History

Hawthorn is a spiny, small tree or bush with white flowers and red berries (haws), each containing one to three nuts, depending on the species (1). Hybridization is common among individual species, making them difficult to identify (2). Hawthorn is a member of the rose family and is found in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia (3). It can reach heights of 25-30 ft and is used as a hedge (1,4). The flowers grow in clusters and bloom from April to June, and the deciduous leaves are divided into three, four, or five lobes (1). The use of hawthorn can be dated back to Dioscorides in the first century ce (5).

Uses for the herb have included high and low blood pressure, tachycardia, arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, and angina pectoris (1). Hawthorn is also purported to have spasmolytic and sedative effects (1). Native Americans used it as a diuretic for kidney and bladder disorders and to treat stomach aches, stimulate appetite, and improve circulation (4). The flowers and berries have

From Forensic Science and Medicine: Herbal Products: Toxicology and Clinical Pharmacology, Second Edition Edited by: T. S. Tracy and R. L. Kingston © Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ

astringent properties and have been used to treat sore throats in the form of haw jelly or haw marmalade (5).

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