Hamamelis virginiana

Other Names: Hamamelis. Hazel Nut, Snapping Hazel, Spotted Alder, Striped Alder, Tobacco Wood, Winterbloom

The name Hamamelis was adopted from a Greek word to indicate witch hazel’s resemblance to an apple-tree. Hamamelis means that it bears fruit and flowers at the same time. The look resembles an apple tree.

In Britain, the nut does not bear seeds, but in America, they are produced abundantly. They often do not ripen until the following summer. The seeds are ejected violently when ripe, hence the name Snapping Hazel. The leaves are inodorous, with an astringent and bitterish taste.

Witch Hazel“Witch” comes from the Old English word “wice” or “wych”. This means a plant that had pliable branches. The word is derived from the Indo-European word “wiker” (or wicker), which also described magickal people who could bend things to their will. “Hazel” was added because its leaves are similar to the Hazelnut tree.

Witch Hazel as an Herb for Medicinal Use

The medicinal parts are the plant’s hamamelis water, which is distilled from various plant parts. This includes the bark, the fresh and dried leaves, the fresh bark of the roots and branches and the dried bark of the trunk and branches.

Witch Hazel is used externally for insect bites, burns, bleeding wounds, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. Internally it will stop bleeding from internal organs. It has been used to treat bronchitis, flu, and coughs as well as healing stomach ulcers. It is often used as a mouthwash for conditions of the mouth and throat, and for bleeding gums. Soak a cloth in witch hazel and wrap around sprains and arthritic joints to speed healing and ease discomfort and swelling.

The distilled extract from the fresh leaves and young twigs forms an excellent remedy for internal or external uses. It is beneficial for bleeding from the lungs and nose, as well as from other internal organs. In the treatment of varicose veins, it should be applied on a lint bandage, which must be constantly kept moist. A pad of Witch Hazel applied to a burst varicose vein will stop the bleeding and often save life by its instant application.

Witch Hazel is approved by Commission E for:

  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Inflammation of the mouth and pharynx (leaf only).
  • Inflammation of the skin.
  • Venous conditions.
  • Wounds and burns.

A tea made of the leaves or bark may be taken freely with benefits, being good for bleeding of the stomach and in complaints of the bowels, and an injection of this tea is excellent for inwardly bleeding piles, the relief being excellent and the cure speedy. An ointment made of 1 part fluid extract of bark to 9 parts simple ointment is also used as a local application, the concentration Hamamelin being also employed, mainly in the form of suppositories. Suppositories can be used 1 to 3 times a day.

Witch Hazel Extract was once much used as a general household remedy for burns, scalds, and inflammatory conditions of the skin. It is still in general use.

In cases of bites of insects and mosquitoes a pad of cotton-wool, moistened with the extract and applied to the spot will soon cause the pain and swelling to subside.

Diluted with warm water, the extract is used for inflammation of the eyelids.

Extract: Put 2-1/2 cups distilled water and enough bark that can be thoroughly submerged into a pan and bring to a boil; cover and simmer 30 minutes; strain and use to make witch hazel water.

“Witch hazel blossoms in the fall,
To cure the chills and fevers all.”

-Earnest Thompson Seton

30 Homemade Remedy Uses for Witch Hazel

  1. Makeup remover
  2. Hemorrhoid relief – best to purchase a pre-made herbal product such as Medicated Witch Hazel Hemorrhoidal Pads.
  3. Clean off scratches & scrapes on skin.
  4. Help ease swelling and inflammation from bug bites, etc.
  5. Treat acne breakouts.
  6. Cleanse oily skin.
  7. Reduce the swollen appearance of varicose veins.
  8. Ease under eye swelling & puffiness.
  9. Soothe healing wounds.
  10. Ease annoying itching.
  11. Soothe and aid poison ivy pain & itching.
  12. Refine skin pores.
  13. Use as an astringent to refresh skin.
  14. Add some to your shampoo to calm down frizzy hair.
  15. Balance skin moisture.
  16. Treat dandruff.
  17. Reduce the redness of pimples.
  18. Soothe and aid the itching of chicken pox blisters.
  19. Ease the pain of sunburn.
  20. Prevent razor burn.
  21. Ease the sting of bug bites.
  22. Topically treat psoriasis and eczema.
  23. Use to clean your jewelry.
  24. Mix with baking soda and use to clean your bathroom.
  25. Thin out paints that are too thick.
  26. Mix with a bucket of water to use as a floor cleaner.
  27. Mix with white toothpaste to use as a stain remover.
  28. Use to disinfect & sanitize sick rooms.
  29. Use as a streak-free cleaner on chrome.
  30. Use as a streak-free eyeglass and mirror cleaner.

Skin Treatments & Make Up Removal

Pour a 1/2 tablespoon of witch hazel into a clean glass container the size of a jelly jar. Add 1/4 teaspoon olive or coconut oil and mix together. The oil will rise; just shake before using.

Herbal Air Freshener

A spicy fragrance that will over power even such strong odors as onion.

In a large jar, mix all the ingredients well. Cover and let sit, UN-refrigerated, for 3 days. Strain out the herbs and pour the remaining liquid into a spray bottle. Use as necessary. Yield: 1 cup.

Witch Hazel Lotion

Use as an astringent or apply in a cold compress to a fevered brow.

  • 1/4 cup fresh witch hazel leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol

Rinse the leaves well, then chop hem coarsely. Bring the water to a boil in a glass or enameled saucepan, add the leaves, and simmer for 15 minutes. Let steep until cook, then stran and stir in the alcohol. Will keep 4 to 5 days tightly covered and refrigerated.

Dandruff Rinse

Combats itching and flaking.

Combine the witch hazel and the herbs in a medium-size bowl and let steep for 2 days. Strain the herbs and discard. To use, massage the rise into the scalp and let dry. Then shampoo your hair. Store refrigerated in a covered jar.

Blend for general cleaning purposes:

Use the following recipe for all general cleaning needs. It smells fresh and cleans really well.

  • 2 ounces water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 4 ounces dish-washing liquid
  • 1 teaspoon tea tree extract
  • 2 ounces witch hazel

Place all ingredients into a spray bottle and wipe surfaces with a cleaning rag.

Culinary Uses of Witch Hazel

The nutty seeds of Witch Hazel were a source of food for the Native Americans.

Folklore and Magical Uses

Magical properties. Protection, Chastity, Divining Rods, Inspiration, Love divination

Witch Hazel Banishing Spell. Write the name of what you want to remove from your life on a small slip of paper. Place the paper in a cup and pour in enough witch hazel to submerge it. Position the cup where it can stand in the light of the waning moon overnight.

Carry Witch Hazel to mend a broken heart and cool passions.


Health risks following the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages are not recorded. If taken internally, the tannin content of the herb can lead to digestive complaints. Liver damage is conceivable following long-term administration, but rare.

Read More about: Herbs