crataegus or hawthorn berries

Botanical: Crataegus spp.

Family: Rosaceae

energetics: cooling, moistening

parts used: berries, flowers, leaves

energetics: slightly cooling, neutral

actions: antioxidant, astringent, cardiac trophorestorative, digestant, diuretic, relaxing nervine

used for: restores heart tissue, nourishing, cardiac weakness, stagnant digestion, regulating blood pressure, atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, anxiety

common names: Thornapple, May Tree, Whitethorn, Hawberry, Quickset, Aggles, Hedgethorn

Taste of Over-Ripe Apples The “haw” in Hawthorn derives from the Old English term for hedge, and is the name of the fruit, sometimes called “Haws”. They are edible with a taste compared to over-ripe apples.

While the Crataegus is a native to northern Europe, hawthorn grows throughout the world. The red fruits contain powerful substances. Hawthorn berries belong to the Rosaceae family of plants (that includes roses and apples. And like roses, the berries are accompanied by long, woody thorns that can be quite hazardous, if not handled carefully.

In times past, every part of the bush — flowers, berries, leaves, stems and bark — were used to make medicine. In fact, most modern preparations use the leaves and flowers which are believed to contain even more flavonoids than the berries.

At one time, hawthorn was referred to as the “bread and cheese tree”. Since the flowers, berries and leaves were all edible, during famine it kept many people alive. Also, known as food for the heart, these amazing red berries can do wonders for cardiovascular health. In Europe, thousands of doctors prescribe hawthorn to prevent cardiovascular disease. Today, hawthorn is an official drug in Brazil, China, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Hungary, Russia and Switzerland.

Hawthorn berries are food to much wildlife, including the Bohemian Waxwing
The hawthorns provide food and shelter to birds and mammals. The flowers are important for nectar-feeding insects. The “haw” is important to thrushes and waxwings in winter as they eat them and disperse the seeds in their drippings.

Their berries are packed with nutrition and have a tart, tangy taste and mild sweetness, ranging in color from yellow to deep red to black. [1]

For centuries, hawthorn extract has been used as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, heart failure, and high blood pressure. The best-known herb for the heart in western herbalism is hawthorn.

Culinary Uses for Hawthorn

Hawthorn Berry Vitamins and Nutrients:

  • B-vitamins, including folic acid (antioxidant and important for metabolism)
  • Vitamin C (immunity, skin, and cardiovascular health)
  • Flavonoid rutin (an antioxidant that improves blood flow by helping to dilate blood vessels
  • Phenols (anti-inflammatory and antiseptic)
  • Procyanidins (antioxidant compounds)
  • Vitexin [2] (antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory)
  • Catechins (a class of antioxidants)
  • Saponins (help the body absorb nutrients)
  • Calcium
  • Iron

A mix of the berries, sugar and chili powder are a popular Mexican candy called rielitos.

Using Hawthorn for Wellness

Blood Pressure

Hawthorn causes blood vessels to relax, which widens the vessels and allows blood to flow more easily. [3]

A randomized clinical trial that studied the effects of the C. laevigata species on lowering blood pressure in 79 type 2 diabetes patients taking medication. This was the first such study to find that hawthorn berry benefits can include mitigating the hypotensive effects in patients with type 2 diabetes who are also taking medication.

In the study, 39 patients took a daily dose of hawthorn extract for 16 weeks and 40 patients in a second group took a placebo. The group that took Hawthorn showed a greater improvement in diastolic blood pressure reduction than the placebo group. [4]

The best-known herb for the heart in western herbalism is hawthorn. Share on X


  • tea: up to 30 grams of berries, and up to 30 grams of leaves and flowers, per day
  • tincture (fresh berries): 1:1, 40-60% alcohol, 5ml 3-5x per day
  • tincture (dried leaf, flower): 1:5, 30% alcohol, 5ml 3x per day

“Its thorns are like nails; inches long and strong; tensile. And yet, a gentler, more nourishing medicine plant is unlikely to be found.” ~ jim mcdonald”


  • People taking heart medications like digitalis and beta blockers should consult with an experienced practitioner before taking hawthorn.
  • Large dosages of the leaf and flower may cause stomach upset in some individuals. If this happens, decrease the amount.
  • Hawthorn might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using hawthorn at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


  1. PMCID:PMC4586556 – DOI Polyphenolic Composition of Crataegus monogyna Jacq.: From Chemistry to Medical Applications
  2. He, Miao et al. “A review on the pharmacological effects of vitexin and isovitexin.” Fitoterapia vol. 115 (2016): 74-85. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2016.09.011
  3. WebMD Hawthorn
  4. Walker AF, Marakis G, Simpson E, Hope JL, Robinson PA, Hassanein M, Simpson HC. Hypotensive effects of hawthorn for patients with diabetes taking prescription drugs: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Gen Pract. 2006 Jun;56(527):437-43. PMID: 16762125; PMCID: PMC1839018.

The Ready Store
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease" ~ Thomas Jefferson