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Crataegus Oxyacantha

NAT. ORD., Pomaceae.

COMMON NAME, White or May Thorn. English Hawthorn.

PREPARATION.--The fresh berries are pounded to a pulp and macerated in
two times their weight of alcohol.

(The The New York Medical Journal, October 10, 1896,
published a communication from Dr. M. C. Jennings, under
the heading "Crataegus Oxyacantha in the treatment of
Heart Disease," of which the following is the substance):

Dr. Green, of Ennis, Ireland, for many years had a reputation for the
cure of heart disease that caused patients to flock to him from all
parts of the United Kingdom. He cured the most of them and amassed
considerable wealth by means of his secret, for, contrary to the code,
he, though a physician in good standing, refused to reveal the remedy to
his professional brethren. After his death, about two years ago, his
daughter, a Mrs. Graham, revealed the name of the remedy her father had
used so successfully. It is Crataegus oxyacantha. So much for the
history of the remedy. Dr. Jennings procured for himself some of the
remedy, and his experience with it explains Dr. Green's national
reputation. He writes:

"Case I was that of a Mr. B., aged seventy-three years. I found him
gasping for breath when I entered the room, with a pulse-rate of 158 and
very feeble; great oedema of lower limbs and abdomen. A more desperate
case could hardly be found. I gave him fifteen drops of Crataegus in
half a wineglass of water. In fifteen minutes the pulse beat was 126 and
stronger, and breathing was not so labored. In twenty-five minutes pulse
beat 110 and the force was still increasing, breathing much easier. He
now got ten drops in same quantity of water, and in one hour from the
time I entered the house he was, for the first time in ten days, able to
lie horizontally on the bed. I made an examination of the heart and
found mitral regurgitation from valvular deficiency, with great
enlargement. For the oedema I prescribed Hydrargyrum cum creta,
Squill and Digitalis. He received ten drops four times a day of the
Crataegus and was permitted to use some light beer, to which he had
become accustomed at meal time. He made a rapid and apparently full
recovery until, in three months, he felt as well as any man of his age
in Chicago. He occasionally, particularly in the change of weather,
takes some of the Crataegus which, he says, quickly stops shortness of
breath or pain in the heart. His father and a brother died of heart

Another case was that of a young woman, who, when Dr. Jennings appeared
in response to the summons, was said to be dead. "I went in and found
that she was not quite dead, though apparently so. I put five or six
drops of Nitrite of amyl to her nose, and alternately pressing and
relaxing the chest, so as to imitate natural breathing, I soon had her
able to open her eyes and speak. I gave her hypodermically ten drops,
and in less than half an hour she was able to talk and describe her
feelings. An examination revealed a painfully anaemic condition of the
patient, but without any discoverable lesions of the heart, except
functional." Under Crataegus she made a good recovery. "Her heart
trouble, though very dangerous, was only functional, and resulted from
want of proper assimilation of the food, due chiefly to the dyspeptic
state and dysentery."

Another case was that of a woman who "was suffering from compensatory
enlargement of the heart from mitral insufficiency," was taken with
dyspnoea when Dr. Jennings was called and was nearly dead. Under
Crataegus and some other indicated remedies she made an excellent
recovery. "In a letter from her, three months afterward, she said she
was feeling well, but that she would not feel fully secure without some
of the Crataegus."

"The forty other cases ran courses somewhat similar to the three
cited--all having been apparently cured. Yet I am not satisfied beyond a
doubt, that any of those patients were completely cured except those
whose trouble of the heart were functional, like the second case cited.
And it is possible and even probable that in weather of a heavy
atmosphere or when it is surcharged with electricity, or if the patient
be subjected to great excitement or sudden or violent commotion or
exercise he may suffer again therewith. That the medicine has a
remarkable influence on the diseased heart must, I think, be admitted.
From experiments on dogs and cats made by myself, it appears to
influence the vagi and cardio inhibitory centres, and diminishes the
pulse rate, increases the intraventricular pressure, and thus filling
the heart with blood causes retardation of the beat and an equilibrium
between the general blood pressure and force of the beat. Cardiac
impulse, after a few days' use of the Crataegus, is greatly
strengthened and yields that low, soft tone so characteristic of the
first sound, as shown by the cardiograph. The entire central nervous
system seems to be influenced favorably by its use; the appetite
increases and assimilation and nutrition improve, showing an influence
over the sympathetic and the solar plexus. Also a sense of quietude and
well-being rests on the patient, and he who before its use was cross,
melancholic and irritable, after a few days of its use shows marked
signs of improvement in his mental state. I doubt if it is indicated in
fatty enlargement. The dose which I have found to be the most available
is from ten to fifteen drops after meals or food. If taken before food
it may, in very susceptible patients, cause nausea. I find also that
after its use for a month it may be well to discontinue for a week or
two, when it should be renewed for another month or so. Usually three
months seem to be the proper time for actual treatment, and after that
only at such times as a warning pain of the heart or dyspnoea may
point out.

