Witch Hazel 

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What are the characteristics of Witch Hazel?

The Native Americans had a traditional use of it which was taken over by Western settlers.

Witch hazel has been used for centuries by the Indians of North America, more particularly by wizards, who attributed to it many magical powers (hence its name "Witches' hazel"). They used it in the form of a decoction, to treat hemorrhages, inflammations and hemorrhoids.

Witch hazel was introduced to Europe by Collinson in 1736 and its use spread there as early as the 18th century. This plant is listed in the French Pharmacopoeia and in the list of herbal teas of this pharmacopoeia. As for witch hazel water, it is listed in the Pharmacopoeias in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, where it is sold in pharmacies. It is a hydrosol that has a pleasant scent and is very popular in America for skin care.

Note that Japanese scientists have found that Witch Hazel ranks high among the best antioxidant plants.

Latin name :

  • Hamamelis virginiana L.

Botanical family :

  • Hamamelidaceae

Producing organ :

  • Dried leaf

Known or suspected mode of action :

  • Property of tightening the tissues ( tannins )
  • Gallic acid produces ethyl gallate with astringent and antibacterial properties

Precaution for use :

  • Rare cases of hepatotoxicity by tannins

Main components of the plant :

  • Tannins (more than 10%, at least 3% for the European Pharmacopoeia expressed as pyrogallol ):
    • Ellagitannins ( gallic acid, pentagalloylglucose, hamamelitanin )
    • Catechin tannins (catechin, gallocatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin), proanthocyanidols, procyanidols, procyanidol-prodelphinidol copolymers
  • Flavonoids: g flavonol lucosides (astragaloside, myricitroside, isoquercitroside), kaempferol and quercetol heterosides
  • 0.01 to 0.5% essential oil: aliphatic alcohols, esters, carbonyl compounds
  • Organic acids: caffeic acid, quinic acid, gallic acid, fatty acids

Commission E, ESCOP and WHO recognize the use of witch hazel to treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids as well as bruises, sprains, minor wounds and local inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes. ESCOP also recognizes its virtues for the treatment of the feeling of heaviness in the legs (a symptom generally attributable to venous insufficiency). The leaves and bark of witch hazel contain 8% to 12% tannins, to which the astringent, anti-inflammatory and hemostatic effects of the plant are attributed. .

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