HAWTHORN BERRIES AND ARTICHOKE THE HEALTH BENEFITS
Common Name(s): English Hawthorn, Hawthorn , Haw , Haybush , Whitethorn
Scientific Name: Crataegus Laevigata (amongst others)
Hawthorn belongs to the Rose family of Rosaceae. It is a spiny bush or small tree with prolific clusters of white, strong smelling flowers (commonly known as Mayflowers or May Blossom) from April to June. It grows up to 7.5 metres tall and is a deciduous plant which means that it sheds it's leaves in autumn (fall). It has a bright red fruit which contains from one to three nuts.
The bark, berries, flowers and leaves contain hyperoside, vitexin-rahmnoside and the lactone crataeguslactone; which is a mixture of oleanic, crataegolic and ursolic acids.
Hawthorn has traditionally been used for it's medical properties since the late 19th century. It is believed to be efficacious in regulating heart rhythm, blood pressureand to aid circulation. Historically it was taken as an anti-spasmodic and a sedative. Hawthorn is also believed to be useful for treating atherosclerosis and angina pectoris.
Ten things Hawthorn Berries are reported to be effective for:
- Regulating Menstrual flow
- Relieving restlessness and insomnia and tension.
- Increasing and lowering blood pressure
- Acting as a mild diuretic
- Preventing and relieving spasms.
- Reducing Cholesterol levels
- Natural heart tonic and restorative
- Digestive Aid
- Restoring and supporting the heart
- Nourishing and supporting the body as a whole
The usual recommended dose of Hawthorn leaves and flowers is 4.5 to 6g per day. There are several Hawthorn extracts on the market in various dosages - from 160 to 900 mg per day.
Recipe for Hawthorn Berry Tincture
Wash and crush the berries, place them in an airtight jar and cover with organic glycerine. Leave in a cool dark place for 4 weeks then strain into a dark glass bottle. This should keep well for up to a year.
No serious adverse reactions have been reported from Hawthorn. However, higher doses have the potential to induce high blood pressure and drowsiness. It is considered safe for useage by people with Congestive Heart Failure.
Not recommended for usage during pregnancy or when breatfeeding. Some cases of uterine activity have been recorded.
Common Name: Globe Artichoke
Botanical Family: Asteraceae
Scientific Name: Cynar Scolymus
The artichoke is essentially a perennial thistle. It is the Globe Artichoke that is referred to here and not the Jerusalem Artichoke which is a completely different plant and is not related to the thistle family at all.
The leaves of the globe artichoke are spiny and quite long depending on the variety. It has a branched stem which can grow to over a metre in height. The branches of the stem support heads of purple or sometimes white thistle-like flowers; although the plant is seldom left to reach flowering stage even though they can be used in cooking. The leaves have a somewhat bitter flavour as they contain cyanopicrin but the mature flowers do not.
Artichokes contain acids such as caffeic acid, monocaffeoylquinic acid derivatives (chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acid), dicaffeoylquinic acid derivatives (cynarin) as well as bitter sesquiterpene lactone, cynaropicrin, flavonoids (rutin and luteolin) and sesquiterpenes (caryophyllene and b-selinene)
The Artichoke has been used as a medicine by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.
It is believed to regenerate liver tissue and so can be useful in cases of alcoholism. I certainly has diuretic properties and can increase blood circulation. Artichoke is said to aid in reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It can be used in infusion as a general if somewhat bitter tonic; it improves the appetite and aids digestion
Ten things Artichoke is reported to be effective for:
- A Diuretic
- Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) not to be confused with the similar atherosclerosis
- Increasing circulation
- Stimulating the production of bile in the Gallbladder
- Repairing the liver following alcohol abuse
- Treating Hepatitis and Jaundice
- Lowering Cholesterol Levels
- Reducing symptoms of Haitus Hernia
- Dyspepsia (Indigestion)
- Fighting Anaemia
Recommended dosage is 1 to 3 cups of a standard leaf infusion are taken daily after meals; There are standardized extract products on the market in varying strengths.
Recipe for an Artichoke Infusion
Strip the outer leaves but do not discard. Wash and chop then add to half a litre of boiling water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then strain off the liquid and drink; honey can be added to sweeten if desired. There should be sufficient for two cups which is the recommended daily amount.
None are reported for internal use. However; Dermatitis has been reported after contact with the plant and leaves.
Diabetics should use with caution and monitor blood glucose levels closely when using Artichoke preparations.
People taking Statins should have regular blood tests as Artichoke extract has been documented to lower Cholesterol.
Why link the two?
At this stage you may be wondering why I have linked these two plants. As you have probably noticed some of their effects cross over.
The reason I have put them together is due to a wonderful recipe I found on the BBC website for lowering cholesterol. It is from a series of programs called "Grow Your Own Drugs" a series with James Wong on growing and using natural remedies. I have made this and it tastes surprisingly delicious. The recipe is reproduced below:-
Artichoke and Hawthorn Bar for Healthy Cholesterol
- 4 artichokes
- 1 litre water
- 475 g hawthorn berries (if using dried hawthorn berries, first cover them with water for 24 hours to rehydrate them)
- 225 g sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Juice of 1 lime
- Chop the artichokes, place in a saucepan, cover with the water and boil for 10 minutes, or until cooked. Remove from the heat, then leave to steep for 20 minutes. Strain into a bowl.
- Heat the oven to 100C.
- Place the artichoke infusion, hawthorn berries, sugar and cinnamon stick in a pan, and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture is soft. Take out the cinnamon stick and blend in a liquidizer with the lime juice, then pour into greased, lined baking trays to a thickness of about 1 cm.
- Dry in the heated oven for 2-3 hours.(Check after 2 hours; you want it to be chewy, but not too tough.) Leave to cool, then slice into bite-sized pieces.
USE: Chew on a piece of fruit bar whenever you like.
NB If high blood cholesterol is suspected, you must see a doctor. This recipe may be used in addition to, not as a substitute for, proper medical treatment. If you are on other heart medication you shouldn't eat hawthorn berries. The remedy is not suitable if you are diabetic.
STORAGE: Keep in greaseproof paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
James has brought out a book - Grow Your Own Drugs Easy Recipes for Natural Remedies and Beauty Treats.
© Susan Bailey 2009 All Rights Reserved