awthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) is a thorny shrub plant of the Rosaceae family, especially known and used for the care of the circulatory system thanks to its marked cardioprotective and antioxidant activity, but, thanks to its benefits for sleep is increasingly used to combat insomnia.
The leaves and flowers contain a mixture of different flavonoids, powerful antioxidants and “scavengers” of free radicals, useful in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and to fight cholesterol.
These active ingredients give a marked cardioprotective activity, because they induce the dilatation of the coronary arteries that they bring blood to the heart, thus improving the flow of blood with a consequent reduction in blood pressure. Its use is therefore indicated in cases of hypertension, mild or moderate, especially if of nervous origin.
It has cardiotonic properties due to the presence of proanthocyanidols, which act on the one hand on strengthening the contractile force of the heart; and on the other, on the alterations of cardiac function.
These components reduce tachycardia, extrasystole and arrhythmias and prevent complications in elderly patients, at risk of angina pectoris or infarction, suffering from flue or pneumonia. The vitexin, active ingredient present in hawthorn, acts as a spasmolytic, sedative and natural anxiolytic.
This sedative and relaxing action is especially useful in very nervous patients, in which it reduces emotionality, in states of anxiety, agitation, distress, and in case of insomnia.
How to use it
o try the hawthorn’s sleep benefits, simply prepare the infusions.
Pour into a cup of boiling water and add a tablespoon of chopped hawthorn flowers. Strain and leave to rest for 15 minutes before drinking. The advice is not to exceed the dose of 3 cups a day.
40 drops in a little water three times a day away from meals and in the evening before going to bed.
Curiosities and Historical background
The scientific name oxyacantha derives from greek oxys which means “toe” and akantha which means “thorn”. Considered auspicious by the Greeks, the hawthorn was used to adorn the altars during the wedding ceremonies.
The Romans called it “alba spina” (white thorn) and dedicated it to the goddess Flora, who reigned over the month of May, the month of purification and chastity, symbolized precisely by the white of the flowers. For this reason weddings were not celebrated during this month and if it was necessary to do them, five hawthorn torches were lit in honor of the goddess, to appease her anger.
The Celts also dedicated the plant to the period from mid-May to mid-June.
In the Middle Ages, in that same month, a Hawthorn tree was placed in the town square, decorated and danced around it to give prosperity to the village and to drive away the evil eye and misfortune.