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Hawthorn

Hawthorn
© Sertürner Bildarchiv

Botanical name

Common or Single-seeded hawthorn - Crataegus monogyna Jacq.
Midland hawthorn, Woodland hawthorn or Mayflower,- Crataegus laevigata (Poir.) DC. (Syn. C. oxyacantha L.)

Family

Rose family (Rosaceae)

Useful information about the plant

The genus Crataegus is a large genus whose systematic classification is very difficult because the types are very easily bastardised. 150 to 2000 species can be described, depending on classification, of which only 100 to 200 can be called a true species. The Common hawthorn is native to southern and northern Europe, Russia, Siberia, the Himalayas, North Africa, Chile and China, the Midland hawthorn is found throughout Europe and is farmed in America. Both species grow as hawthorn shrubs in deciduous forests, bushes, hedges, along fences and in gardens and parks. "Hawthorn" refers to the white flowers and spiny branches of this large shrubs. They are in full bloom from May to June - the Common hawthorn two weeks before the Midland hawthorn - and then they adorn our landscape with their white flowers. The two species differ, as expressed in the epithets. But a better way to distinguish them is by the shape of the leaf. The leaves of the Common hawthorn are cut deeper than that of the Midland hawthorn, whose leaves are diamond shaped and sawed. The small white flowers grow in clusters and after fertilisation they ripen on both species into small, bright red drupes, which make the shrubs looks very decorative in the autumn.

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The dried flower-bearing twigs and dried berries are used. The commercial drug comes from various Eastern and Southern European countries.

Ingredients of the drug

Hawthorn leaves with flowers contain flavonoids, oligomeric procyanidins, caffeoylquinic acids. Hawthorn berries contain oligomeric procyanidins, flavonoids

Descriptions of the quality

The quality of the following drugs or drug preparations is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.):

  • Hawthorn leaf with flower (Crataegi folium cum flore)
  • Hawthorn leaf with flower- dried extract (Crataegi folii cum flore extractum siccum)
  • Quantified hawthorn leaf with flower- fluid extract (Crataegi folii cum flore extractum fluidum quantificatum)
  • Hawthorn berries (Crataegi fructus)
According to the pharmacopoeia hawthorn leaves with flowers and the hawthorn fruits even from hybrids from the Common hawthorn and Midland hawthorn can be used. Also the C. pentagyna Waldst. Et Kit., C. nigra Waldst. Et Kit. and C. azarolus L. are, according to Pharmacopoeia, approved as a root plant of the drug.
The quality of the following drugs or drug preparations is specified in the German pharmaceutical Codex (DAC):
  • Hawthorn flower (Crataegi flos)
  • Hawthorn tincture from leaves and flowers (Crataegi tinctura e foliis cum floribus)

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

Hawthorn leaf with flowers
Declining performance of the heart (heart failure) corresponding with stage II according to the NYHA (New York Heart Association) (Commission E, ESCOP).
The effectiveness is proven by clinical studies (approved). ESCOP recognises this area of use but only for finished pharmaceuticals with alcoholic extracts as the active ingredients; for tea preparations is the area of use is: "nervous heart complaints and support of the heart and circulatory function."

Hawthorn berries
Nervous heart complaints and support heart and circulatory function (ESCOP), Commission E: Negative monograph.

Traditional use

Hawthorn leaves with flowers: No listing as a traditional use (§ 109a)
Hawthorn berries: Traditionally used to support cardiovascular function (traditional use acc. to § 109a).

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products

Hawthorn leaf with flower

Hawthorn berries
  • powdered fruit in tablets
  • dried extract in tablets and capsules
  • alcoholic extract in drops

Dosage

Prepared drugs: see package insert;
Tea infusion: drink a cup of Hawthorn tea (hawthorn leaves with flowers) 3 to 4 times daily for several weeks. Average daily dose 3.0 to 6.0g of the drug.

Preparation of a tea infusion

Pour 150ml of boiling water over 1.0 to 1.5g of finely chopped leaves of hawthorn blossoms and then strain after 15 minutes. Hawthorn berries are not suitable for the preparation of a tea infusion.

Advice

There are still no studies on the safety of using hawthorn leaf with flower and hawthorn berries during pregnancy and breast-feeding as well as for use in children under 12 years old. Therefore, its ingestion is recommended only if clearly indicated by the doctor.

Side effects

Rarely, gastrointestinal symptoms, feeling weak, or skin rash

Interactions

None known

References

Drug monographs

Commission E, ESCOP, WHO Vol. 2

Further reading

Wichtl: Teedrogen und Phytopharmaka, pg. 195, pg. 200
Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 283
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 115
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Hawthorn leaves with flowers, no. 1432; Hawthorn leaf with flowers dried extract, no. 1865;
Hawthorn leaf with flowers fluid extract, no. 1864; Hawthorn berries, no. 1220)

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