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You are viewing: Homeopathics  - Crataegus - Contemporary - Level 3
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to Homeopathics - Crataegus - Level 2

Crataegus

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Author
Dr Peter Darashah

Crataegus

History & Background
The name Crataegus oxyacantha is from the Greek kratos (hard), oxus (sharp) and akantha (thorn).and has a long history of secular use.

  • The tree was originally regarded as sacred probably from a tradition that it furnished the Crown of Thorns. As a result it was considered as a favourable portent. Leaves were said to ensure prosperity, safe shelter and provide protection to the home from damaging storms, lightening strikes as well from storms at sea in the case of mariners. The tree also provided a physical type of protection when planted as a hedge on land boundaries. The German name of Hagedorn, meaning Hedgethorn, confirms this practice from a very early period. The name Quickset is also another reference to its employment as a living hedge.
    Conversely the leaves had the reputation to repel witchcraft spells and the Romans also believed that if hawthorn was placed in baby's cradles it would ward off evil spirits. Additionally Crataegus was often incorporated into spells and rituals for fertility especially by the Greeks and Romans who used the blossoms in wedding decorations to increase fertility and bring happiness. Bridal attendants wore blossoms while the bride carried an entire bough. Torches carried in wedding processions were made of hawthorn. Women believed that hawthorn would keep then looking youthful.

  • The herbal use of Hawthorn goes back to time immemorial and in keeping with the secular theme of protection its medicinal application follows suit in that its action is centred on the protector of wellbeing ie the heart. Its potent vasodilatory action opens up the arteries, promotes circulation and improves blood supply to all the general tissues in the body. The writings of herbalists such as Culpeper, Gerard and K'Eogh spanning the 16th to 18th centuries have listed additionally the various uses of the herb in herbal literature including its use as a solvent for kidney and bladder stones, as a diuretic and astringent, as well as a tonic for sore throats, dropsy, and digestive conditions.

Biochemistry & Action
Considerable scientific research has been conducted on the Hawthorn.  The bioflavonoid content (known as oligomeric procyanidins - or the dehydrocatechins). are considered to be the main source of these beneficial effect which results in the relaxation and dilation of the arteries - the coronary arteries in particular. The bioflavonoid activity is what increases the actual flow of blood to the muscles of the heart, leading to the reduction of the physical symptoms of angina.  A potent and efficient antioxidant action is also displayed by these bioflavonoids resulting in the secondary effect of the prevention or reduction in the rate of degeneration of blood vessels.
Other constituents of the Hawthorn considered to have beneficial effects are:

  • Amines
  • Amyddalin
  • Coumarin (an anti-coagulant)
  • Crataegin (alkaloid contained in the bark)
  • Glycosides
  • Tannins
  • Triterpenoid saponins

Main Uses & Applications

  1. The prime action of Crataegus is the relaxation and dilation of blood vessels by a reduction of peripheral resistance particularly those of the coronary vessels which in turn is responsible for bringing about a reduction in the sudden attacks of angina. Hawthorn's wide ranging biochemistry inhibit natural enzyme responses of the blood vessels to angiotensin converting enzymes (ACE) which are responsible for constricting blood vessels. The various chemical compounds of Crataegus override these enzymes and keep the blood vessel open thus improving circulation. This is vital in a situation where blood vessels lack tone and have become inert.  In such conditions an enzyme that shuts down blood vessels further restricts what little available space there is for blood circulation and only serves to exacerbate an already critical situation.
  2. The secondary action that the hawthorn induces is apparently a direct and favorable effect on the functioning of the heart. Such action becomes very evident in cases of heart damage sustained by a patient. This effect is brought about by yet other chemical components of the Hawthorn which help to re-elasticate the blood vessel walls which in turn assists their peristaltic and flexing action The result is the promotion of efficient muscular heart function together with enhanced blood flow and circulation throughout the entire body.
  3. As a result of its extremely wide scope of action the third application for Craetegus is that of a general heart tonic. Hawthorn is a good prophylactic for people with a family history of
  • Age related heart muscle weakness
  • Angina pectoris
  • Arterial tension 
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Congestive heart disease
  • Cardiac convalescence
  • Cardiac oedema
  • Fatty heart syndrome
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Heart attack
  • Heat failure
  • Heart failure and debility
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Irregular pulse
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle (cardiac myocarditis)
  • Nervous heart complaints
  • Palpitations
  • Poor blood supply
  • Poor heart metabolism
  • Rapid heart beat 
  • Stress related heart complaints
  • Thickening of the heart muscle (hypertrophy)
  • Valvular insufficiency
  • Weak heart contractions

Other Uses & Applications 

  • Brain & cognitive impairment
  • Cholesterol support by way of cleaning up arteries.
  • Circulatory complaints
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Emotional tension
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Genitourinary conditions
  • Inflammation of blood vessels
  • Insomnia
  • Intermittent claudication
  • Poor digestion
  • Swollen Ankles
  • Thrombophlebitis
  • Varicose veins
  • In the Chinese system of medication, the herb is often suggested for the treatment of problems associated with the digestive system. It is believed to help ease digestion of meat and greasy foods, and the hawthorn is also given in cases of stomach pain, abdominal distension, and also in cases of diarrhea.
  • Fyfe's (Eclectic) Materia Medica mentions the indications for giving Crataegus to be "cardiac neuralgia, palpitation, intermittent pulse with increased rate, extreme dyspnea on slight exertion, u8sually accompanied with pain in the cardiac region, valvular deficiency, with or without enlargement. Crataegus is a remedy of great power in both functional and organic wrongs of the heart. In angina pectoris and in valvular deficiencies most wonderful result have been obtained from its exhibition after failure of the best known heart remedies".

Dosage & Duration
Most investigational work has been done using tincture at 5-20 drops/day.
However potentised preparations up to 30C have been successfully reported.
The use of high potencies is rarely employed as the remedy is primarily used empirically without the consideration of mental symptomology.

The remedy is slow acting with its beneficial effects occurring only slowly over a period of time. Consequently Crataegus should be taken over a span of several months in order for it to manifest its full symptomatic and tonic effect. Although it differs in this respect from other well known heart remedies (ie Stroph; Digit; Iber; Naja; Cact) its effectiveness is usually more permanent.

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Hawthorn flower
Crataegus (Hawthorn) flower

Crataegus (Hawthorn) berry
Crataegus (Hawthorn) berry 

Crataegus (HJawthorn) tree
Crategus (Hawthorn)
tree

Kingdom: Plant
Latin Name: Crataegus oxyacanthus
Common Name: Hawthorn  
Homeopahtic: Crataegus  

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