What is Witch Hazel?
Witch hazel is a deciduous bush or small tree reaching about 6 m in height found in damp woods throughout most of North America. It is a topical astringent derived from the bark and leaves of Hamamelis virginiana, the common or North American witch-hazel shrub. The leaf, bark, and twigs are used to make medicine. You may see a product called witch hazel water (Hamamelis water, distilled witch hazel extract). This is a liquid that is distilled from dried leaves, bark, and partially dormant twigs of Hamamelis virginiana. Native Americans have long recognized the medicinal properties of witch hazel and used a decoction of the boiled plant parts to treat skin irritations and tumors.
Constituents of Witch Hazel
The main constituents of the extract include tannin, gallic acid, catechins, proanthocyanins, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin), essential oil (carvacrol, eugenol, hexenol), choline, saponins, and bitters. Distilled witch hazel sold in drug stores and pharmacies typically contains no tannin.”
Alternative Names of Witch Hazal
It is also known as Cortex Hamamelis (dried bark), Folium Hamamelis (dried or fresh leaves), Hamamelis, Hamamelis water, magician’s rod, snapping hazel, spotted alder, tobacco wood, white hazel, and winter bloom.
Witch Hazel Uses
- Toner and Cleanser. This popular herbal remedy is recognized world-wide as a natural cleanser and toner
- Disease. Witch hazel is taken by mouth for diarrhea, mucus colitis, vomiting blood, coughing up blood, tuberculosis, colds, fevers, tumors, and cancer.
- Skin. Some people apply witch hazel directly to the skin for itching, pain and swelling (inflammation), eye inflammation, skin injury, mucous membrane inflammation, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, bruises, insect bites, minor burns, and other skin irritations.
- Skin Conditions. Commonly used for skin conditions, including diaper rash
- Internal use is not recommended because of the high tannin content.
- Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
- Allergic skin reactions have been reported from topical applications.