The fruits of the witch hazel plant are woody capsules similar to hazelnuts, and when ripe, they explode noisily. Because of this, North American Indians believed that this tree was bewitched. Today, witch hazel is one of the most effective plants known to fight circulatory disorders.
Witch Hazel Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Hazelnut, pistachio, snapping hazel, spotted alder, stripped alder, tobacco wood, winterbloom.
- French: Hamamelis.
- Spanish: Hamamelis, avellano de bruja
- Environment: The witch hazel plant is native to the west coast of the United States and Canada, it is grown in Europe as an ornamental plant.
- Description: Tree of the Hamamelidaceae family, growing up to five meters high, with alternate, oval-shaped leaves, and yellow flowers of four tongue-shaped petals.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The leaves and the bark.
Healing Properties and Uses
The leaves and the bark of this plant contain several types of tannins, among which the most outstanding are hamamelitannins and flavonoids, and saponins. It has the following properties:
- Venotonic. It contracts the wall of veins, activating the blood flowing internally. Thus, it is beneficial for varicose veins, phlebitis, swollen legs, and hemorrhoids.
- Hemostatic (stops bleeding). It strengthens the walls of veins and blood capillaries, similar to that of vitamin P (rhutine). It is employed in menopausal disorders and metrorrhagia (uterine hemorrhages).
- Witch hazel for skin disorders. It activates blood flow in the skin and has cicatrizant and astringent effects. It is employed against dermatitis, eczema, dry skin, and wrinkles. It is a component of many beauty products.
- Eye sedative. The infusion or distilled water of witch hazel (pharmaceutical preparation) is used as eyedrops to wash and relax the eyes. They fight conjunctivitis caused by dust, smoke, pollutions, and the irritant action of swimming pools or seawater. These eye drops are also helpful to alleviate eye tiredness caused by any activity demanding great visual attention, such as driving or working with computers (because of their screens).
How to use Witch Hazel
- Dry extract. The standard dose is one or two grams, distributed in three daily intakes.
- Infusion, with 30-40 g of leaves and bark per liter of water. Drink two cups daily.
- Eye washings, use the same infusion as for internal use, boil it for some minutes, and strain it well so that all dust is eliminated, or instead use distilled water of witch hazel.
- Compresses, with this infusion, are applied to the afflicted skin area.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 257. Print. [witch hazel plant]