Witch Hazel - Hamamelis virginiana

Witch Hazel

Hamamelis virginiana

Witch Hazels leaves and bark are home to plenty of flavonoids, tannins, and essential oil, making it incredibly fruitful for the skin. Its powerful gallic acid content comes in handy to fight inflammation and neutralize free radicals that prove to be very beneficial for acne, psoriasis, and eczema.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Snapping Hazelnut, Spotted Alder, Winter Bloom
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Leaves, Barks, Twigs
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About Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana. L) is a deciduous shrub that appears as undergrowth in the wild, especially in moist, deciduous forests in Eastern America. Its flowers give autumn its color with their dreamy yellow shades. Its oval-shaped leaves are arranged alternately with either smooth or serrated margins. 

Its leaves and barks are home to plenty of flavonoids, tannins, and essential oil, making it incredibly fruitful for the skin. Its powerful gallic acid content comes in handy to fight inflammation and neutralize free radicals that prove to be very beneficial for acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It soothes the region and reduces irritation without overdrying the skin. It has hemostatic properties too which help reduce the bleeding and inflammation of hemorrhoids. 

Witch hazel has also become a stellar shampoo ingredient due to its scalp-friendly benefits. It caters to dryness, dandruff, itching, scalp irritation, and even seborrheic dermatitis too. It has also been reported that witch hazel exhibits antiviral activity against certain viruses, especially influenza and human papillomavirus. When applied topically, it soothes the congestion and reduces cough with other symptoms of cold & flu.

 

Growing

It is best to plant witch hazel anytime between October to April. They can be started both indoors and outdoors. It is recommended to start them indoors if the ground is frozen. Also, the plants that are started during spring or summer need constant care with optimum water supply to keep the soil moist. 

It is adaptable and can do well in almost any moist soil with part shade to full sun.

Witch Hazel shows a somewhat eerie life cycle. It can take around 2 years for the seeds to germinate. Surprisingly they require both the warmth of summer and the cold of winter to germinate.

Its seeds go dormant during the winters then sprout the following season. From January to April, it remains in its blooming phase with its bright red to yellow dainty ribbon-like flowers. These flowers further develop seeds that follow the same cycle of seeking heat, warmth, and dormancy to thrive again in fall.

 

 

Harvesting

Witch Hazel flowers are harvested in late fall when those spidery blossoms are in bloom. Its leaves, barks, and twigs can be taken any time of the year.

Witch Hazel flowers, leaves, bark, and twigs are harvested and used to make medicinal preparations.

Witch hazel plant parts can be dried in a dehydrator until they feel rough and crispy to the touch. Store them in an airtight container to preserve their benefits.

Usage

Witch Hazel has garnered the limelight it deserves due to its seemingly endless benefits that we can obtain from the medicinal preparation prepared using it.

  • Tincture - Dried Witch Hazel bark and leaves are soaked in alcohol for 4 weeks to form a tincture.
  • Tea - Dried leaves and barks of witch hazel are steeped in hot water for 10-15 minutes to make a tea.
  • Decoction - Dried barks and leaves are cooked on extremely low flame in water for an hour with casual stirring to make a decoction.
  • Salve - Witch Hazel-infused oil is stirred with beeswax, coconut oil, and other essential oils to formulate a salve.
  • Infused oil - Dried witch hazel leaves and barks are allowed to sit in olive oil in a glass jar for 2 to 3 weeks with intermittent shaking to form witch hazel-infused oil.