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Hawthorn

Hawthorn fruits have been popular since ancient Greek and Roman times, when their use was associated with the ritual of marriage. However, it was not until the Renaissance in Europe that hawthorn became valued for its medicinal properties when it was administered for digestive ailments. In the late 1800s, European doctors began to use the plant for heart disease. Haw­ thorn has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for much longer than in Europe (Djumlija, 1994). The fruit of hawthorn (C. pinnatifida Bge. var. major N.E. Br.) is mentioned in the oldest-written pharmacopoeia in China in which it is listed as being used to improve digestion and for im­ proving other maladies. Currently in China, the specially prepared dried ripe fruit is used to stimulate digestion and promote stomach function, and is administered in treatments of epigastric distention, abdominal pain, diar­ rhea, hyperlipemia, and amenorrhea due to “blood stasis” (Tu et al., 1992; Yao et al., 1996). The fruits of various species of Crataegus were used by the Indians of Canada and the United States as a food, and the roots, bark, sapwood, sap, small branches (without leaves), and spines (thorns) served medicinal purposes (Moerman, 1998).