Witch Hazel Benefits
Hamamelis, common name Witch Hazel is a small tree or large shrub with not one but two spectacular seasons: The garden species are from Asia and flower spectacularly between December and February, on naked branches. The curious flowers, like tiny bundles of crinkly ribbons, are richly fragrant. The hazel like leaves follow, and in autumn the Hamamelis again takes a leading role with leaf color.
The true witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana (from Virginia, USA) flowers in autumn and is not spectacular, but is the source of cosmetic and medicinal witch hazel water. The Asiatic species are often grafted on to strong H. virginiana rootstock. Hamamelis grows wild in east central USA and across east Asia.
From Greek, hama (together) and melon (fruit); it fruits and flowers together.
Parts Used: Bark and leaves
Plant Properties: Astringent, hemostatic, tonic and sedative
What it affects: Skin, stomach and intestines
Preparation and amount
Infusion (leaves): Steep 5 to 10 minutes. Take 6 oz. as needed.
Decoction (bark): Simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Take 3 oz. as needed, up to 2 cups daily.
Tincture (bark): Take 15 to 60 drops as needed.
Fluid extract (bark): Take 1/2 teaspoon as needed.
Powder (bark): Take 5 to 10 #0 capsules (30 to 60 grains) as needed.
Witch hazel is an excellent astringent herb and one of the best remedies for stopping excessive menstruation, hemorrhages from the lungs, stomach, uterus, and bowels. It is also very good for stopping bleeding from the lungs, uterus, and other internal organs. It is because the inner bark has sedative and hemostatic properties, that it is so good for stopping bleeding.
Internally, witch hazel is used for diarrhea, diphteria, hemorrhoids, leukorrhea, prolapsed bowel, varicose veins, and uterine problems. It is used as a vaginal douche.
Externally, witch hazel is primarily used for insect bites, varicose veins, minor burns, and to stop bleeding of wounds. It is also used for bruises, poison ivy, sore breasts, sore muscles, and tonsillitis. A poultice made from the inner bark is used for hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and eye inflammation. It is used as a retention douche in leukorrea and as a fomentation or salve for sore breasts.
Witch hazel can be used as an injection for bleeding piles, vaginal discharges, and infections. As a fomentation or poultice, it is good for bedsores, oozing skin diseases, and sore and inflamed eyes. It is good for almost any internal or external inflamed condition. Mixed with a small amount of peppermint oil, it is useful as a mouthwash, for a sore throat, or inflamed gums.
The herb poultice of witch hazel is also great for reducing surface swellings on they eyes or body. Distilled witch hazel (can be bought from a drugstore or health food store) can be applied to bruises, cuts, and sunburns . Apply it with absorbent cotton to small areas, including the eyes. Use a saturated cloth for larger applications.
Witch hazel is an outstanding herbal wash. It is a soothing astringent which strengthens blood vessels.