I haven’t shared this here yet, but recently we had a major family emergency. My sister in law delivered her first child, and then immediately went into cardiac arrest. I won’t go into all of the details, but it was extremely scary. She was diagnosed with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy- pregnancy induced heart failure. She is alive thanks to a HeartMate II pump which was placed on her heart, an LVAD which assists the left side of her heart in pumping blood.
Although heart disease runs in my husband’s side of the family, this was very much a shock to everyone.
This scare has caused me deep concern regarding my husband’s heart health. His father had heart disease, his aunt and uncle died from heart attacks, and now unfortunately his sister has heart problems to deal with. It breaks my heart that she has had to endure so much (incredibly courageously, I might add), and worries me greatly that it could be my husband next.
I could be him next.
I am determined to do my best to prevent that from ever happening.
Throughout this entire ordeal I’ve been researching natural ways to heal a heart and prevent heart attacks. Two main herbs have stuck out as the best for heart health: cayenne and hawthorn berries, with garlic close behind.
Since I haven’t done anything with cayenne for heart health yet, I’m going to focus on sharing what I am trying at the moment- which is a homemade Hawthorn Berry Tincture. I do plan on working with cayenne soon, especially since I grew (and dried) a TON of it this summer!
Regarding Hawthorn Berries, I found this excerpt on the Bulk Herb Store‘s website to be particularly interesting…
Excerpts from Left for Dead
Used regularly, hawthorn strengthens the heart muscle and the nerves to the heart.
Controlled medical studies in Europe showed that hawthorn lowered blood pressure and reduced the strain on the heart by dilating the blood vessels away from the heart, strengthened the heart muscle by increasing the metabolism of enzymes in the heart muscle, boosted the utilization of oxygen by the heart and slightly dilated the coronary vessels. Almost all the heart patients given hawthorn showed improvement. Hawthorn normalized and enhanced the function of the heart and circulatory system without side effects.
Hawthorn is a gentle heart tonic that nurtures the entire circulatory system. Hawthorn has proven effective as a treatment for functional heart disease arrhythmia, angina pectoris, age-related circulatory insufficiency, arteriosclerosis and regulation of the circulatory system.
To thwart the damaging effects of a heart attack hawthorn is the ‘ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure.’ Hawthorn improves coronary circulation by dilating the coronary arteries to bring more oxygen directly to the heart muscle and reducing the chances of heart attack or angina. Increasing the ability of the heart to function smoothly, hawthorn imparts a gentle but persistent toning action that compensates for age-related degeneration of the heart. Simply put, hawthorn helps keep the heart healthy enough to head off a heart attack.
Used in conjunction with a healthy diet and stress management, hawthorn is the perfect preventative prescription for persons who have a family history of heart disease. Considered a safe and effective long-term treatment for the gradual loss of heart function that comes with age, hawthorn is not habit forming, accumulative or toxic.
For patients who have already suffered a heart attack, studies show hawthorn speeds recovery, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the heart and forestalls any onset of coronary disease. No other herb in the plant kingdom provides the nourishing regeneration of hawthorn both before or after a heart attack.
Although hawthorn berries are used in marmalades, jellies, and as a flour additive, powdered hawthorn should be taken with the meal or shortly after eating to avoid nausea. The recommended dosage of hawthorn, whether in capsules, powder or tincture, is three times a day.
To make the tincture, steep four ounces of the berries in a pint of brandy for two weeks, then filter. Fifteen drops is considered one dose. For hawthorn tea, add one or two teaspoons of berries to hot water.
Shoshanna at the Bulk Herb Store also has this to say about Hawthorn…
Hawthorn berries are THE herb for any issues related to the heart. Only Cayenne, and Garlic come close to the positive effects that Hawthorn berries have on the function and condition of the heart. The combination of those 3 herbs is a powerhouse of a cure.
Hawthorn berries are best used in tincture combinations. However, the whole berries can be simmered for a long while and used in teas. (Click here to read more…)
I decided to make a tincture using Shoshanna’s instructions. It was easy enough, and my guinea pig… I mean husband… will be taking it every day to help keep his heart healthy.
Here’s how easy it is to make your own Hawthorn Berry Tincture for Hearth Health…
~ Whole Hawthorn Berries
~ 80 or 90 proof Brandy or Vodka
~ Amber tincture bottle
First, measure out four ounces of dried hawthorn berries. That’s about half of the (1/2 pound) bag, or 1 cup.
I want to note that when I first opened my hawthorn bag, I immediately noticed a tiny bit of white stuff on most of the berries. It looked like mold to me, so I called Bulk Herb Store and expressed my concern. The receptionist put me on hold and consulted with Shoshanna, the herbalist who runs the store. Shoshanna assured me that the white stuff I was seeing was actually a normal occurrence; it is seepage from within the berries, drying on the outside of the skin. Nothing to be concerned about.
Pour the berries into a glass container. A pint jar is convenient, because you’ll want to cover the hawthorn berries with a pint of brandy (or vodka).
Screw a lid on the jar, and store in a cool dark place for at least 2-4 weeks. Make sure you label the jar so you remember when you started it. Give the jar a good shaking every day, to help extract the juice from the berries.
Using a funnel, strain the hawthorn tincture into the tincture bottle. Store in a cool, dark place. You can store it in the fridge, but that isn’t necessary.
Shoshanna says, “The recommended daily dosage from Nutritional Herbology is 10 ml, which is approx. 2 or 2 1/2 teaspoons.”
Tinctures from dried herbs usually last 2-5 years. You don’t want to make a tincture with fresh herbs, or it might begin to spoil due to the excess water content.
For more information on making tinctures, and how to make them using glycerin instead of alcohol, check out How to Make Herbal Tinctures.
I’m excited to get my husband on a heart healthy regimen. The amazing thing about Hawthorn is that it’s a good preventative, but it has also shown the ability to heal a weak or damaged heart. If you or a loved one has heart issues, I would definitely encourage you to look into the benefits of Hawthorn Berries.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor am I licensed to offer medical advice. Everything I am sharing here is for informational purposes only.