Hawthorn is a shrub or a small tree, no larger than 4-5 m, with straight thorns. Various species of hawthorn are used in medicine, but the most popular is the blood red hawthorn (Crataegus sanguinea). It has strong purplish-brown shoots, on the nodes of which there are long, straight thorns 2.5-4 cm long. A tree with entire, divided or lobed leaves and shield-shaped flowers. Hawthorn fruits are apple-like drupes. On fruit-bearing shoots the leaves are 2-6cm, on non-fruit-bearing shoots 9-10cm long and 2-8cm wide.
The flowers are white (for different species, the color may vary) with a peculiar aroma, small, collected in shield clusters 4-5 cm, mostly located at the ends of the branches.
The fruits are blood red, rarely brownish and black, almost round (like small clovers), with a sour-sweet taste. Blooms in May, fruits ripen in August.
Inflorescences and fruits are used in case of heart functional disorders, flickering arrhythmia, paroxysmal tachycardia, myocarditis, atherosclerosis, cardiac obesity, vegetative dystonia. It is also used to improve blood circulation in the elderly, to treat rheumatism, insomnia, as well as in the treatment of hypertension and other diseases.
Hawthorn is also widely used in dermatology. Psoriasis, eczema, neurodermatitis, itching are treated with it. It will be especially useful in case of atypical psoriasis.
Hawthorn fruits (Crataegus fructus) and flowers (Crataegi flores) are used for medicinal purposes.
The plants are harvested only when they are fully ripe. When harvesting the fruits, one must be very careful not to damage the branches of the hawthorn tree itself. The fruits are dried in the sun, on unheated ovens or in ovens not exceeding 70C. White plaque often appears on dried fruits - it is crystallized sugar.
To prepare flower drugs, they are collected at the beginning of flowering. It is recommended to collect only the opened flowers, because if they are closed they dry very slowly and sometimes even get damaged. Dry the flowers in a shady place or in dryers not exceeding 40C.
According to the chemical composition, hawthorn fruits and flowers differ minimally and have an equivalent effect on the body.
Ursolic acid, oleic acid, Beta sitosterol, chlorogenic and caffeic acid, saponins and flavonoids, triterpenoids (corkic acid), vitamin C and carotene have been found in the fruit.
Hyperoxide, hyperinin, tannins, sorbitol, choline and fatty oils were also found.
The seeds contain the glycoside amygdalin and a fatty oil; bark- esculin glycoside (krategin).
Chlorogenic and caffeic acid are found in the leaves of the plant.
Flowers contain up to 0.16% essential oils, 9% tannins; flavonoids (acetyl vitexin, vitexin, hyperoside, quercetin, pinnatifidine), organic acids (coffee, chlorogenic, ursolic acid, oleic acid), acetylcholine, choline; micro and macro elements.
Hawthorn fruit infusion has many important properties. It has a cardiotonic, spasmolytic and moderate sedative effect, has a hypotensive effect and improves blood coagulation parameters. Hawthorn preparations have a calming effect on the central nervous system, strengthen heart muscle contraction, regulate heart function, normalize blood cholesterol levels, increase blood flow to the heart and brain.
The cardiotonic effect of the plant is mainly shown when there is heart failure. By improving the function of the heart muscle, it informs that it is prematurely fatigued.
Infusions and extracts of fruits and inflorescences have antispasmodic properties, dilating coronary and cerebral blood vessels.
These properties can be used deliberately to provide additional oxygen to the myocardium and brain neurons.
Thanks to the triterpene and flavonoid content, the plant has antispasmodic properties. Precisely because of these components, the plant has a hypotensive effect, and it also affects venous blood pressure and improves the function of vascular cells.
It is interesting that the plant has no toxic effect, so there is no need to fear that it can be used for a long time. It will not accumulate in the body.
Hawthorn preparations are recommended for elderly people, especially during the climatic period, in cases of atherosclerosis and cardiac neurosis. Only after high doses (over 100 drops, hawthorn infusion), the pulse decreases and the CNS is depressed.
The medicinal properties of this plant are used particularly widely in folk medicine. Infusions of flowers and fruits are used orally, mainly in cases of cardiac neurosis, hypertension, suffocation of heart failure, blood flow to the head ("stroke") and severe nervous disturbances.
It is understandable that the plant has been used since ancient times and has been widely studied, it has been evaluated and recognized as valuable by both official medicine and folk medicine. Mainly, the direction of its effect is on the area of the heart and its care, but it also has a number of different benign properties.