Witch Hazel Leaf
Veterinarian Reviewed on June 15, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
With Hazel Leaf
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a flowering shrub which is native in the Eastern United States. This shrub has shiny green leaves with a dull gray underside. Witch Hazel leaf is commonly used in herbal preparations.
Witch hazel has small and threadlike yellow or red flowers. The Witch Hazel fruit is just a centimeter long with a single glossy black seed.
History and Origin
The name Witch Hazel means “together with fruit” and this is because the fruit and the flowers appear together in a particular flowering year. This is very rare in flowering shrubs and trees.
The name Witch Hazel has its origins in Old English language which means ‘bendable’. There are other words that also used to replace Witch Hazel such as Wych Elm and Ulmus glabra.
Witch Hazel leaf was used in ancient times as a tincture and poultice to relieve many skin disorders and skin infections. This herbal remedy was commonly used externally together with the bark of the Witch Hazel plant.
In more modern times, the Witch Hazel leaf is used as a treatment for gastrointestinal illnesses in children. A tea that is made out of the Witch Hazel leaf is made to cure diarrhea, stomach upset, gas and bloating which is very common in children.
Witch Hazel leaf also contains Vitamin C and other chemicals that can promote wound healing and has anti inflammatory effects as well. This makes Witch Hazel leaf effective in the treatment of common boils, wounds, skin irritation and allergies. The anti inflammatory properties of this herbal remedy can significantly reduce swelling in skin infections and can also reduce the size and severity of hemorrhoids. The ability of Witch Hazel leaf to shrink blood vessels to a more normal size is also beneficial in the treatment of hemorrhoids and other skin infections. This is why this herb is one of the main ingredients in the many anti hemorrhoid treatments available on the market today.
The extracts of the bark and Witch Hazel leaves are also the main ingredients in many skin care products like after shaves, lotions and creams. It is also very useful in treating insect bites and for severe itching. This is so because the Witch Hazel plant has astringent properties.
Witch Hazel leaf teas and decoctions are contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding women. There is little evidence to support the effectiveness of Witch Hazel leaf preparations to very young children so it is also contraindicated as well.
If you would like to use Witch Hazel leaf oral preparations for your illness, it is best to consult with your herbalist or your naturopathic doctor regarding the correct dosage and possible side effects or possible adverse effects to your existing medications and condition. Applying Witch Hazel leaf skin preparations has no side effects but if you have highly sensitive skin, it is best to apply a small amount of Witch Hazel leaf preparations like creams and lotions on your forearm and watch for any allergic reactions before proceeding. Always use herbal remedies and topical preparations with care and never use it for any other purpose unless indicated on the product label.
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