The witch hazel grows over most of the Eastern U.S. For centuries, the shoots of this tree were used as divining rods to discover water and metals underground. It is an old time medical remedy that, we are told, is still popular with the American Indians.
The BARK, LEAVES, and TWIGS are all used in medicine. The taste is astringent and sweetish, and the odor is a feeble fragrance. Water extracts its virtues.
It chiefly influences the mucous membrane.
The distilled or aqueous X is a highly favored remedy for household use. It is preferred as a local application in gonorrhea and gleet. In prolapsus uteri, vaginal catarrh, leucorrhea, and relaxed vagina, it is a good injection. It tones the uterus and vagina. Combined with golden seal, it makes a soothing injection for the urethra.
Either the infusion or the distilled X is of excellent value.
A rectal injection of the X is of service in rectal hemorrhage, in hemorrhoids, piles, and prolapsus ani. For bleeding piles, use an injection made from the decoction of the bark or use a local application of an ointment made by adding 1 part Fl X bark to 9 parts simple ointment.
For itching and irritation of piles, an ointment made with lard and a decoction of white oak bark, apple tree bark, and witch hazel is a valuable remedy.
For varicose or prominent veins, it is highly recommended. Apply a lint bandage and keep it constantly wet with the X.
In dysentery and diarrhea, it may be combined with red elm.
In catarrh of any part of the mucous membrane, it is an excellent remedy. In nasal catarrh, use with an atomizer or mix with vaseline and apply with a camel hair brush up the nostrils. In bleeding from the nose, the X may be snuffed up the nose.
The distilled aqueous X is a very good wash for inflamed eyes, and in purulent ophthalmia, it has a soothing effect on the eyes. It may be diluted with rose water or elder flower water either to bathe, make fomentations, or eye pads.
Use an infusion for sore mouth and gums.
As a wash in scaly or skin diseases, wash with a strong infusion. Will act as a tonic to the skin, relieve inflammation, and remove the red veins.
In conjunctivitis, the following is recommended: distilled witch hazel and aqua camphora each % oz., aqua rose 1 oz. Put 2 drops in the eyes 3 times daily.
The infusion made of 1 t. bark or leaves steeped in 1 C. boiling water is taken 1 C. a day.
“Hamamelin,” a concentrated form of witch hazel, is useful in the treatment of piles in the form of suppositories.