My Plant Story - How Hawthorn Changed My Life


The chill of Fall brings with it a bounty of gorgeous red Hawthorn berries. Over the past five or so years some busy birds have been spreading Hawthorn seeds around my neighborhood and I'm overjoyed to see small trees thriving on nearly every block now. This is my favorite plant to work with, not only for it's beauty but also because it's the whole reason I became an herbalist and started studying alternative medicine.

In my early 20's I was a full time college student, working 3 jobs and working out nearly 5 days a week. Despite being the healthiest I'd ever been in my life I was also increasingly fatigued and seemingly incapable of recovering no matter how much I slept. Even with my active lifestyle and fairly clean diet I was rapidly gaining weight, struggling to perform basic tasks and at my worst was barely able to walk up even a few stairs without having to stop and take a break to catch my breath.

I went to countless doctors who all dismissed my symptoms without ever really asking me any questions. I was told over and over again to take birth control (though they couldn't tell me how that would help my fatigue and respiratory symptoms) while being refused basic blood work and diagnostic tests. One doctor, who didn't even look at me let alone touch me during the exam, decided I have asthma (I do not) and sent me away with an inhaler. Another told me that if I wasn't willing to take birth control then my only option was psychiatric intervention. I had nearly given up on ever getting help or feeling like myself again.

Then someone recommended the Community Clinic at my local Naturopathic Medicine School, NUNM, where I was introduced to a wonderful group of curious and passionate medical students. For the first time I was being asked thoughtful, thorough and relevant questions about my health. Not only that, they actually LISTENED to my answers. For the first time someone heard my story and validated the way I was feeling.

We tried a variety of things during my handful of visits and some helped a little but nothing really put a dent in the way I was feeling. On my final visit, the current student I was working with handed me a bottle of Hawthorne tincture on my way out and told me it was the last thing she could think of to try. I didn't know anything about the plant, or tinctures for that matter, but was willing to try anything that could provide some relief.

Within a week I felt like a whole new person. For the first time in nearly a year I could walk all the way up the stairs in my house without stopping. I was able to take deep, full breaths and actually feel the air moving through my body. The contrast was so massive that I began researching everything I could about Hawthorn and how to use plants medicinally. In awe of and overwhelmed with what I was learning I enrolled in the Herbalism and Ecosystems program at the Arctos School to gain a better understanding of plant medicine and how to use it safely.

That was just the first step in what has turned into years of recovery and evolution of my health and I moved through my 20's and into my 30's. With each challenge I've discovered new ways to heal myself and work alongside Western Medical doctors more effectively. Whenever I work with Hawthorn I'm reminded of that day in the clinic and am filled with gratitude for the student who followed her intuition and paired me with my lifelong plant ally.

Hawthorn supports healthy circulation and cardiovascular functioning. The leaf, flower, and berry have been praised over the centuries for their heart elevating properties. Believed to uplift and strengthen both the physical and emotional heart, hawthorn, as it supports healthy cardiovascular function, is also revered for ceremonial and spiritual purposes. The flavorful red berries have been used in candies, jams, jellies, wines, and cordials and are widely available in many forms as dietary supplements.

*Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.*