Hawthorne berry as herbal medicine for healing your heart

Hawthorne berry as herbal medicine

Many years ago I planted a hawthorn berry tree (aka hawthorne berry) in my garden. I'm glad I got started way back then! It took a decade for this little tree to mature to where it is producing berries—just in time to support my heart through my menopausal transition.

Hawthorn berries reach peak potency as they ripen to deep red in the fall. That’s the prime time to harvest the berries for your hawthorn herbal medicine tincture.

Hawthorn trees—known by the Latin genus name, Crataegus—have a long history of medicinal use. In old Europe, they were often grown in hedges! The Hawthorne surname in olden times denoted someone who lived by a bush or hedge of hawthorn. Traditionally, both “hawthorne” and “hawthorn” have been used to refer to this medicinal bush prized for its berries—the haw—surrounded by thorns.

I’d love to share my favorite article on the subject, which is by Jessica Godino. She and I co-founded Red Moon Herbs in 1994, as young herbalists who had apprenticed with Susun Weed together. Wise woman herbalist Jessica Godino writes:

Hawthorn herb—little rose for the heart

When most of us think of love, the flower that comes to mind is Rose. However, the noble Rose has a humble cousin that is such a gentle yet powerful tonic for the heart that perhaps it should be the symbol of love.

This little-known relative is Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), a small tree that loves sunny and windy places. It has beautiful pinkish flowers in the spring that turn into dusky red berries by fall.

Unfortunately, no one will ever send you a bouquet of Hawthorn because it is covered in thorns even bigger than the ones on roses!

Hawthorn is well known to herbalists as a restorative tonic for the heart, one that is able to revitalize the whole cardiovascular system. It has been used to regulate heart rhythm in cases of arrhythmia and tachycardia, and helps to slowly rebuild the heart in cases of degenerative heart disease.

It is also a wonderful tonic for people with high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis. By helping to dilate the arteries it can improve blood flow to all parts of the body. This little shrub is a good friend to people with poor circulation.

Herbal healing for a broken heart

Hawthorn can heal not only the physical heart, but the emotional one as well. It can open your heart to give and receive more love. Who couldn’t use a little of that?! This thorny yet gentle-acting plant also helps to soothe a heart filled with sorrow, regret, or grief.

Taking hawthorn herbal medicine

Hawthorn is a very safe plant with no known toxicity. Of course, if you decide to work with this herb, it is always wise to consult with a knowledgeable practitioner. The flowers, leaves and berries of Hawthorn are all used to make medicine. It is best taken as an alcohol extract or strong tea. A typical dosage would be 30 drops of extract three times per day, or as much tea as you enjoy drinking. The effects of Hawthorn build over time, so plan to take it for at least two to six months for optimum results. So next time your heart needs some nurturing, remember this "little rose!"

~Jessica Godino

Having got tangled up in some thorny relationships in my early years, the sweetness of secure bond with my beloved is that much more to savor. Like growing that hawthorn tree, the journey towards healing took time. Sometimes I wondered if I would ever move beyond the heartache. With patience and persistence, that deep and hard work has provided manyfold harvests (Read more on healing heartache and heartbreak here).

For deep heart healing, the combination of hawthorn’s physical support with self-reflective emotional work is a powerful medicinal prescription.

Making hawthorn berry herbal medicine tincture

To make your own hawthorn berry tincture, follow these easy steps:

  1. Fill a jar to the top with the hawthorn berries, packed tight
  2. Fill the jar to the top again, with 100-proof vodka, and cap it
  3. Label the jar—eg, Hawthorn berry, 100 pf vodka, 12/3/2020
  4. Top off the liquid level the next day
  5. Leave your tincture brewing on your counter for six weeks
  6. Strain out the plant material

Now you have your own homemade hawthorn herbal medicine tincture! Store the tincture in a cabinet out of direct sunlight (or an amber bottle); potency will be retained for at least 3-5 years.

I have a handy reference chart you’re welcome to grab for free, with the how’s and why’s of the various herbal preparations: Herbal Medicine Making Chart.


Healing the heart is a process whether you seek healing of a physical nature or emotional nature (or both!). Just as time is required for hawthorn berry tincture to address the physical heart, patience and consistency are needed when tending to heartbreak. The journey of healing heartaches can be much like the practice of harvesting hawthorn berry—getting to the sweet tender treat requires care and diligence.

I find the last harvests of the season during the waning days of autumn to be especially magical. This is a time to take a deep breath, reflect back on your connection with the plants and those whom you love, and give gratitude for your harvests of the growing season. What is your heart’s harvest this year?


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Corinna Woodseasoned teacher and mentor along the Wise Woman path–from herbs to self love

I've been teaching earth-based, woman-centered holistic healing for 30 years. Today, I offer tools to ground you in your own innate wisdom, discernment, and self-understanding. 

I invite you to explore my blog articles, free resources, and online courses—made just for wonderful women like you.
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