Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana, Hamameliadaceae)

Habitat: Indigenous to N. America and Canada.

Collection: The leaves can be gathered throughout the summer and dried quickly to ensure that they do not become discolored. The bark is gathered in the spring after sprouting.
Part Used: Bark or leaves.

Constituents: Leaves:

  • Tannins, composed mainly of gallotannins with some condensed catechins and proanthocyanin.
  • Miscellaneous; flavonoids; quercitin, kaempferol, astragalin, myricitrin, volatile oil containing hexenol, n-hexen-2-al, a- and b-ionones
  • Bark:
  • Tannins, mainly the a-, b-and g- hamamelitannins, with some condensed tannins such as d-gallocatechin, l-epigallocatechin and l-epicatechin
  • Miscellaneous; saponins, volatile oil, resin.

Actions: Astringent, anti-inflammatory.

Indications: This herb can be found in most households in the form of distilled Witch Hazel. It is the most applicable and easy to use astringent for common usage. As with all astringents, this herb may be used wherever there has been bleeding, both internally or externally. It is especially useful in the easing of hemorrhoids. It has a deserved reputation in the treatment of bruises and inflamed swellings, also with varicose veins. Witch Hazel will control diarrhea and aid in the easing of dysentery.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a mild, diffusive, cleansing astringent. Passive hemorrhages of pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and genital organs. Bruised soreness of affected parts, especially from relaxed conditions. Venous congestion, atony or laxity. They give the following specific indications: Diarrhea and dysentary. Protruding, bleeding hemorrhoids. Vulval bruising after childbirth. Vaginal laxity with tenderness, inflamed sore throat, varicose veins, sore and bloodshot eyes.

Ellingwood considered it specific for soreness of muscles, muscular aching, a bruised sensation, soreness from violent muscular exertion, soreness from bruises and strains, soreness and muscular aching from cold and exposure, relaxed mucous membranes dark blue membranes from venous stasis, veins dilated, relaxed, enlarged, and full – varicoses. In addition he recommends it for the following pathologies: sore throat, tonsillitis, diptheria, acute catarrh, diarrhea, hemorrhoids., prolapse of the bowel, leucorrhoea, sore breasts.

Combinations: For the easing of hemorrhoids. it will combine well with Pilewort.
Preparations & Dosage : Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l teaspoonful of the dried leaves and let infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Ointment: Witch Hazel can be made into an excellent ointment.

Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.

Author: Life Enthusiast Staff