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Hawthorn and the heart.

Hawthorn isn't hypotensive or antihypertensive, per se.

A question on the ForageAhead mailing list:

>I recently heard someone saying that they ate hawthorne berries like any dietary berry. It seemed odd to me as it has hypotensive/antihypertensive properties.

Hawthorn is not hypo- or antihypertensive. It:

  • strengthens capillaries and larger blood vessel walls
  • strengthens the heart muscle itself
  • enhances the oxygen uptake of the heart muscle
  • is, lemmesee now (from R. F. Weiss): a positive inotrope, chronotrope and dromotrope, and a negative bathmotrope, and it enhances coronary and myocardiac blood supply. (Tell that to a doctor and watch him nod his head, looking as if he understood it.)
    (positive inotrope: strenghtens muscular contractions;
    positive chronotrope: strengthens the heart beat;
    positive dromotrope: strengthens the nerve impulses of the heart muscle;
    negative batmotrope: lessens the excitability of the heart muscle.)

So there's no straightforward hypo- or hypertensive action; instead, hawthorn is an all-round heart strengthener, and an all-round blood vessel strengthener, which incidentally will help both with low and with high blood pressure.

Hawthorn is bad for you if you can't take a slower heartbeat, but if that's no problem, go for it, whatEVER your heart problem is: you'll stave off the need for heart meds for years on end. That is a Good Thing (TM), seeing that heart meds go for symptoms (which means the problem will show up as a different symptom very shortly), whereas hawthorn goes for the reason for said symptom (which means the problem goes away, for at least as long as you take hawthorn).

And, although I've read that hawthorn should start working only after a few weeks of regular use: one elderly gentleman with heart problems whom I gave it to a few years ago felt very much better within a day of starting it, and, unfortunately, got really bad arrhythmia on day three (... he couldn't take the slower pulse).

> Any one heard about such a thing as eating hawthorne in such amounts?

You can't really do more than nibble on real hawthorn berries, and that only when they're fully ripe and the "meat" is very soft. Almost all of the berry is made up of two or three rather large and very hard seeds. You can make a juice of the berries, provided you give them a good three days in the freezer first; if you try to steam juice hawthorn berries straight off the tree you'll end up with dirty water, not juice.

Jam, well, just don't go there ... it's really not worth all the blisters you'll get, trying to get at least some meat off those berries, rubbing your take (which you've boiled for HOURS, waiting for the berries to soften (... they never do)) through a sieve or a food mill.

Some Chinese medicine dried "hawthorns" are tiny sliced-up apples. You can tell the difference from the apple-shaped seed nests; no hawthorn worth its salt looks like an apple inside.

To illustrate in ascii signage: hawthorns don't look like this inside: (*), they look like this: (), where is another.

And for real berry apples, or apple berries: y-u-m, especially after a frost, for things like ripe soft Malus toringo berries. Like, wow.


Related entry: Crataegus - hawthorn