(The Kansas City Medical Journal, 1898, contained a
paper on the remedy, by Dr. Joseph Clements, from which
the following pertinent extracts are taken):

"About twelve years ago I was suddenly seized with terrible pain in the
left breast; it extended over the entire region of the heart and down
the brachial plexus of the left arm as far as the wrist. I pressed my
hands over my heart and seemed unable to move. My lips blenched, my eyes
rolled in a paroxysm of agony; the most fearful sense of impending
calamity oppressed me and I seemed to expect death, or something worse,
to fall upon and overwhelm me. The attack lasted a short time and then
began to subside, and soon I was myself again, but feeling weak and
excited. I consulted no one; took no medicine. I did not know what to
make of it, but gradually it faded from my mind and I thought no more of
it until two years afterwards, when I had another attack, and again
nearly a year later. Each of these was very severe, like the first, and
lasted about as long and left me in about the same condition. I remember
no other seizure of importance until about three years ago, and again a
year later. These were not so terrible in the suffering involved, but
the fear, the apprehension, the awful sense of coming calamity, I think,
grew upon me. From this time on, two years ago, the attacks came
frequently, the time varying from two or three months to two or three
weeks between.

"I took some nitro-glycerine tablets and some pills of Cactus Mexicana,
but with no benefit that I could perceive. This brings me down to about
fifteen months ago. I was feeling very badly, having had several attacks
within a few weeks. My pulse was at times very rapid and weak, and
irregular and intermittent.

(About this time he got hold of Crataegus with the
following result):

"After getting my supply I began with six drops, increasing to ten before
meals and at bedtime. The results were marvellous. In twenty-four hours
my pulse showed marked improvement; in two or three weeks it became
regular and smooth and forceful. Palpitation and dyspnoea soon
entirely left me; I began to walk up and down hills without difficulty,
and a more general and buoyant sense of security and well-being has come
to stay. During the three months that I was taking the medicine, which I
did with a week's intermission several times, I had several slight
attacks, one rather hard seizure, but was relieved at once on taking ten
drops of the medicine.

(He adds that hypodermic of Morphia does not give
relief from these heart pains as quickly and as surely as
does fifteen drops of Crataegus. He also says, "of
course I consider it the most useful discovery of the
Nineteenth century." He also names a number of "the most
reputable and careful men in the profession," who are
having good results with this remedy.)

(Dr. T. C. Duncan contributes the following illustrative

"Mrs. A., a printer, came to me complaining of some pain in the side as
if it would take her life. She did not have it all the time, only at
times, usually the last of the week, when tired. I prescribed Bryonia,
then Belladonna, without prompt relief. One Saturday she came with a
severe attack, locating the pain with her right hand above and to the
left of the stomach. The pulse was strong and forcible. On careful
examination I found the heart beat below the normal, indicating
hypertrophy. I examined the spine, and to the left of the vertebra about
two inches I found a very tender spot (spinal hyperaemia). She told me
that when a girl she had several attacks, and that her own family
physician (Dr. Patchen) gave her a remedy that relieved her at once. She
had tried several physicians, among them an allopath, who gave
hypodermic injections of morphia, without relief. Hot applications
sometimes relieved.

"I now recognized that I had a case of angina pectoris, and that her
early attacks were due, I thought, to carrying her heavy brother. Now
the attacks come when she becomes tired holding her composing stick; at
the same time she became very much flurried, so much so that she had to
stop work because she was so confused.

"I now gave her a prescription for Cactus, but told her I would like to
try first a new remedy, giving her Crataegus, saturating some disks
with the tincture (B. & T.). I directed her to take two disks every hour
until relieved, and then less often. If not relieved to take the

"She returned in a week reporting that she was relieved after the first
dose of Crataegus. More, that hurried, flurried feeling had not
troubled her this week. Her face has a parchment skin, and the
expression of anxiety so significant of heart disease was certainly
relieved. I have not seen her since.

"In my proving of this drug it produced a flurried feeling due, I
thought, to the rapid action of the stimulated heart. One prover, a
nervous lady medical student, gives to-day in her report "a feeling of
quiet and calmness, mentally." This is a secondary effect, for it was
preceded by "an unusual rush of blood to the head with a confused

"One swallow does not make a summer," neither does one case establish a
remedy; but I think that as Cactus has a clearly defined therapeutic
range, so it seems that Crataegus may prove a valuable addition to our
meagre array of heart remedies.

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