Witch hazel is a shrub that consists of several crooked branching trunks with smooth grey bark. Witch hazel was used by North American Indians as a poultice in the treatment of painful swellings and tumours.
Both the leaves and bark of witch hazel contain tannic and gallic acids. These substances help to give witch hazel its astringent, tonic, sedative and anti-inflammatory properties. Witch hazel has been used to stop internal and external hemorrhaging, as a treatment for hemorrhoids, diarrhea, dysentery and mucous discharges.
Herbalists recommend taking a tea made of the leaves or bark. This witch hazel tea could be good for bleeding of the stomach (as caused by an ulcer) and if you are experiencing digestive troubles. Many say that an injection of this tea is good for inwardly bleeding hemorrhoids, helping to relieve the condition quickly and cure the problem. You can also find suppositories that contain hamamelidis (an extract from the bark of witch hazel).
If you suffer from varicose veins, witch hazel may be able to help. Apparently, witch hazel extract acts on the muscular fiber of veins. For this reason, the distilled extract from the fresh leaves and young twigs is said to be beneficial for bleeding from the lungs and nose, as well as from other internal organs. For the treatment of varicose veins, apply the extract directly on a lint bandage, which should be kept constantly moist. If you apply this pad of witch hazel to a burst varicose vein, it should stop the bleeding.
In one clinical trial, 309 children suffering from skin ailments were treated with a witch hazel ointment. Based on scores that related to the relief of symptoms, the researchers concluded that an ointment made from witch hazel is an effective and safe treatment for minor skin injuries and inflammations.
A commercial extract of witch hazel is available for purchase and has been used by many as a general household remedy for burns, scalds, and inflammatory conditions of the skin. For insect bites, use a pad of cotton-wool, moistened with the extract, and apply it to the bite. You should soon notice that pain and swelling reside. Witch hazel extract,when diluted with warm water, can be used for inflammation of the eyelids.