Some of my favorite cardiovascular-system herbal allies are: hawthorn berries and flowers, rosemary, linden, grape leaves, nettles, seaweeds, parsley, yarrow, violet, and ginkgo biloba.
The first herb I think of in connection with the health of our dear hearts is the sacred hawthorn tree, beloved of the mischievous faeries and all who believe that a life devoid of magic is not really worth living.
Hawthorn (Crataegus species)
Grandmother hawthorn sounds like a snake
When the wind moves through her leaves,
Making them shake.
They rustle and hiss
As they touch one another -
Sounds like a snake may be Grandmother's lover!
But sly humor and magic isn't all there is to hawthorn, not by a long shot. Hawthorn strengthens and protects the heart and cardiovascular system, as well as the coronary circulation. Her leaves, flowers, and fruits contain chemicals that increase the blood flow to the heart muscle. Hawthorn increases the ease of circulation by toning the arteries as it strengthens and soothes the heart, and is considered specific for angina pectoris and functional heart disease. She is a member of the rose family and, like rose, is a direct tonic to the heart, arteries, nerves, blood, and intestines.
Hawthorn is rich in a variety of bio-flavonoids including the anti-inflammatory quercetin. The flowers of hawthorn are sweet and musky, while the fruits area sour and astringent. All parts are high in vitamin C, and are nourishing, calming, and restorative. Hawthorn infusion or tincture relieves a feeling of oppression in the chest and can help with fatique and difficulty breathing. Hawthorn can normalize blood pressure and reduce fluid congestion around the heart. For that last purpose, combine it with mullein leaf. Hawthorn is used for palpitations, and for that purpose combines well with motherwort.
Hawthorn is an essentially safe plant medicine. Eating or drinking an infusion or tincture made from her fruits is akin to eating apples (another member of the rose family). Hawthorn provides nourishment to the blood, strengthens the blood vessels in the digestive system, and increases digestive enzymes as well, increasing the efficiency and ease with which fats and proteins are digested.
I love hawthorn and have found many delightful ways to ingest this healing plant. Hawthorn berries and flower infusions are one of my "regulars" - the herbs I turn to again and again as a source of iron, antioxidants, and optimal nourishment for veins, arteries, and heart. It is also a vital medicine for the spiritual heart.
Herbalists vary in the dosages they suggest, and generally speaking dosages need to be adjusted to the person using the herb. I typically suggest starting with 1 dropper of tincture several times daily, or 2-4 cups of infusion on its own or blended with other plant medicines. Here's a great recipe:
Healthy Heart Blend - Variation I
- 1/2 cup dried hawthorn berries
- 1/2 cup dried hawthorn flowers and leaves
- 1/2 cup dried linden blossoms
- 1/2 cup dried nettle leaves and stalks
Mix these herbs together into a half-gallon jar and pour boiling water over them, to the top. Cap it tightly and let it steep for about 12 hours. Drink 1-4 cups daily.
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