hawthorn berriesSince February is American Heart Health Month and the month of Valentine’s Day, we’re highlighting hawthorn berries as our bulk herb of the month! This thorny member of the rose family is thought to uplift and strengthen both the physical and emotional heart. It has had a long, rich history in folklore, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and ancient and modern Western herbalism. Today it is widely available as a dietary supplement, and you can find the dried berries in our bulk herb section.

While Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate for some, for others it may invoke pain or uncomfortable emotions. Colorado herbalist Matthew Becker suggests that hawthorn is particularly helpful for those “feeling wounded and hurt” emotionally. Hawthorn is also strongly associated with Beltane, the ancient Gaelic festival celebrating the arrival of springtime (commonly observed midway between the spring equinox and summer solstice, on May 1st).dried hawthorn berries

Many herbalists also regard hawthorn as a superior heart tonic for its ability to improve heart cell metabolism, enhance the flow of electrolytes across the cardiac cells, protect blood vessels from oxidizing damage, and enhance the function of cardiac enzymes, which can improve the heart’s ability to withstand stress. The berries are full of powerful antioxidants and are known to be potent vasodilators, helping to keep high blood pressure (hypertension) in check, a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

The tart, sweet, vibrant red hawthorn berries can be used to make jams, wines, cordials, and candies, and can be infused in alcohol, vinegar, and honey. In China, hawthorn is popular as a candy similar to “fruit roll ups,” while many southern US families traditionally make “mayhaw” jam out of the berries.

You can use bulk dried hawthorn berries to make a tincture or add to an herbal tea blend (steep 1-2 teaspoons of berries per cup of boiling water and consume up to 3 times a day). Consult a physician before use if taking medications that affect blood pressure.