My Heart Story - The Power of Hawthorne

By Dr. Jennifer Tufenkian, N.D.

I was lying on the floor at the back of the theatre. My friend was about to read her poem to the expectant audience. All I could think about was how my heart was erratically pounding in my chest. It had been going on for hours. I was scared, thinking "am I going to die?". Not likely, I knew enough about medicine as a second year medical student to know that. I also knew enough to know I should go and get an EKG and an echocardiogram... but our 5,000 dollar deductible kept me from going and telling my husband what was going on with me and asking him to take me to the ER. I just lay there breathing...

This is my story. In the following days I did get my heart palpitations assessed. Some heart dysrhthmias can be life threatening and do need to be checked out ASAP. I was lucky that mine were not. I was probably having a reaction to a preservative I had eaten that night at a sushi bar. My hormones and adrenals had been out of whack and this also made my heart susceptible to arrythmias. I wore a 24 hour halter monitor and found out I do get PVC's - a kind of arrythmia that is not likely to lead to major heart issues. However, they can be very disconcerting!

That spring I began making my own medicine to 'heal my heart'.

I had a series of miscarriages earlier in the year and both my physical and emotional being had been through a lot. I climbed up Mt Tabor and began to collect the flowers from a Hawthorne tree with my six-year-old son. We gently plucked flowers and leaves, thanking the trees for their gift as we carefully placed the fronds in our pillow-cases.

We took them home and placed the herbs in clean jars and covered the flowers/leaves and branches with alcohol. I like to use Brandy, but you can use whatever kind you like. We let them sit for six weeks and then strained the herb out of the alcohol and there it was, our own tincture! I took half a teaspoon a day for the next few years until I no longer needed it.

Crataegus (the Latin name for Hawthorne) has been used by herbalists for a long time. It helps with 'ailing hearts' both emotional and physical. It is good for those with heart aches from lost love or blocked hearts from deep rejection. On the physical level the flowers have been proven to improve the coronary circulation (these are the blood vessels that go to the heart muscle itself), reducing the liklehood of someone having angina. It can help hypertension indirectly by making the heart more efficient and of course it helps to lower one's heart rate and is used to regulate a number of different types of arrythmias.

Hawthorne is such a lovely herb. It is considered very safe, with no known side effects or negative interactions with other herbs or medications. It works best if taken over a long period of time and it is generally safe to do so.

Other ways to use Hawthorne: you can make a tea with the flowers and leaves, or purchase pre-made tinctures. I really like the Craetagus Gemmotherapy by UNDA at our clinic. It is made with the budlets. You can also use Hawthorne berry extract, which has slightly different healing properties than the flowers.

Of course, please consult with your doctor before initiating any treatment and if you are having irregular heart-beats and or chest pain have them assessed by your physician.

If you do find yourself in a patch of Hawthorne blooms this spring. Close your eyes and feel the plant spirit medicine. Tap into your heart and see what you can feel!

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Rules for Wildcrafting

Wildcrafting: term for collecting plants for medicine in the wild. Rules of wildcrafting are very important to keep our natural world in balance. Please respect our fellow beings!

  • Never pick the first plant you see... nor the last. This ensures we always leave some for propagation.
  • Pick so that it looks like you have not been there: ie take a bit here and there, instead of a large amount from one area
  • Gratitude: thank the plants. Some wildcrafters sing, leave strands of hair, prayers of thanks to the plants. Do what feels good to you.

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Dysrhythmia & Palpitations Causes

  • Hyperthyroid
  • High estrogen
  • Low progesterone
  • Anxiety
  • Adverse reaction to foods, supplements and/or medications
  • Low nutrient status
  • Heart Disease
  • Imbalance blood sugar (highs and/or lows)
  • Peri-menopause

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