Witch Hazel - Useful Herb for Hemorrhoids
Hamamelis virginiana Hamamelidaceae
A North American tree, witch hazel is widely grown for the ornamental appeal of its spidery flowers and large oval leaves. Its yellowish flowers grow in clusters at the junction of branches and leafitalks in winter. It bears brown fruit consisting of small capsules, which split to release the seeds.
Tannins constitute more than 10 per cent of the dried leaf. They impart vasoconstrictive and antiinflammatory effects. Witch hazel also contains flavonoids - which are anti-inflammatory and strengthen the blood vessels - and a small proportion of essential oil.
Plant young specimens in moist, rich neutral to acid soil.
PREPARATION AND DOSAGE
For internal use
TO TREAT circulatory problems, haemorrhoids
For external use
TO TREAT circulatory problems. haemorrhoids. inflammation GELS, OINTMENTS Massage into affected area once a day. WITCH HAZEL WATER Apply once or twice a day. TINCTURE Add 200g of broken up dried bark to I litre of 40% alcohol and store in sterilised dark-coloured bottle. Mix 20ml tincture with 100ml water and apply to varicose veins.
Experiments have demonstrated that the extract made from witch hazel leaves strengthens veins, reduces the permeability of capillaries and has anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been shown to constrict blood vessels. In 2002 German trials showed that witch hazel can reduce erythema, which is the reddening of the skin due to dilated blood vessels. The plant's anti-inflammatory activity supports its use in treating eczema.
Witch hazel can be taken orally or applied as an ointment to treat circulatory problems such as heavy, aching legs, varicose veins and haemorrhoids.
Further German research in 2002 has demonstrated the plant's antimicrobial activity. A formulation containing witch hazel was found to be effective against the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus and the yeast Candida albicans.The plant's antibacterial and soothing qualities account for its use in mouthwashes and eye drops.
Witch hazel appears to have no toxic effects but it might cause contact allergies.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid taking witch hazel internally.
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