Plants under stress begin to overproduce important ecological pigments called “polyphenols” These precious micronutrients abound in berries and other highly pigmented fruits and vegetables. The hawthorn tree is no exception.
The berries, leaves and flowers of this amazing shrub provide vital nutrients for vascular integrity and are used in tonics by herbalists as “food for the heart."
In his blog, Guido Masé writes about the mythology of this plant as a symbol of immortality. He writes:
“Picture an old clearing, now surrounded by forest on all sides, where a Hawthorn has been living for a hundred years. She's more ragged now than in her youth, but still produces abundant berries, and remembers the farmer who planted and tended her many years before. It's late September, early morning, the air is cool and smells moist but not heavy. A thrush on her way south flies in. There are asters and goldenrods in the middle of the clearing, mixed with the grasses. Field mice look up as the thrush alights on a branch.
Try to feel that whole thing. Fill in the pieces - what insects are on the plants? On the soil surface? What spiders spin between the branches? Wind and water, morning sun and damp soil, all that grows and moves and lives and dies and rots, if it all wanted to send a message to the thrush, how would it? How would the thrush hear?
The answer lies in the hawthorn berry.
And who is to say that a well-adapted human, exposed to the polyphenolic chemistry from the berries and fruits consumed, isn’t better integrated with the ecology around that person?
Hawthorn would say, “Yes!"
Hawthorn would encourage us to consume flowers, leaves and berries - thereby to live long, realize the benefits of herbal medicine, and spread the wild trees and plants for the benefit of bacteria, soil, air, and thrushes.
Maybe immortality means connecting to these wild signals. We live forever, if only for a moment.”
Starting January 21, Guido’s new 6 week online course, Natural Cardio Care: An Herbalist’s Perspective, will guide you through natural assessments and options for better cardiovascular vitality.
Guido Masé, RH(AHG) is a clinician and educator in the Western herbal tradition. He spent his childhood in Italy and has been living in Vermont since 1996. His practice interweaves clinical experience, mythology, and science. He is chief herbalist at Urban Moonshine, clinician at the Burlington Herb Clinic, faculty member and clinical supervisor at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, teacher in herbal medicine at the University of Vermont, and author of The Wild Medicine Solution and DIY Bitters. He is developing the integrative phytotherapy department at Wasso Hospital in Loliondo, Tanzania.
He has a talent for explaining complicated subjects in an interesting and understandable manner. He creates a bridge between the scientific community and the public, feeding both groups with practical information that can be used personally in the home, or with clients in a clinic.