WITCH HAZEL (Hamamelis virginiana L)

Shrub which can reach up to 7 m in height with a thin crust, brown colored outside and reddish inside. It has many gray branches. It has alternate, entire, oval, thin, slightly coriaceous but flexible, and asymmetric in the base, dentate or sinuate-toothed leaves, with pinnate venation prominent underside dark green colored on the upper surface and bright light green gray in the bottom. Unisexual, small flowers, in axillary clusters, with 4 yellow petals tongue-shaped and sprout only in autumn. Fruit in small capsule surrounded at the base by the calyx. It belongs to the Hamamelidaceae family.

It comes from U.S. forests (Quebec, northeastern of United States and from Virginia to Florida) and Canada, it is grown as an ornamental plant in Europe where it was introduced in the late nineteenth century. It flowers in autumn-winter and leaf harvest is made in summer.

Hamamelis in Greek means ‘similar to honey’ although it has nothing to do with the characteristics of the plant. The American colonists called it witch hazel (haunted bush), because it flourished in winter and the Indians managed to work wonders using it in order to heal wounds.

Part used
The leaves and sometimes the bark.

Leaves contain not less than 3% of tannins, expressed as pyrogallol (C6H6O3; Mr 126.1), calculated in relation to the dry drug.

The dry drug is odorless and its flavor is slightly bitter and astringent. This plant is often falsified sometimes with hazel leaves when it is sold in markets so it is advisable don’t buy it in doubtful sites.

Internal use
> Venous insufficiency: varicose veins, tired and aching legs, hemorrhoids, phlebitis.
> Capillary fragility: cuperosis, telangiectasia.
> Pharyngitis and stomatitis.
> Diarrhea. In this case it is used the bark for its high content of tannins.
> It is a plant very specific for cases of heavy menstruation and metrorrhagia. Salpingitis, endometritis, menopausal disorders.
> Hemoptysis.

External use
> Mouth inflammation (stomatitis, mouth herpes, etc.).
> Local inflammations of skin and mucous membrane, burns, atopic neurodermatitis, etc.
> Blepharitis, conjunctivitis.
> Contusions, sprains, tired legs.
> Cosmetics- aftershave, makeup remover toner, shampoo for oily hair.

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