Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana)

Another name for this species of witch hazel is Hamamelis virginiana or common witch hazel. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree endemic to eastern North America that blooms in the fall.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Order: Saxifragales
  • Family: Hamamelidaceae
  • Genus: Hamamelis
  • Species: H. virginiana
  • Binomial name: Hamamelis virginiana
  • Common name: Common witch hazel


This little deciduous tree can reach a height of up to 6 meters (and very seldom, 10 meters).

  • Bark - This tree has smooth, scaly, light brown bark with reddish-purple inner bark. The light orange-brown branchlets initially have a hairy surface before it smooths out. Afterward, it is dotted with erratic white dots before turning dark or reddish brown in color.
  • Leaves - Simple, alternating leaves range in color from bright green to dark green. The leaves have an uneven base, an obovate to elliptical form, with coarsely notched margins. The newly sprouted leaves have a reddish-bronze color. Autumn leaves have a striking yellow hue.
  • Flowers - The flowers are crinkled with four ribbon-shaped petals and range in color from mild to bright yellow, however, they are rarely orange or reddish in color. The scent of flowers is spicy yet mild. After the leaves have fallen, flowers blossom in October and November.
  • Fruits - The fruits are woody capsules that are long and stiff. These capsules grow to be 10–14 mm long and mature after a year.
  • Parts Used - Leaves, Bark
  • Regions -  Coastal Plains, Mountain, Piedmont

Chemical Constituents

Leaf Contains:-

  • 3-10% tannins: It contains proanthocyanidins of the cyanidin and delphinidin types along with a combination of catechins and gallotannins.
  • Catechins: It include (-)-epicatechin gallate, (-) epigallocatechin gallate, (+)-catechin, and (+)-gallocatechin.
  • Phenolic acids: Gallic and caffeic acids are among them.
  • Flavonoid: Galactosides, glucuronides, and flavonoids like isoquercitrin, quercetin, and kaempherol are among them.
  • 0.01-0.5% volatile oil: containing 40% aliphatic alcohols, 25% carbonyl compounds, 15% aliphatic esters, and a maximum of 0.2% safrol.

Bark Contains:-

  • A small amount of flavonols, 0.1% volatile oil, condensed catechin tannins, free gallic acid, and 8–12% tannins are present.
  • In comparison to the leaves, the volatile components of the bark have larger concentrations of sesquiterpenoids and phenylpropanoids. The concentrations of monoterpenoids are higher in the leaves. Hydrolyzable tannins can be found in the bark, but condensed tannins predominate in the leaves.

Health Benefits

Numerous health advantages may be provided by Hamamelis virginiana. Teas and ointments are made from the leaves and bark of Hamamelis virginiana.

  • Relieves Inflammation - Two of the strong anti-inflammatory qualities of Hamamelis virginiana also called witch hazel, are gallic acid and tannins. As a result, inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, acne, and eczema may be treated with this plant.

  • Hemorrhoids - Witch hazel, or Hamamelis virginiana, is typically used as a home treatment for hemorrhoids. Therefore, Hamamelis virginiana is utilized to lessen hemorrhoids' itching, pain, redness, bleeding, and swelling.

  • Acne - It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and might help with acne therapy. Additionally, witch hazel has astringent properties that assist to relax skin, minimize inflammation, and decrease pores.

  • Soothes Sore Throat - Its astringent and anti-inflammatory qualities make it useful occasionally for treating sore throats.

  • Prevent Infection - Witch hazel may have antiviral properties, which means it can combat some viral diseases like influenza A and human papillomavirus (HPV), according to several research findings.

  • Alleviates Scalp Sensitivity - Before washing your hair, try applying witch hazel to your scalp to help reduce sensitivity and prevent irritation. Witch hazel is occasionally used to treat dry scalp and dandruff.

  • Treats Bug Bites - After an insect bite, topical treatment of witch hazel has been shown to be beneficial. Apply a solution of witch hazel and equal parts water or another carrier oil to the afflicted area of the skin. In addition to preventing infection, this may help in wound healing.

  • Heals Respiratory Tracts - Drinking tea made with witch hazel has a beneficial impact on the respiratory system. It helps in the treatment of tonsillitis, nasal infections, cough irritation, and esophageal inflammation. For immediate relief, gargle with witch hazel tea. This may help in removing the discomfort and soreness while also drying up any extra mucus.

  • Relieves Headaches - The astringent properties of witch hazel help in the relief of headaches. Applying its extract topically helps ease the constriction of the tiny capillaries that typically give people headaches. Tea made with witch hazel also lowers blood pressure.

Side Effects

  • allergic responses.
  • Due to its high tannin concentration, drinking witch hazel water by mouth could be harmful.
  • Small rashes on the skin
  • When swallowed, upsets the stomach
  • Overdosing may result in liver damage.
  • Safrole, a molecule that causes cancer, is also present in witch hazel, but very minutely.

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