Information on Witch Hazel

Latin NameHamamelis virginiana
Part UsedLeaf, Bark
Herb FormsTincture, lotion, bulk herb, powder.
AffectsIntegumentary system, Cardiovascular system
CautionsDon't use the commercial liniment internally; it contains wood alcohol (methanol).
Botanical InfoA shrub or small tree of hardwood forests of the eastern United States in the Witch Hazel family. It is also grown as a garden shrub for its bright yellow flowers that bloom in the winter.
DescriptionWitch hazel has a beneficial effect on circulation and the venous system. As a tincture taken internally, it was considered highly effective by the Eclectics to strengthen the veins in cases of hemorrhoids or varicose veins. It is primarily used externally as a liniment or in creams for varicose veins and hemorrhoids, as well as for bruises, burns, and sprains. As an astringent, witch hazel is also used internally and externally for bleeding. It is effective for stopping bleeding, such as passive leaking of blood from vessels, but not for heavy bleeding.
A decoction of witch hazel is made by simmering 4 ounces of the bark in 4 ounces of water for 10 minutes; let steep for 15 minutes, strain, and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, after which it is best to make a new batch. Use the decoction as a wet compress on varicose veins, hemorrhoids, etc., or drink 2-4 ounces, 2-3 times a day as needed. It is also useful as a gargle for sore, inflamed throat or tonsils, and it is available in tincture form as well. The commercial liniment or the decoction is used externally for sprains, rashes, abrasions, and bruises.

Witch Hazel has a taste of ASTRINGENT, AROMATIC and a temperature of COOL.

Dosages

TypeDosage
Decoction1/4-1/2 cup 2-3 x daily
Tincture1-30 drops 2 x daily

Ailments Treated by Witch Hazel

AilmentTreatment SupportApplication
Anal fissuresvenous tonictea, tincture, capsule
Capillary fragilityastringent, vein strengtheningtincture, tea
Sprainsastringentliniment externally
Hemorrhoidsastringenttea, lotion externally
Varicose veinsastringenttea externally

References

Newall, C. et al.. 1996. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press.
Leung, A. and S. Foster. 1996. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients. New York: J. Wiley & Sons.
McGuffin, M. et al. 1997. Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Felter, H.W. and J.U. Lloyd. 1983. (1898). King's Dispensatory. Portland, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications.
Wren, R.C. 1988. Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs. Essex: C.W. Daniel Co. Ltd.
Reynolds, J., ed. 1993. Martindale, The Extra Pharmacopoeia. London: The Pharmaceutical Press.
Harper-Shove, F. 1952. Prescriber and Clinical Repertory of Medicinal Herbs. Rustington, England: Health Science Press.
Parke, Davis & Co. 1910. Manual of Therapeutics. Detroit: Parke, Davis & Co.