Hamamelis virginiana

Hamamelis virginiana                                Common name:  Witch Hazel

Family: Hamameliadaceae

Parts used:  Leaves, Bark


  • Leaves:  Tannins (hydrolyzable gallotannins & condensed catechins and proanthocyanin), flavonoids, quercitin, VO.
  • Bark:  Tannins (hydrolyzable hamamelitannins & condensed d-gallocatechin, l-epigallocatechin, l-epicatechin), saponins, VO, resin.

Medicinal actions:  Astringent, anti-inflammatory

Medicinal uses:  Should only be used topically for the treatment of hemorrhoids, varicose veins, bruises and inflamed swellings & skin disorders (eg. eczema, dermatitis). If used in a vaginal douche, it will address purulent mucus discharge from inflamed tissues as well as blood loss. It’s antioxidant activity can be useful towards anti-aging and anti-wrinkling of the skin.


  • Proanthocyanidins are potent inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase and PAF in vitro.
  • Tannins (Hamamelitannin) demonstrated in vitro antioxidant activity (inhibits superoxide anion radicals) and protected murine skin fibroblasts from damage induced by UVB irradiation, and human experiments have demonstrated suppression of UVB mediated sunburn with topical application of Hamamelis lotion.
  • Topical application of leaf extract produces a significant reduction in skin temperature and vasoconstrictive activity.
  • Hamamelis concentrate exhibited significant antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus type 1 in vitro.


  • Distilled witch hazel water for topical application.
  • Cream, Poultice, Compress etc.

Toxicity: Hydrolysable tannins which are broken down readily by acid, alkali or certain enzymes to yield gallic or ellagic acid, and ultimately pyrogallol which is antiseptic, caustic and hepatotoxic. Thus if taken internally it should be for the shortest time possible.

Contraindications: Internal use (relative) due to hydrolyzable tannins.

Interactions: When extracted in hot water, tannins can precipitate alkaloids from plants, drugs, proteins, salicylates, iodine, metals, minerals and B vitamins thereby slowing, reducing or blocking their absorption. The drug-tannin reaction can interfere with dosing if sources of the two compounds are combined in solution prior to administration.

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