Useful information

Hamamelis virginiana: medicinal properties

It is sometimes called the Magic Nut. In Western herbal medicine literature, witch hazel is found under the name Canadian hazel due to its leaves that are similar in shape to hazel.

Hamamelis virginiana - Magic nut

Hamamelis virginiana(Hamamelis virginiana) - a tree 2-9 m high, from the Witch hazel family. The bark of the trunk and branches is light gray. Leaves are alternate, short petiolate, 8-15 cm long. It would seem to be an ordinary shrub, but in the fall, when the leaves fall, fragrant yellow flowers bloom on the bare branches, collected in 2-5 pieces in the axils of the branches. The fruit is an elliptical two-seeded capsule that ripens next summer. When ripe, it cracks at the top, and the seeds fly in different directions. Seeds are oblong, almost flat on one side, black, with a dense, shiny shell.

The plant blooms from late September to December (in southern Europe), during or after the leaves fall.

Hamamelis virginianaHamamelis virginiana

The homeland of the plant is the Atlantic coast of North America. It is found mainly along the edges of deciduous forests, river banks, thickets of bushes. Witch hazel was introduced to Europe by the English botanist Collinson in 1736. Although the plant is very decorative, it should be considered not only as a decoration.

Medicinal raw materials and their properties

The medicinal raw material of witch hazel is the leaves, which are harvested in the first half of the growing season and dried in a well-ventilated room in the shade. The bark is used by homeopaths. It is harvested in early spring during sap flow.


The leaves contain tannins (3-8%), the main of which are beta-hamamelitannin and ellagtannin, in addition, protocyanidins, flavonoids, caffeic acid derivatives and essential oil (up to 5%). The bark again contains tannins, but already 8-12%, free gallic acid, ellagitannin, some catechins and up to 0.5% essential oil, fatty acids, which include glycerides of palmitic and oleic acids, phytosterol.

The plant is included in the pharmacopoeias of France, Belgium, Chile, Italy, Spain and others. The Indians have long used the leaves as a hemostatic and wound-healing agent.

Preparations from this plant have an antibacterial, wound healing, hemostatic effect, reduce capillary permeability, and also eliminate itching. The anti-inflammatory effect is reminiscent of the action of cortisone, a hormonal steroid compound used in anti-inflammatory drugs. The flavonoids contained in the raw material have a protective effect on the walls of blood vessels and prevent the formation of edema, reduce the allergic reaction. Witch hazel preparations have a beneficial effect on blood circulation in the venous system, similar to horse chestnut (see Horse chestnut).

Hamamelis virginiana

Medicinal use

Previously, witch hazel was often used internally for indigestion as a fixative and for uterine bleeding. Currently, they are mainly used externally in the form of ointments, decoctions, tinctures for minor skin lesions, local bleeding, sun and thermal burns, trophic ulcers, phlebitis, for acute and chronic skin diseases. For example, with neurodermatitis, witch hazel ointment was not inferior in effectiveness to 1% cortisone ointment and, accordingly, can serve in certain cases as an effective substitute for hormonal drugs.

Distillate of witch hazel, which is obtained by distilling leaves and young branches with water vapor, is a popular product in the production of cosmetics for the care of dry, aging and problem skin prone to all sorts of rashes, inflammations, irritations and allergic reactions. In many countries, it is a recognized cosmetic remedy for problem skin. This refers to acne, red veins of blood vessels, various inflammations.It is found in lotions, creams and other skin care products.

Inside take a decoction or tincture for varicose veins and thrombophlebitis. Outwardly, with thrombophlebitis, it is often used in conjunction with Canadian hydrastis. In the form of a liquid extract, ointment or suppositories, it is used for hemorrhoids. Outwardly, a decoction of leaves or bark is used for sitz baths for hemorrhoids and anal fissures. Some pharmaceutical companies produce suppositories or ointments for the treatment of this unpleasant disease, in which, in addition to witch hazel extract, they also include horse chestnut extract, which is also an excellent venotonic agent.

Tincture is recommended to be applied for bruises instead of arnica tincture (see Arnica). The hematoma, or simply a bruise, will be much smaller. Witch hazel ointment is a good wound healing agent and is successfully used for various skin diseases, including such serious ones as eczema.

Application recipes

Decoction: 10 g of dry leaves are poured into 0.5 liters of water and boiled for 5-7 minutes. During the day, this rather bitter and tart drink is drunk in several doses.

For external use, a more concentrated broth is required - 15-20 g per 0.5 l of water is boiled for 15 minutes over low heat in an enamel bowl. Used for washing wounds, trophic ulcers, inflamed oral mucosa 2-3 times a day. This broth is very effective for weeping and poorly healing wounds, including bedsores. In this case, the wound dries up, tissue trophism improves. Tannins form a film on the surface of the wound, which prevents the entry of microorganisms.

Tincture: 1 part of dry leaves is poured with 5 parts of vodka and insisted in a closed vessel for 2 weeks, shaking occasionally. After that, the tincture is filtered and the remaining mass is squeezed out. Take 20 drops 3 times a day before meals. The tincture can be used as a compress for thrombophlebitis and varicose veins, previously diluted with water in a ratio of 1: 3. The tincture diluted with water serves as an excellent lotion for acne on the face.