting overall heart health
  • improves blood supply to the heart 
  • improves circulation and increases tolerance for physical exertion
  • increases blood flow to the heart and brain  
  • increases metabolism in the heart muscle
  • lowers blood pressure (with extended use)
  • lowers cholesterol and the amount of plaque in arteries
  • myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
  • nervous heart problems
  • normalizes blood pressure by regulating the action of the heart, not only lowering high blood pressure but also raising blood pressure that is low
  • normalizes cardiovascular functions 
  • normalizes heart action
  • palpitations
  • rapid heart beat 
  • reduces blood pressure and stress to the heart muscle
  • relaxes and dilates the arteries
  • restorative after a heart attack
  • stabilizes and strengthens the heartbeat
  • strengthens a heart muscle weakened by age
  • supports the heart
  • weak heart, combined with Rosemary and Rue

Hawthorn Berries are used for:

  • congestive heart failure and circulatory disorders
  • increasing coronary blood flow
  • mild cardiac insufficiency

Gastrointestinal Conditions

  • digestive problems, combined with Cactus grandiflorus

Genitourinary Conditions

  • helps rid the body of excess salt and water thus supporting weight-loss and weight control programs
  • urinary tract infections, combined with Agrimony, Thyme and Golden Rod

Respiratory Tract Conditions

  • sore throat

Other Uses:

  • an excellent liquor made from Hawthorn berries and brandy
  • repels bees and is only pollinated by flies

Hawthorn is best-used long term as the active constituents do not produce rapid results. Benefits develop slowly having a direct effect on the heart itself, especially in cases of heart damage and heart problems associated with liver disease. It is gentle and safe for long-term use with no toxic side effects.

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Drug Interactions

You should not use Hawthorn without first talking to your health care professional if you are currently being treated with any of the following medications:

  • None Known


Global Herbal Supplies has Hawthorn available in the following forms:

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