Witch Hazel Bark
Veterinarian Reviewed on June 15, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
Witch Hazel Bark
Witch Hazel bark (Hamamelis virginiana) is also known as Witch Hazel, winter bloom, hazelnut, pistachio or tobacco wood. Witch Hazel is a tree that grows in North America and it is also cultivated in Europe for its medicinal properties. It is a perennial plant that grows up to 15 feet that may look gray or dark brown in color.
The Witch Hazel bark is just one of the many parts of the Witch Hazel tree that is used for herbal medications. The tree blooms from September to November every year, with the blooms looking like little yellow straps.
Witch Hazel bark is very useful in many therapeutic ways. It is mainly used in treating skin disorders and many gastrointestinal disorders as well.
History and Origin
Witch Hazel bark use was first seen being used by the native people of America. The bark was used as a poultice to treat external skin ailments and was later on used to treat various gastrointestinal diseases with the new process of distillation in the 19 century.
During ancient times, Witch Hazel bark was mainly used as a poultice to heal superficial wounds of the skin. The bark treated wounds, cuts, burns and boils. A fresh bark was cut from the Witch Hazel tree and was applied on the area of the skin, where the warmth and the moisture of the fresh bark made wounds heal faster and the inflammation to subside.
Witch Hazel bark is available as a tincture to relieve many disorders and ailments. It is used primarily as a treatment for various skin disorders like skin inflammation, scratches, sunburns and bedsores. It can also subdue the itching and skin irritation of insect bites and insect stings. The Witch Hazel bark can also relieve poison ivy stings and diaper rash. It can also be used as an eyewash to relieve infections of the eye and irritation.
Witch Hazel bark can also be made as a tea or as a warm gargle to relieve throat irritation, sore throat and infections of the oral mucosa. As a tea, it relieves diarrhea, stomach upset, stomach pain and other gastrointestinal disorders. It can also relieve the inflammation and pain of hemorrhoids.
Alcohol extracts of the Witch Hazel bark can also be used to treat varicose veins and cysts.
The Witch Hazel bark has no major side effects when used externally as a poultice or as a tincture. Only mild irritation may be seen in individuals that have sensitive skin. It is however necessary to consult a medical professional regarding the use and dosage of Witch Hazel bark supplements before use.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are cautioned in taking oral Witch Hazel bark preparations like dietary supplements and teas. It is also contraindicated in very young children and babies.
The use of Witch Hazel bark tinctures, creams or any external mode of application for any skin ailments must be done with the supervision of a medical personnel or herbalist. Clean wounds thoroughly before application. Never apply it on infected and open wounds. If skin irritation occurs, discontinue immediately and consult your doctor at once.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan