ENGLISH NAME: Witch Hazel
LATIN NAME: Hamamelis virginiana
ORIGIN: Eastern North America
HABITAT: Europe, North America
BOTANICAL INFORMATION: Hamamelis virginian (lat. Hamamelis virginiana) belongs to the Hamamelis family (lat. Hamamelidaceae). Hamamelis genus (lat. Hamamelis) includes eight natural species and four varieties.
Witch Hazel is a shrub 6-8 meters in height. The crown is loose, bark of the branches is grey-brown in color and has light-grey draws, which are directed upwards. The leaves are elliptical, pointed, dentate, asymmetrical. Their length is 7-15 cm, and the width is about 8 cm. The color of the leaves is green above and light green below until the autumn. In fall, they change color: first to two-tone, yellow-green, then to golden-yellow with a reddish shade.
Flower buds swell on the shrub branches in late September, before the leaves fall. Later, inflorescences (1-5 flowers) appear in the leaves’ axils. Each flower has four long linear petals of yellow color, twisted in the form of a spring in different directions. Together with the fruits, which look like boxes 12-14 mm long, they remain on bare branches for a month. The fruits ripen only next summer of the year. They have egg shape. Cracking when ripening, they scatter black oblong seeds within a radius of several meters.
CHEMICAL COMPASITION: The beneficial properties of Witch Hazel are explained by its balanced composition. Witch Hazel leaves and bark contain Tannins, Beta Ionone, Catechin, Copper, Flavonoids, Gallic Acid, Hamamelitannins, Iodine, Isoquercitrin, Kaempferol, Leucodelphinidin, Manganese, Myricetin, Phenol, Quercetin, Resins, Saponins, Selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin P, Volatile Oil, Zinc and other effective components.
ACTIONS: Witch Hazel possesses a wide range of actions on our body, such as astringent, alterative, anesthetic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, circulatory, haemostatic, sedative, skin toner, styptic, vasorelaxant and vulnerary.
HEALTH BENEFITS: Essential oil and astringent properties of Witch Hazel have a pronounced healing effect. That is why preparations based on this plant are widely used in traditional medicine and in homeopathy:
- Witch Hazel leaves have hemostatic properties, so they are used in the treatment of hemorrhoids and minor internal bleeding;
- Witch Hazel well affects a condition of large vessels and vascular walls. It normalizes the outflow of fluid and blood circulation, due to which it is used by homeopaths as a preventive and therapeutic agent against varicose veins;
- Its ability to decrease inflammation and its astringent components help to dry excess mucus caused by a sore throat as well as to reduce pain and swelling;
- It has astringent properties, and therefore contributes to the normalization of intestinal disorders such as diarrhea;
- Witch Hazel can be used externally to treat sores and wounds. It is also effective when curing acne and dermatitis;
- Many modern gynecologists prescribe various preparations based on Witch Hazel for rather painful and heavy menstruation;
- Witch hazel is used as a preventive measure against the onset of inflammation and for the oral cavity hygiene;
- The antioxidant qualities of Witch Hazel extract strengthen the immune system and natural anti-cancer protection.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: During clinical trials of Witch Hazel, no specific contraindications were identified.
When used correctly in standard therapeutic doses, no side effects are observed in humans. In some rare cases, slight irritation of the stomach or intestines is possible because of a large overdose of various pharmacological preparations and infusions.
There is no proven scientific information about taking Witch Hazel during pregnancy and breast-feeding, to protect yourself from potential risk do not use Hamamelis virginiana during these periods.
- Hamamelis virginiana has such popular names as "Witch Hazel" and "Witch Nut." The reason for this is its late flowering, unusual for other plants.
- The prevalence of the “Witch Nut” was much wider: in the Paleo-and Neogene periods of the Cenozoic era, Witch Hazel grew throughout Europe and North America, reaching Greenland and Svalbard.
- As a garden plant, Witch Hazel is known since 1736.
*This article is for informational purposes only. We suggest consulting a physician before using these or any other herbal supplements.