Santa Barbara Wellness Directory
Benefits of Hawthorne Berry

by Dr Eric Watts, DC - Santa Barbara Chiropractor

Hawthorne Berry may very well be the 'herb of every month'. As it seems nearly everyone should take this nearly every day. But we’ll get to that.

For purposes of this article, we shall refer to all botanicals as 'herbs'. It’s a bit incorrect, but it’s a common misconception. Perhaps clearing that subject up will be the focus of another article soon.

Herbs, in general, can be a little scary for people. . . understandably so. Herbs can be very potent medicine, or a potent poison. This isn’t always the most prevalent belief in western cultures, however. Some think of herbs as being weak, or a pale substitute for 'real' medicine, the kind that comes in an orange plastic bottle and is manufactured in a chemical laboratory. No, herbs are food, or decoration, but not the serious stuff of real medicine. Use them for a snack, or make a nice flower arrangement. But when the going gets tough. . . get me a real pill. . . right? Well, let’s take a closer look.

Socrates was certainly a western man. It’s too late to ask him now, but if we could. . . ask him if the herb hemlock was weak. Drinking a cup of it was his death sentence in Athens in 399 BC.

Ever had a run in with an herb called Toxicodendron diversilobum? The name is kind of a giveaway, at least the 'toxico' part. This is poison oak. And it’s no fun when it so much as gets its oil on your skin.

And have you ever seen all the castor bean plants growing along the railroad tracks through Santa Barbara, and even on the beach at La Conchita? It may surprise you to know that that may very well be the world’s most deadly plant. Two beans can kill you. This is the source of ricin, a poison so deadly it is used as a weapon. Sadly, there is no antidote.

Then there’s deadly nightshade, or belladonna. This one takes three berries to kill you, or one leaf. Its action is to inhibit the parasympathetic nervous system, by blocking acetylcholine (ACh). The good news here is that this is the antidote for toxins that have the opposite effect, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, the neurotoxins used in chemical warfare. You may remember the scene from the movie The Rock where Nicolas Cage’s character had to inject atropine directly into his heart to save his life from the deadly nerve gas. The atropine was derived from deadly nightshade.

Still think herbs are weak and ineffective? Sometimes modern science takes an herb and makes it better, it’s true. Willow Bark is the source of aspirin. The extract of willow bark, salicylic acid, has been in use since the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) for fever, and pain reduction, much as it is today. It was made better, though accidentally, by stabilizing it to acetylsalicylic acid. This form caused less irritation of the mouth and stomach, and is referred to as Aspirin. Aspirin is one of the most widely used medicines world wide.

There are also medicines that work better in its original form. Hawthorne berry is an herb that works better as a whole than it does when broken into its chemical components.

Hawthorne has been used for heart and circulatory conditions for centuries. Its popularity is perhaps at a low, and it is time to bring it back. It has been suggested that the crown of thorns that Jesus wore on his head was from the Hawthorne tree. That same tree has one of the hardest woods known, and the hottest burning. There is also some evidence to suggest tat the mythic Tree of Life in the Celtic traditions is a Hawthorn tree. It has been held sacred by humanity in the past, and it may be again. It just may be the only thing known to mankind to cure heart disease.

I get it that this is a very controversial statement. Conventional medical thought is that there is no cure for heart disease.

I was at a seminar primarily for MD’s and nurses one time, and the speaker was presenting the statistics on current medical treatment of heart disease. He concluded that a placebo was a statistically significantly better treatment than the current medicines used. He then went on to suggest that it might be malpractice to withhold proper treatment: a placebo. His comment was made in jest, and his real point was that the mind is a powerful healing tool. The healing power of the mind was the focus of the seminar, not heart disease, but the facts remained fresh in my mind.

Hawthorne was investigated by the pharmaceutical industry. They were looking for a compound to extract from it to use as a heart drug. The attempts were not successful, and the investigations were abandoned. It is useless to them without a patent, and you can’t patent a plant.

The good news for humanity is that a simple extract from the plant works very well as a safe effective anti inflammatory agent that has proven extremely valuable in regulating blood pressure, increasing blood flow to the heart, reducing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, reducing calcification of the vascular system. It also reportedly gives people a 'warm pleasant' sensation around the heart after taking it. It was this same extract that a Doctor in Ireland in the late 19th century used to gain notoriety for 'curing' heart disease.

There are very few contraindications to taking Hawthorne. Allergy to Hawthorne is the biggest one. There is the potential for Hawthorne to enhance the efficacy of other heart medications, so care must be taken here. If you are pregnant, or nursing, then I’d suggest not taking it.

I encourage you to read more about this wonderful herb. Here are some resources:

Hawthorne Berries Extract and Heart Health

Aspirin: Did You Know?

By the way Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine also said:
"Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases."
- Hippocrates, 460-377 BC.

About the Author

Dr. Eric Watts, Chiropractor in Santa Barbara, California Dr. Eric Watts is a native of Goleta, and a graduate of UCSB.

His Doctoral studies were done in Los Angeles, at Cleveland Chiropractic College. An avid sportsman, he believes maintaining peak performance is critical for us to enjoy our lives, our bodies, and our beautiful environment in Santa Barbara.

Phone: 805-957-4144



See Dr Watts' page in The Santa Barbara Wellness Directory

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