Crataegus monogyna (Crataegus laevigata)
Hawthorn, haws, may, bread & cheese
Hawthorn is found throughout the British Isles and has been used for centuries in both food and medicine.
The dried flowers, leaves and berries.
The young leaves are known as 'Bread and Cheese' and eaten raw in the countryside for their flavour - added to sandwiches or salads. Both the leaves, flowers and berries make an excellent herbal tea. The flowers have a nutty, almond like flavour and can also be used in salads. Like most flowers, the scent and flavour is volatile and should be lightly infused and not boiled. The resulting tea can be used to make sorbets and delicate desserts.
The berries need to be cooked as they are too pithy and sour to eat raw. However, they make an excellent jam. The berries can also be used to make traditional Hawthorn Berry Gin.
Use 1 teaspoon of dried herb to one cup of boiling water to make a tasty tea. Infuse for 5-10 minutes. Sweeten with honey or lemon to taste.
Alternatively add half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of tincture to a cup of warm water for a quick alternative to tea.
The herb can be added as a flavouring to gin, vodka and other infusions.
HAWTHORN BERRY GIN
Pick, sort, top and tail enough hawthorn berries to fit into a preserving jar. Pack into the jar, sprinkling a little sugar between layers. Once you have reached the top of the jar, fill with gin. Seal and put in a cupboard. Every few days give the jar a shake. After a month the berries will have lost their colour and the gin turned a shade of rosé. Filter off into bottles and keep for three to six months to mature. Enjoy in moderation.
HAWTHORN BERRY BRANDY
Repeat the above process, substituting brandy for the gin.
700 g hawthorn berries (haws)
350 ml water (approx)
500 g sugar (approx)
Destalk and wash your haws. Put into a large saucepan and cover the berries with water. Boil for an hour, stirring 2 or 3 times and mashing the haws with a potato masher as they soften.
After an hour remove from heat. Pour into a muslin bag and strain the haws, keeping the liquid. This is best done overnight. Don't be tempted to squeeze the bag as this will make the jelly cloudy.
Discard the haws and measure the juice. Add 1 gram of sugar for every ml of liquid (e.g. 350 ml liquid + 350 g sugar). Also add the juice of 1 lemon. Put all these into a heavy saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Then boil rapidly for 10 minutes until the jelly sets on a cold plate.
Skim off any foam and pour into sterilised jam jars. Seal and store.
Traditionally taken to strengthen the heart and reduce high blood pressure. Both flowers and berries are astringent and useful in decoction to cure sore throats. A useful diuretic in dropsy and kidney troubles.
Key actions: Cardiac, diuretic, astringent, tonic.
In clinic: Mainly used by herbalists as a cardiac tonic in organic and functional heart troubles including: Angina, bradycardia, palpitations, ventricular fibrillation, tachycardia, cardiac disease, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
If you are interested in the medicinal use of this herb please consult a herbalist. Herbs are generally used at medicinal strength, in blends, prescribed for each unique patient's condition.
Infusion: About half a teaspoon to 1 of herb (0.2 to 2 g) to a cup of cold water. Pour boiling water over the herb and leave to infuse for 5 to 10 minutes. Flavour with lemon, ginger or honey if desired. Drink 3 times a day unless otherwise told by a medical herbalist.
Tincture: Take 1.1 to 5.8 ml (1:5 tincture), 3 times a day or as directed by a practitioner.
Fluid extract: 1:2 Take 1 to 2 ml, 3 times a day or as directed by a practitioner.
Dried Herb: Maximum of 6 g per day may be taken as a powder or capsules.
This herb is considered safe in food amounts. Do not take if you are allergic to this plant or other members of this plant's family (Rosaceae). Not all herbs are suitable in pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children. If in doubt, please ask us or your medical herbalist.
Overdose can cause cardiac arrhythmia and dangerously lower blood pressure. Plant extracts cause few side effects when taken correctly but if a side effect is experienced please contact us.
Interactions with drugs
Hawthorn is vasodilatory and increases coronary artery dilation, thus reducing the dose needed of some heart drugs. It should not therefore be taken concurrently with heart medication except under the advice of a doctor or medical herbalist.
Herbal remedies and supplements can interact with medicines. If you are taking medication please check with your medical practitioner, or call us, before taking herbs, supplements and medication together.
Crataegus oxyacantha (Hawthorn). Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Jul;15(2):164-7. PDF
Li Z, Xu J, Zheng P, Xing L, Shen H, Yang L, Zhang L, Ji G. Hawthorn leaf flavonoids alleviate nonalcoholic fatty liver disease by enhancing the adiponectin/AMPK pathway. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015 Oct 15;8(10):17295-307. PDF
Peters W, Drüppel V, Kusche-Vihrog K, Schubert C, Oberleithner H. Nanomechanics and sodium permeability of endothelial surface layer modulated by hawthorn extract WS 1442. PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e29972. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029972. PDF
Wang J, Xiong X, Feng B. Effect of crataegus usage in cardiovascular disease prevention: an evidence-based approach. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:149363. doi: 10.1155/2013/149363. PDF
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