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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

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.