Hamamelis virginiana Cortex Distilled Witch Hazel Water 500ml

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Hamamelis virginiana  

Common Names: Witch hazel, Spotted Alder, Winterbloom, Snapping Hazelnut
Family: Hamamelidaceae

Botanical description: It is a small deciduous woodland tree that grows up to 5m. The leaves are oval with coarsely toothed edges. The flowers are yellow with a strong scent and appear in the winter months, hence the name Winter Bloom.  The flowers are followed by brown fruit capsules that eject the ripe seeds up to 4 m away from the tree hence another common name of snapping hazelnut. Many of the plants grown in this part of the world in people’s gardens are hybrids with different colour flowers which probably have some medicinal action.

Location: Canada and  Eastern USA. Cultivated elsewhere.
Part used:  Leaves, bark, distilled witch hazel water. Nuts are eaten as a food
Cultivation/Harvesting:  The leaves  are gathered in the summer and dried. The bark is gathered in the autumn and dried as quickly as possible.

History/Folklore/Taste/Energetics:  Cooling and drying. A traditional remedy for the eyes, cooling tired and sore eyes. It is also valuable for treating bruising and varicosities. For many people its scent reminds them of  childhood bumps and bashes being tended and its aroma seems rather reassuring. For women after childbirth it is a most wonderful healer and resorer of the perineum and vulva. In general I find the trees rather reassuring to sit with, and their early flowers are one of the first harbingers of Spring , a joyful raggedy reminder that the life force is still pulsing through nature albeit more slowly in the winter months. It is a tree that helps us to restore our boundaries when we feel they have been bashed around and one I am still deepening my journey with. This  summer we made a small amount of aromatic water from our two trees here for the first time and I look forward to further insights.

Constituents:  Leaves- tannin up to 10%, mainly gallic tannins and also condensed catechins and proanthocyanidins, Saponins, Choline, Resins, Flavonoids
Bark-also some volatile oil, fixed oil and up to 6% tannins.

Actions:  Astringent, Anti-haemorrhagic, Anti-inflammatory, Tonic, Sedative
Traditional and current uses:
·        Compresses or cream to treat bruises, bleeding, haemorrhoids and other varicosities
·        Weak decoction or distilled water as an eyebath for conjunctivitis
·        Used internally by practitioners to treat mucous colitis, diarrhea with haemorrhoids, haematemesis, and other indications of internal bleeding
·        After childbirth soak a sanitary towel with distilled witch hazel water to reduce bruising and trauma to the region or treat piles
·        Compresses or cream for varicose eczema and other tender and itchy skin conditions
·        A lotion is prepared to use to treat cysts and skin tumours.

Recipes and formulae:
The distilled water is used as an astringent toner for acne and oily skin. It is best blended 50:50 with another floral water such as lavender, neroli, chamomile or rose.