Heartwarming hawthorn

There’s a gorgeous display of hawthorn berries in the hedgerows lately; a heart-lifting sight as we move towards winter. Hawthorn lifts the heart in more ways than one. The berries (and the flowers and leaves to a lesser extent) contain cardioactive glycosides that help to maximise the efficiency of the way the heart works. Minor arrhythmias can be smoothed out, and congestive heart failure can be relieved. It also supports efforts to normalise blood pressure – whether high or low – and can help with circulatory problems. The flavonoids it contains help to maintain the health of the blood vessel walls, so it’s a good preventative and/or management tool for hardened arteries and varicose veins.

Altogether, a solid support for all kinds of cardiovascular problems. And when you combine it with herbs like yarrow or limeflowers for circulation and blood pressure, horsechestnut for varicose veins, or lily of the valley (use restricted to professional practitioners only) for heart failure, it becomes even more effective.

You can make tea from flowers, leaves or berries. Right now, you can gather berries by the bucketload, and dry them for use later on. You can even make a sauce from them for strong-tasting meats like venison and pheasant; another kind of winter warmer.