There are many legends of the origin of hawthorn and since the olden times it is popular for healing effects and fairness. There different names of hawthorn like haw and whitethorn. For its spikes it is also known as cock-spur hawthorn. Hawthorn had a special significance in the ancient times. In Greek myths, hawthorn was associated with Hymen the god of family and marriage ceremonies. Wedding women decorated their heads with hawthorn chaplets. The King of England Richard III found his crown in a hawthorn bush and since then it became his emblem.
There are many popular beliefs connected with this herb. Some peoples believed that the herb is magical due to its spiked springs. It is believed that hawthorn protects from evil spirits. For many centuries, traditional practioners had been treating different diseases with hawthorn-based potions. They kept potion formulas secret. And only in the 17th century therapeutic application of hawthorn became common. The herb was cultivated in pharmaceutical gardens and peasants had to gather haw berries as a feudal homage. Haw berries contain organic acids (caffeic, catabolic, tartaric, citric), tannins, saponins, starch, essential oils, pectin, flavonoids, sorbite, fructose and seed fat. The berries also contain vitamins E, C, A and B-Carotene. Despite various ingredients, haw berries low calories- about 52 kkcal per 100 g.
Hawthorn berries contain ursolic acid that is quite rare in the nature, thus it is very valuable to the body. This acid has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, vasodilatory, cardiokinetic, hepatoprotective and antitumoral actions. Moreover, it is a good diuretic agent and it is an ingredient of the skin collagen, which stimulates the cells’ regeneration. Many people associate hawthorn with cardiacs. It is no surprise as the ingredients of hawthorn tone heart muscles, improve the blood circulation and the performance of nervous system. That is why this herb aids in angioneurosis, hyperthyreosis, hypertension, polycarpic, cardiac infarction, insomnia, epilepsy, headaches.
Moreover, hawthorn has a positive influence on the liver; it has a cholagogic effect; aids in allergies; lowers the blood sugar level and cholesterol; boosts metabolic processes; normalizes the activity of the thyroid; aids in atherosclerosis and rheumatism. Hawthorn berries improve the functions of milk glands. The berries aid in fever and herpetic fever.
Peoples of various countries cure different diseases with hawthorn. For example, in Western Europe, hawthorn is prescribed to aid in kidney stone disease, quinsy, menorrhagia, dysentery. In Belarus, it is prescribed in case of stomach ulcer, digestive diseases, asthma and dermatomycosis. In Siberian part of Russia, it aids in gynecological disorders. In the recent time, hawthorn antineoplastic actions are being under research. It is discovered that hawthorn is effective against leukaemia.
Contraindications. Hawthorn is contraindicated to the pregnant; in case of idiocrasy; breast-feeding.