Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha)

The Crataegus oxyacantha or hawthorn as it is commonly known, is a plant that belongs to the Rosaceae family, which in appropriate conditions can reach 5 meters in height. Bushy, with thorny branches, green leaves, white flowers and small berries. It thrives in clay and rocky soils.

It is frequently used to make hedges, this being a plant widely used in both conventional and natural medicine, especially in the treatment of heart conditions. In Europe alone, there are more than two hundred healing preparations made with this plant.


The Crataegus oxiyacantha is a species from the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere of Europe and can occupy large areas of land. It is a shrub widely cultivated in the countries of Europe, although it is also present in North Africa and West Asia.

Characteristics of the Crataegus oxyacantha

Hawthorn thrives on shrubs and small trees, usually thorny. The bark of young hawthorn branches is clear, hence it is also known as hawthorn. Hawthorn leaves are small and lobed from 1 to 3.5 cm, deciduous, dark green on the upper surface of the leaf and bright green on the underside. Smooth-looking blades, ovate in shape, wedge-shaped and divided into three to five lobes toothed, obtuse or sharp at their extremities, their aroma is quite intense.

It bears some small, lobular fruits, of a very bright red color that store the seed inside, which in the species is only one. The flowering of the plant occurs in the spring, the flower is white, very attractive and has five petals, a lower ovary and hard and bony carpels.

Its cultivation and care

Under appropriate climatic conditions for the species, Crataegus oxyacantha adjusts to all types of soil, especially clay and rocky soils, so it does not need a specific pH as is usual in other plants. This shrub thrives faster in loose soils. This plant is frequently seen in low areas. It is a very resistant species that can tolerate temperatures of up to – 18º C, so those people who live in cold places interested in its cultivation, do not have to worry about possible low temperatures, in addition, it adapts well to sudden drops of temperature.

Regarding light, it can be grown under full light, since the plant thrives very well under any light intensity.  Better to plant in soils that have a good capacity to keep humid, especially in areas with frequent frosts. Due to its strength, Crataegus oxiyacantha tolerates air pollution.

Its propagation occurs from the seeds that provide its fruits. It is recommended to remove the seeds during the month of October, the time when they mature and plant. This will make the plant germinate in a more profitable and healthy way in the spring season. While it is true that the germination of mature seeds is rapid, the further development of the species can take up to a year.

Uses and benefits

This plant is found within the variety of medicinal plants and is used to treat a wide variety of inflammatory conditions, but it has usually been used to treat diseases such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure and arrhythmia. Research has confirmed that it is a safe and reliable plant derivative for cardiovascular disorders such as:

Congestive heart failure

As an antioxidant it reduces the symptoms of heart failure, its action increases blood flow to the heart and the force of its contractions, in addition, it decreases the resistance to blood flow in the extremities.

Angina pectoris

Thanks to its flavonoid content, its action in patients with angina pectoris improves cardiac function and tolerance to exercise. The flavonoids found in some plants are good heart protectors.

Cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure

Some studies have determined its effectiveness in treating congestive heart failure. Experts in natural medicine also recommend it for its effectiveness and low risk.


Recommended in the treatment of high blood pressure in patients with congestive heart failure in its first stage.

Cardiac arrhythmia

It has traditionally been used to reduce the frequency of arrhythmias. Studies in animals have shown its effectiveness in these, but so far it has not been used in the treatment of arrhythmia in humans.

Valvular murmurs

Among the many advantages that Crataegus offers, a gradual decrease until its total disappearance has been shown in cases of valvular murmurs, as well as intense sighing and difficult breathing. Its consumption is excellent against aging, to such an extent that experts affirm that its use improves life expectancy in elderly patients with conditions such as arteriosclerosis or angina pectoris.

Other uses

Good results have been observed in the treatment of diabetes insipidus, especially in children, a condition difficult to control. Young women who suffer from mitral regurgitation, especially if rheumatic ailments are present, can heal with appropriate care and proper therapy with the use of the plant.

Cardiovascular diseases can be potentially serious, requiring medical consultation and monitoring. Hence, it should be understood that the information contained in this article is for informational purposes only. Young hawthorn leaves are used for human consumption in the preparation of salads along with other ingredients. Also its fruits are edible. Due to its farinaceous texture and flavor, the coating is recommended in the preparation of puree. Hawthorn fruits contain nutrients such as sugars, pectin, and various vitamins, especially vitamin C.

Methods of administration and dosage

Normally, it must be administered for prolonged periods because its action to understand and adapt to the physiological processes of the body is slow. Hence, it is observed that the results take time to manifest themselves, although they are lasting. There is talk of results that can be observed from approximately 6 or 9 weeks.

As an infusion or hot tea, you can pour two teaspoons of its dried flowers, leaves or berries into a cup of water, once it has boiled it is strained. They can be taken from two to four cups a day. As an infusion or cold tea, two teaspoons of dried berries are poured into a cup of cold water, steeped for approximately 12 hours and finally strained. They can also be taken from two to four cups per day.

Finally, with the tincture prepared with the leaves, flowers or berries of the plant, take 30 to 40 drops, three times a day during the treatment period, then twice a day to preserve the result obtained.

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