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By: Jessica Godino, Red Moon Herbs


When most of us think of love, the flower that comes to mind is Rose. However, the noble Rose has a humble cousin that is such a gentle yet powerful tonic for the heart that perhaps it should be the symbol of love. This little known relative is Hawthorn (Cratageus sp.), a small tree that loves sunny and windy places. It has beautiful pinkish flowers in the spring that turn into dusky red berries by fall. Unfortunately, no one will ever send you a bouquet of Hawthorn because it is covered in thorns even bigger than the ones on roses!

Hawthorn is well known to herbalists as a restorative tonic for the heart, one that is able to revitalize the whole cardiovascular system. It has been used to regulate heart rhythm in cases of arrhythmia and tachycardia, and helps to slowly rebuild the heart in cases of degenerative heart disease. It is also a wonderful tonic for people with high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis. By helping to dilate the arteries it can improve blood flow to all parts of the body. This little shrub is a good friend to people with poor circulation.

Hawthorn can heal not only the physical heart, but the emotional one as well. It can open your heart to give and receive more love. Who couldn¹t use a little of that?! This thorny yet gentle-acting plant also helps to soothe a heart filled with sorrow, regret, or grief.

Hawthorn is a very safe plant with no known toxicity. Of course, if you decide to work with this herb, it is always wise to consult with a knowledgeable practitioner. The flowers, leaves and berries of Hawthorn are all used to make medicine. It is best taken as an alcohol extract or strong tea. A typical dosage would be 30 drops of extract three times per day, or as much tea as you enjoy drinking. The effects of Hawthorn build over time, so plan to take it for at least two to six months for optimum results. So next time your heart needs some nurturing, remember this "little rose!"

copyright Jessica Godino, 2000

Jessica Godino has been teaching people about herbal medicine for almost two decades. After training with Susun Weed she co-founded Red Moon Herbs, an herbal medicine company. Her deep love for the plants and easygoing teaching style makes learning about herbal medicine accessible to everyone. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she practices acupuncture and teaches herbal medicine. She can be reached at


Other Articles by Jessica Godino include:

Wildcrafting Guidelines - ten steps to follow
Spring Tonics - Stinging Nettle, Chickweed, and Dandelion
Calendula - useful on all external skin problems
Usnea - a versatile immune system tonic
Violet - a nutritional and medicinal powerhouse
Vitex - a supreme hormonal tonic for women


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