(NaturalNews) Hawthorn (Crataegus Laevigata) belongs to the Rose family of Rosaceae. Also known as Haw, Whitethorn, Haybush and Mayflower, this pretty plant grows to between seven and nine metres tall. This rather spiny bush boasts clusters of white flowers, which have a strong scent. These are normally referred to as Mayflowers or May Blossoms. This plant has been used medicinally for over two thousand years to help alleviate the signs and symptoms of milder forms of congestive heart failure.
The medicinal extracts from this plant are derived from the berries, leaves and flowers, which all contain substantial amounts of flavonoids and oligomeric procyanidins (OPC's). Hawthorn is considered one of nature's most potent heart tonics. It can help improve the heart's pumping ability, dilate blood vessels and increase energy supply. This extract can also help speed up recovery after a heart attack by strengthening the heart muscle and improving oxygen flow to the heart. It is able to block the enzymes which cause the heart muscle to weaken.
Hawthorn is also able to improve blood circulation, reduce cholesterol levels and regulate blood pressure. It is also able to preserve collagen, which helps to form connective tissue. This is highly beneficial to those suffering from arthritis or other similar joint conditions. It can help protect against damage caused by free radicals. Owing to its calming effect, Hawthorn works well for those suffering from insomnia. It can also help regulate menstrual flow, and it is also used to treat kidney stones.
Those wishing to use Hawthorn extract or supplements should be aware that it needs to be taken for between four to eight weeks before it starts to take effect. Optimum dosage is between 600mg and 1800mg two to three times daily if one is using the capsule extract. When used as flowers or leaves, the dosage should be around 4.5g to 6g a day. It is not recommended for pregnant women to use Hawthorn as it may affect the uterus. Although no adverse side effects have been reported, excessive use of Hawthorn in any form can result in dizziness, fatigue, skin rashes, cardiac arrhythmias, nausea, sweating, hypotension and tremors.
About the author: Shona Botes blogs about natural remedies, green living, photography, free thinking and personal finance. She spends her spare time engaged in photography, cycling, nature and tending to her organic food garden.