Witch hazel is a tall, deciduous shrub or small tree; growing to a height of up to 15 feet, the stems and branches are covered with scaly gray to light, brown bark. The alternate, elliptic to obovate leaves are coarsely toothed and often are finely h... *
Witch hazel is a tall, deciduous shrub or small tree; growing to a height of up to 15 feet, the stems and branches are covered with scaly gray to light, brown bark. The alternate, elliptic to obovate leaves are coarsely toothed and often are finely hairy on the veins underneath. The fragrant, light yellow flowers have 4 strap-shaped petals and grow in nodding, axillary clusters, blooming in autumn when the leaves are falling. The fruit is a woody capsule which ejects two shining black seeds when they ripen during the summer or autumn following the flowers.
Witch hazel was first used, as far as we know, by the Natives.
The Natives watched for this plant to be in bloom; they took it as an indication that the frost was entirely gone and they might sow their corn. Also, it was a good spring herald for a good horse race.
Many wells have been dug in this land where the witch hazel has indicated. At one time, one would hear occasionally, of people making a business of "water witching." Despite the unscientific concept, some folks still swear by its many successes.
Witch hazel's name is thought to be derived from early settlers who used this plant's forked branches as a divining rod in their searches for water or gold, just as the hazel's branches were used in England. It is also possible that the name was transferred from the English wych-hazel, or wych-elm, with its ultimate origin in the Old English word wican, meaning "to yield". The reference, of course, would be the springiness of the wood.
Leaves and bark have served mostly to make astringent preparations, which have been taken internally for diarrhea and used externally as a rinse or gargle for mouth and throat irritations, colds, and as a vaginal douche for vaginitis. For skin irritations, bruises, varicose veins, tonic after abortions, insect bites and stings, minor burns, and poison ivy, an ointment made from coughs, coldsid extract or a poultice can be applied. A poultice made from the inner bark is said to be effective for hemorrhoids and for eye inflammation. The inner bark also has sedative and hemostatic properties.
Twig tea was rubbed on athletes' legs to keep muscles limber, support lameness, wounds, and swellings; tea for bloody dysentery, cholera, cough, and asthma. Used externally for bruises and sore muscles, minor pains, itching. Diluted with water or mixed with honey, the powder may be topically applied as a dressing for burns, scalds, scrapes, bruises, abrasions, and crushed toes and fingers. An effective wash for sunburn, inflamed breasts, and for various rashes. It is often used as an after-shave lotion.
How to Use the Herb
Commission E specifies these doses for external use: witch hazel water in virtually any amount as a rubbing liniment; for compresses and rinses, steep 5-10 grams of crushed witch hazel in 1 cup of water; for poultices, 20-30 percent in semi-solid preparations. For internal use, the commission recommends suppositories 1 to 3 times per day.
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Witch Hazel Tea is not considered safe to be consumed internally.
Use moistened tea bags as a compress to relieve the pain of bruises and sores, insect bites and stings, itchy rashes, or other minor irritations.
Powders, loose herb, or tea bags can all be used to make a decoction that can be used as a natural mouthwash or rinse to soothe inflamed gums or painful canker sores.
Witch Hazel is not intended for internal use! Use only as an oral rinse or gargle or in topical preparations applied externally to the skin.
Witch hazel - so long as it isn't swallowed, and it's not supposed to be - is very safe. There are no known contraindications, side effects, or drug interactions.
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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease. If conditions persist, please seek advice from your medical doctor. Information provided at ZooScape.com relies partly on Traditional Uses. The essence of the current American rule on Traditional Uses is, as stated by FTC, "Claims based on historical or traditional use should be substantiated by confirming scientific evidence, or should be presented in such a way that consumers understand that the sole basis for the claim is a history of use of the product for a particular purpose."