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 Herbal Materia Medica: Witch Hazel  
Hamamelis virginiana


Habitat: Indigenous to N. America and Canada.

Collection: The leaves can be gathered throughout the summer and driedquickly to ensure that they do not become discoloured. The bark is gathered inthe spring after sprouting.

Part Used: Bark or leaves.

Constituents: Leaves: * Tannins, composed mainly of gallotannins withsome condensed catechins and proanthocyanin..

* Miscellaneous; flavonoids; quercitin, kaempferol, astragalin, myricitrin, volatile oil containing hexenol, n-hexen-2-al, [[alpha]]- and[[beta]]-ionones

Bark: * Tannins, mainly the [[alpha]]-, [[beta]]-and[[gamma]]- hamamelitannins, with some condensed tannins such asd-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 ofdistilled Witch Hazel. It is the most applicable and easy to use astringent forcommon usage. As with all astringents, this herb may be used wherever there hasbeen bleeding, both internally or externally. It is especially useful inthe easing of haemorrhoids. It has a deserved reputation in thetreatment of bruises and inflamed swellings, also withvaricose veins. Witch Hazel will control diarrhoea and aid in theeasing of dysentary.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "mild, diffusive, cleansingastringent. Passive haemorrhages of pulmonary, gastro-intestinal, and genitalorgans. Bruised soreness of affected parts, especially from relaxed conditions.Venous congestion, atony or laxity." They give the following specificindications: Diarrhoea and dysentary. Protruding,bleeding haemorrhoids. Vulval bruising after childbirth.Vaginal laxity with tenderness, inflamed sore throat, varicoseveins, 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 andexposure, relaxed mucous membranes dark blue membranes from venous stasis,veins dilated, relaxed, enlarged, and full - varicoses." In addition herecommends it for the following patholgies: sore throat, tonsillitis,diptheria, acute catarrh, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, prolapse of the bowel,leucorrhoea, sore breasts.

Combinations: For the easing of haemorrhoids it will combine well withPilewort.

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto lteaspoonful of the dried leaves and let infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This shouldbe drunk three times a day.

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

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

© David L. Hoffman, M.N.I.M.H.

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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