- Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a shrub, about six to eight meters tall and original from North America. The Witch Hazel family is composed of more than 20 genera and about 100 species around the world. *The flowers are bright yellow and the fruits encapsulated. This shrub blooms in fall and winter.
- Witch hazel contains Safrole as part of the list of active constituents and Safrole is a known carcinogen, however it seems Witch hazel doesn’t contain enough quantities of safrole to suppose a health hazard.
- Extracts from Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), as well as green tea (Camellia sinensis), the fern Polypodium leucotomos and others contain antioxidant polyphenolic compounds that may protect the skin from sunburn and photo-aging when administered topically or systemically.
Among the active constituents found in Witch hazel we can mention:
- tannins, bitters, gallic acid, catechins, gallotannins, hamamelitannins, flavonoids quercentin, kaempferol), phenolic acids, saponins and safrole, Some of them are big contributors to Hamamelis virginiana benefits.
ANTI-CARCINOGENIC PROPERTIES OF WITCH HAZEL:
- WITCH HAZEL HAMMAMELIS VIRGINIANAIn spite Witch hazel contains Safrole as part of the list of active constituents and Safrole is a known carcinogen, it seems Witch hazel doesn’t contain enough quantities of safrole to suppose a health hazard. Scientific research however shows links between safrole and hepatic adenomas in rats.
- Other essential oils have also been subject of study in order to determine the link between them and certain types of cancer. Due to its sweet and spicy flavor safrole was used till 1958 as a flavoring agent but then forbidden by the FDA and many other countries due to the liver damage and tumors that it could cause its administration.
WITCH HAZEL FOR HEMORRHOIDS:
- Witch Hazel has been known since many years to be an effective herbal remedy against diarrhoea, hemorrhoids and also very good for the treatment of skin disorders, this mainly due to its astringent properties, yes, Witch Hazel is an astringent herb and as such is good because it helps to tone the skin and close its pores, helping you have a fresh look.
- But one of this ailments, known to be caused by a blood vessel constriction disorder, hemorrhoids, has been treated since long time ago using the properties and benefits of Witch hazel. It seems that topical application of Witch hazel near the area affected can relieve pain and lower dilation of blood vessels.
- This is probably because tannins in Witch hazel can draw out inflammatory proteins causing the hemorrhoids, helping this way to reduce swelling and inflammation on the affected area.
WITCH HAZEL ASTRINGENT PROPERTIES:
- Astringent herbs as Witch hazel can reduce the body fluid discharge by constricting the skin and its pores, reducing that way the level of dehydration suffered by the body, for example during diarrhea processes. These astringent properties of Witch hazel are exerted by the tannins found in this herb.
- The astringent properties from Witch Hazel come from one of its biomolecules, the tannins, which you may have heard to some wine experts while talking about the taste and properties of wine. Well, tannins are biomolecules as we said, which main characteristic are its astringent property and its particular taste.
- These astringent properties of tannins contained in Witch hazel bark and leaves were already used by American Indians many years ago to prepare teas against fever and coughs.
- Tannins give this bitter and characteristic taste to the wine, and are responsible for the precipitation of those particles we find in old wines when we finish to drink them or at the bottom of the bottle.
- The older the wine is the most tannins you’ll find on them and the more probabilities those ones are precipitate as rests. Now that we know what the tannins are we can tell you why Witch Hazel has such an astringent power, Witch Hazel leave extracts are very rich in tannins.
WITCH HAZEL ANTI-BACTERIAL PROPERTIES:
- Many of you may have asked yourself “is Witch hazel antibacterial?” Well, the answer is simple, Witch hazel tannins are very useful to protect skin against bacterial attacks, this is one of the reasons Witch Hazel is believed to be an effective anti-bacterial agent.
- This is probably the effect of tannins that closing skin pores prevent bacterial infections and help our skin to be better protected against those external agents.
WITCH HAZEL FOR WOUNDS AND BRUISES:
- The astringent effect of tannins also help to stop bleeding minor wounds and bruises, however this will only help in minor injuries. Because the high amount of tannins this herb contains, it´s only recommended using it externally.
WITCH HAZEL COSMETIC PROPERTIES:
- There are many cosmetic herbal remedies that make use of astringent herbs as witch hazel to achieve very good aesthetic results, a use that has also been extended to the cosmetic industry.
- Many well-known commercial after-shaves and facial and skin care products make very good use of the astringent properties of Witch hazel and benefit from it.
- Laboratories opted to make use of the natural properties of Witch hazel instead of investing on the discovery of new molecules for which they may have never obtained such a good result as nature brought to them for free.
WITCH HAZEL ANTI-AGING PROPERTIES:
- Many cosmetic and anti-aging herbal remedies make also use of Witch hazel astringent properties, including in their masks formulas a couple of tea spoons of Witch hazel as key ingredient.
WITCH HAZEL FOR VARICOSE VEINS:
- Another document use of Witch hazel refers to its power to treat varicose veins, mainly due again to the astringent power of tannins contained in Witch hazel, able to constrict blood vessels and minimize the effect of varicose veins.
WITCH HAZEL FOR ACNE:
- The use of Witch hazel for the treatment of acne in young patients became very popular in recent years. Once again, Witch hazel can help skin pores to close and prevent dirt and bacteria from infecting skin.
WITCH HAZEL AS PART OF AFTERSUN CREAMS AND LOTIONS:
- As part of after-sun lotions, data provided by studies on the subject suggests that Witch hazel exerts an anti-inflammatory action in lotions with 10% hamamelis content.
- The use of Witch hazel as part of after-sun creams and lotions is not new, several studies on the subject report its use as part of liquid and dry extracts where together with other herbs as Matricaria recutita, Aesculus hippocastanum, Rhamnus purshiana and Cinnamomum zeylanicum the extracts showed an intensification in solar protection factors, being able to contribute their emollient and moistening properties of the after-sun creams and lotions.
WITCH HAZEL FOR PETS:
- Even some herbal remedies refer to Witch hazel properties for the treatment of animal itchiness and hot spots on pets. The preparation seems to be very effective when Witch hazel is combined with Aloe vera.
THE EFFECTS OF HAMAMELIS VIRGINIANA (WITH HAZEL) IN SKIN DISORDERS AND SKIN INJURIES:
- The use of astringents as Witch hazel ointment for the treatment of skin disorders and skin injuries in children aged 27 days to 11 years was also documented in another clinical trial performed by the University Hospital of Luebeck.
- In this clinical trial Witch hazel ointment efficacy was compared and matched with that of dexpanthenol ointment. The results were similar in both cases but we have to highlight that the tolerability of hamamelis virginiana was considered as excellent.
WITCH HAZEL FOR COLON CANCER:
- In a recent study on Witch hazel Hamamelitannin properties against Colon cancer cells, it was discovered that Hamamelitannins from With Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) naturally occurring on the bark of this herb, exerted important anti-cancer properties, being able to induce necrosis and apoptosis, as well as S-phase arrest in the HT29 colon cancer cells.
- Pentagalloylglucose and proanthocyanidins found in the bark of Witch hazel were also analyzed on the same study but less efficiently than the Hamamelitannins. In the same study hamamelitannin had no harmful effects on NCM460 normal colonocyte.
- In another study it was discovered that hamamelitannins were on a higher concentration in Witch hazel bark, having that extract up to 31 times more hamamelitannin than the leaf extract and 87 times more than the stem extract.
- Due to the high content of tannins in Witch hazel only external topical use is recommended.
Source: “Health benefits of Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)”, www.herbcyclopedia.com/item/health-benefits-of-witch-hazel-hamamelis-virginiana-2