What is Hawthorn, and what can it do for your cardiovascular health*?
Hawthorn, or Crataegus trees are common throughout North America, Europe and Asia – and are often referred to as “food for the heart”. This large, shrub-like tree bears bright red fruit, sometimes called “haws”. Hawthorn is May’s birth flower – learn how to harness the heart-healthy power of Hawthorn* with your make-your-own Hawthorn berry tincture!
Used for centuries in traditional medicine, Hawthorn berries have active plant compounds that promote cardiovascular health.* Hawthorn’s effects on the circulatory system and potential for regulating blood pressure are so effective that the plant’s extracts are being studied for use in westernized medicine.*
• Promotes total Cardiovascular Health*
• Supports healthy circulation and blood flow*
• Can promote healthy blood pressure*
• Encourages healthy, regular digestion*
Hawthorn can be utilized as an effective digestive stimulator as well, and the bioflavonoid compounds found in the fruit are potent antioxidants. The most effective way to harness Hawthorn’s health benefits* is by making your very own Hawthorn Tincture – here’s how:
Organic Hawthorn Tincture
• 1-2 pounds organic Hawthorn berries (picked)
• 1-2 Mason or canning jars with tight-fitting lids
• 90-100 proof alcohol -or- Apple Cider Vinegar
Tinctures are one of the most effective ways to gain the benefits of many different kinds of herbs and medicinal botanicals.* Tinctures are usually administered in very small doses, as they are traditionally created using high-proof alcohol. If you cannot or do not wish to consume alcohol, you can substitute apple cider vinegar – although be advised, this will result in a weaker tincture.*
Processing the Berries
You’ll need Hawthorn berries for this tincture. The amount of “haws” you’ll need will depend on how much tincture you want to make. Once your hawthorn tincture has steeped, it will keep indefinitely, especially if created with alcohol. But, you may not want jars and jars of berries sitting around your house!
For the first time you create your very own all-natural, organic Hawthorn tincture, you should probably opt for 1-2 pounds … the most important factor is that you have enough! Luckily, 1 pound of certified organic hawthorn berries is relatively cheap – so two pounds won’t break the bank. If you’ve got your own source of Hawthorn berries, you can use those as well.
Prepping the haws: Hawthorn berries, or “haws” often have a short, brittle stem still attached to them, even after harvest. To remove these stems, take several berries (just enough to cup inside your hand) and gently roll them between your palms. For the most part, the stems will separate by themselves. For the tough, ornery stragglers, just pick them off with your fingers. Processing the Berries: You’ll need to break the berries apart somewhat in order for the tincture to reach its maximum potency. Once you’re satisfied that all the hawthorn stems and twigs have been removed, place your haws in a blender or food processor.
Blend or process your haws until they’re slightly crushed. You do not want to truly puree your haws, only chop them up so the maximum surface area of the fruit is available to soak into the alcohol or cider once you bottle it.
NOTE – if you don’t have a blender or a food processor (or you simply want to be as organic as humanly possible) you can grind, crush or chop your hawthorn berries by hand. Take care to retain the juice – it’s where the cardio-healthy attributes of hawthorn come from, after all!
Making the Hawthorn Berry Tincture
Once your berries are de-stemmed, prepped, and crushed, you’ll need to place them into mason jars or canning jars. Make sure that your jars have tight-fitting lids, as when you seal these up, you’ll need to make sure they are both air and water tight.
Pour, scrape and/or otherwise cajole your prepared hawthorn berries into your jar or jars, depending on how much material you have. TAKE CARE to leave at least 1, probably 2 inches of head space at the top of the jar for mixing. Because you’re using alcohol or vinegar, it is not recommended to use plastic containers.
Top off the jars with 80-100 proof alcohol. Blessed Herbs uses 100% grain alcohol; however such potent spirits are sometimes either regulated or prohibited – so please check with your local liquor store or other authorities. Brandy, gin or vodka of the appropriate proof will work nicely.
Hawthorn Tincture Maturation
Make sure the berries are completely submerged. Once you screw the caps of each jar on tight, you’ll want to store them in a warm location for 4-6 weeks. Shake each jar periodically to get the most out of your hawthorn berries.
Once the allotted time has passed, strain your tincture out of the berry-alcohol mixture. Remember, it’s the liquid you’re trying to save. Discard the berries, and store your tincture in a cool, dark place. Remember that your tincture will be potent: only a few drops will suffice: about 2ml or so – just enough to fill an average-sized rubber dropper. Enjoy!