5 Ways To Harness The Health Benefits Of Hawthorn Berries
While this plant's prickly defence system forms impenetrable hedges in the British countryside, don't let its demeanour fool you. The health benefits of hawthorn berries have been utilised since the Middle Ages, and thanks to science, today, we now know precisely how powerful this plant is.
This versatile plant boasts powerful health benefits that you can incorporate into your life. In this blog, we'll explore those health benefits as well give you some hawthorn berry recipes to support your well-being.
Traditional Uses Of Hawthorn Berries
The hawthorn tree (Crataegus monogyna) held a special place in Celtic mythology as the home of fairies, making it a sacred symbol. All parts of the plant were used in various traditions. The young leaves were incorporated into salads, while the flowers were utilised in pagan rituals. The berries, on the other hand, were turned into jams, jellies, syrups, and tinctures.
How To Identify Hawthorn
If you’re looking to wild forage some hawthorn berries for their health benefits, here’s what to look for. Remember that the leaves and flowers of hawthorn can be used too. Hawthorn trees can range in height from 3 feet to 49 feet with thorned branches. They have white flowers, which appear in clusters of 5-30 in the spring.
Hawthorn berries appear in autumn and are usually bright red. Hawthorn leaves are toothed and can be elliptic or oval-shaped, and some are deeply lobed. It’s a hardy plant and will cope with most soils and sites. Hawthorn flowers in spring, and the berries are ready in autumn.
Hawthorn Berries Are Good For Your Heart
The heart health benefits of hawthorn berries are probably the most well known. Hawthorn can support blood pressure, which can rise when you are stressed, unwell or when your cardiovascular system is under pressure.
The affinity to the heart is also due to hawthorn’s ability to increase the strength of the heart contractions and help support a reduction in serum cholesterol and plaque deposits in the arteries (this is an area that is being further researched).
The amazing health benefits of hawthorn berries don't end there. A study by Degenring et al. found that Stage II heart failure patients who took a standardized fresh berry extract for two months experienced significantly increased ability to tolerate exercise and saw a reduction in their blood pressure.
Hawthorn is also a calming nervine, used much like rose (which helps to support the heart, especially in times of stress and grief). There is documented use for hawthorn to support the nervous system for people that suffer from anxiety, worry, ADHD and irritability. This is why we choose to include it in our Mood Boost.
Hawthorn Berries Are Full Of Antioxidants
Hawthorn berries, like many berries, are full of antioxidants. The bright red colour of hawthorn berries is a sign of their antioxidant properties, which are derived from their high levels of polyphenols and flavonoids. Polyphenols are vital in fighting free radical damage, which occurs from various things like pollution, stress, medications, diets and illness.
Your heart is one of the hardest working organs, so it is subjected to a lot of stress and free radical damage.
For example, post-illness, your body will be trying to get back to ‘normal’, and by consuming things high in antioxidants and polyphenols, your body will be able to reduce the stress that free radical damage might be having internally. This is where the health benefits hawthorn of berries shine!
Hawthorn berries' high antioxidant levels can support damaged tissues and help maintain healthy arteries - all essential for health and well-being. It is fascinating when science reaffirms traditional use and highlights how these amazing plants work on a cellular level.
5 ways you can utilise the health benefits of hawthorn berries
1. Eat The Raw Leaves (In Spring)
It's not just the hawthorn berries that have health benefits, you can use hawthorn leaves too! Hawthorn trees will start sporting fresh new growth in spring, which is also when the leaves are at their most nutritious. If you want to try something novel, consider adding fresh hawthorn leaves to your spring salad. You can combine the fresh leaves with fresh dandelion and edible flowers to make a beautiful foraged salad. These vibrant leaves look and taste great and have a host of health benefits, just like the berries.
2. Add Dried Hawthorn To Herbal Tea
To make hawthorn berry tea, you can use all parts of the tree, inclduing the leaves and flowers. Once picked, rinse them thoroughly with cold water, removing the stems from the berries. To dry everything, spread the berries, leaves and flowers out in a single layer on a clean, dry surface and allow them to air dry for several days until they are completely dehydrated.
When your hawthorn berries are dry, they're ready to be added to your favourite tea. Or you could create your own blend. To enhance the health benefits of your hawthorn tea, consider adding other ingredients like ginger and a pinch of cayenne pepper to help with circulation. Or add rosehips for an antioxidant boost in winter.
3. Make A Hawthorn Syrup
Hawthorn berry supplements like this are a great way to get a more therapeutic dose. That's why we've done the hard work for you! We wanted to harness the health benefits of hawthorn berries in a tonic that you could take easily every day. Our Mood Boost has hawthorn berries to help support your nervous system and blood pressure levels, as well as lemon balm and St John's wort. Find out more here.