Every Herb Has a Story: Treat Coronary Heart Disease with Hawthorn

By Staff
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Randy Buresh (Registered Nurse and Herbalist), is the co-owner and founder of Oregon’s Wild Harvest. Oregon’s Wild Harvest grows, harvests and produces their own medicinal herbal products, many of which use the herbs grown on their certified Biodynamic® and Organic farm in Sandy, Oregon.

Does it surprise you that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States? Coronary heart disease is the major cause of heart attacks. Every 25 seconds, a person has a heart attack. Every minute, one person dies from it. And, although heart disease is thought of as a “man’s” disease, it is also the leading cause of death in women aged 64 and older. 

Coronary heart disease is caused by the narrowing of the coronary arteries. These arteries originate in the aortic arch, and travel to different parts of the heart muscle to give supply fresh oxygenated blood. What causes the narrowing? Plaque from fat, cholesterol and calcium. Plaque builds up slowly, and over time, and it hardens and narrows the bloods passage ways. This is known as atherosclerosis.

Think of it this way: it’s like rust developing inside of a pipe. This build-up of rust slowly reduces the flow of water through the pipe, much like the plaque slowly reduces the flow of fresh oxygenated blood to the heart muscle. Eventually the blood supply to the heart muscle is occluded, the heart muscle is starved of oxygen, and a heart attack occurs. If the muscle does not get a fresh supply of oxygen, the muscle will die. Sound bad? It is.

Clearly, prevention is the way to go when it comes to heart (cardiovascular) disease. A healthy diet, good nutrition, exercise, and stress management are the keys to good heart health. You don’t have make it harder than it is. It’s really fairly simple: slow changes in your diet and physical fitness will work to reduce stress. It’s easier said than done, but it is possible.

No herbal supplement or any prescribed medication can take the place of a healthy diet, exercise, and stress management program. But botanicals can provide support in your efforts to improve heart and cardiovascular health. There are really no concrete divisions between botanicals and food. A proper diet that includes herbs and spices will help to provide the nutritional support your body and heart need to stay healthy. Eat fresh organic fruit and vegetables, get plenty of exercise, and you might be surprised to see how good you feel.

Hawthorn herb for heart disease: hawthorn can keep the heart healthy as you age.
Photo by AussieBotanist/Courtesy

As for herbs and supplements, hawthorn herb (Crataegus spp.) has been used for millennia as both a food and a medicine. The current use of hawthorn for heart support dates back to the 17th century. An Irish doctor is known to have secretly used it for the heart. After his death in 1894, his daughter revealed the famous cure to be a tincture of the ripe berries. Hawthorn had a brief period of use in the American clinical practice between the turn of the century and the 1930s. Initially, hawthorn berries were the principle part used medicinally, but currently it is believed that the flowers and leaves are also beneficial.

Despite the emerging studies, researchers have not been able to attribute its use to one specific constituent marker. We believe that the whole herb contains many constituents that work together – as nature intended.

*Statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or health condition. It is also recommended that patients check with their doctors before taking herbs, to ensure that there are no contraindications with prescription medications. 

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