Also indexed as:Hamamelis virginiana
© Steven Foster
How It Works
Tannins and volatile oils are the main active constituents in witch hazel. These constituents contribute to the strong astringent effect of witch hazel. Pharmacological studies have suggested that witch hazel strengthens veins and is anti-inflammatory.16, 17 Topical creams are currently used in Europe to treat inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema. One double-blind trial found that a topical witch hazel ointment (applied four times per day) was as effective as the topical anti-inflammatory drug bufexamac for people with eczema.18 However, another trial found that witch hazel was no better than a placebo when compared to hydrocortisone for people with eczema.19 Witch hazel is approved in Germany for relief of local mouth inflammations such as canker sores.
How to Use It
A tea of witch hazel can be made by steeping 2–3 grams of the leaves or bark in 150 ml of boiled water for 10 to 15 minutes.20 The tea can be drunk two to three times daily between meals. A tincture, 2–4 ml three times per day, is also occasionally used.
In combination with warm, moist compresses, witch hazel extracts can be applied liberally at least twice each day (in the morning and at bedtime) on hemorrhoids. For other skin problems, ointment or cream can be applied three or four times a day, or as needed.21
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