Parts Used: dried bark, leaves
Witch hazel has long been used as a first aid herb to counteract pain, soothe, cool and tone blood vessels. These very reasons make it a perfect herb for healing many skin conditions and inflammation issues. Whenever I think of witch hazel I am always taken back to the movie Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, when Milly is fixing up all the brothers after a barn raising brawl, using witch hazel extract for all their bumps, bruises and cuts...although she couldn't heal poor Gideon's heart with it.
Herbal Actions and Properties
Beauty and Personal Care
- all types of skin conditions
- natural toner
- oily skin
- broken capillaries
- internal and external hemorrhage
- sore throat, mouth sores, oral conditions and inflammation
- mild pain reliever
- cuts, wounds, bruises, burns, inflammatory swellings
- bowel issues including diarrhea and dysentery
- hemorrhoids and varicose veins
- bug bites and stings (soak bandage in extract and keep in contact with skin)
- inflammatory skin conditions, including dermatitis, eczema, rashes, acne, poison oak or ivy, hives, etc.
- itchy, irritated skin, sun burn
- aching joints and bones, arthritis, rhuematism
- sore muscles and sprains
- irritated, sore, inflamed eyes, conjunctivitis, styes (eye wash)
Methods of Use
- the most common form to use witch hazel is the extract, be careful about purchasing from a pharmacy or grocery store as these contain mostly alcohol. Mountain Rose Herbs carries a true extract with only 14% alcohol.
- infusion/decoction (tea)
- ointment, salve, balm
- eye wash
In the Garden
- Plant in moist, rich, sandy or peaty soil in partial shade, but will tolerate most conditions.
- As flowers start blooming in late autumn the previous year's seed pods burst and pop out black seeds (which can shoot as far as 25 feet!). The seeds are edible and the taste is compared to hazelnuts (hence the name witch "hazel")
- Harvest leaves and twigs any time - follow drying instructions here.