This section is from the book "Botanic Drugs Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics", by Thomas S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: Botanic Drugs, Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Hawthorne Berries, Crataegus oxyacantha. Homeopathic books of some years ago classed Crataegus as a drug akin to strophanthus when used in doses of 1 to 15 drops of the tincture; and it was recommended in chronic cardiac lesions and general anasarca, rather large doses being given in dyspnea. Later, the drug was recommended by Eclectic authorities in angina pectoris and precordial oppression. Some very fantastic literature has appeared relative to this drug. An examination of this literature has brought to light nothing sufficiently critical to be of much value.
Yet, notwithstanding the fact that there is no critical and exact data available upon Crataegus oxyacantha, many empirically based remedies have justified themselves and it is only fair to refer to an article by Dr. J. A. Hofheimer in American Medicine. This paper is upon the use of Crataegus in angina pectoris, which is believed by Dr. Hofheimer to be essentially a cramp of the cardiac muscular fibers, with a neurotic element as the exciting cause. Advocating nitroglycerine for the immediate relief of the attacks, he believes with Dr. Thos. F. Reilly that Crataegus is a mild and non-poisonous cardiac remedy with antispasmodic properties that renders it a valuable interval drug in angina pectoris when given in double the dosage of digitalis. He believes it to be more of a sedative and regulator of the heart than a stimulant; a statement vastly more probable and rational than that this non-toxic agent is a cardiac stimulant.
Physicians trying this drug should be sure the preparation used is made from the English hawthorn, Crataegus oxyacantha, and not from the American species, Crataegus mollis.
My own tests of the drug have not been at all conclusive. If a dose of any appreciable size is given it induces nausea, and small doses do not seem to exert any appreciable influence upon clinically definite cardiac lesions. In a few minor cases - pseudo-angina and functional disturbances - I thought there was an effect in doses of 5 to 10 drops fl. The drug may be worthy of further study; but nothing very definite has developed thus far. My own trials have been too few to warrant positive opinion on my part.