Witch hazel is a small yet popular ornamental plant and grows clusters of rich yellow and orange red flowers that blossom in autumn and continue throughout winter. Hazel twigs were used as divining and dowsing rods to locate water or ‘witch’ a well or find hydration. A witch hazel dowsing rod in the hands of an expert witch can indeed locate the water underground.
The plant known as Hamamelis Virginiana is found from Nova Scotia west of Ontario and south of Texas and Florida.
The Native Americans were well acquainted with the exceptional medicinal value of witch hazel and they passed on the knowledge to the early settlers who later on refined the process of extracting the essential oils from the pulp material through distillation process. The all natural liquid astringent has now become an American tradition. It does not produce sufficient quantity of oil to make viable production. There are, however, various distillates of witch hazel called hydrosols or hydrolats that are mixed with it.
The bark and leaves of Witch hazel contain copious quantities of tannins which is an astringent. Astringent is a substance that can dry, tighten and harden the tissues. Therefore it can be used a medicine. Extracts from its bark and leaves are used for treating bruises, insect bites and after shave lotions. It is also used as an active ingredient in medications that reduce or stop the bleedings. Witch hazel seeds contain edible oil.
Witch hazel is extensively used in skin care as it tightens the pores and removes the excess oil. It is strong anti-oxidant and stringent that is very efficacious in fighting acne. It has been found to be exceptionally useful for psoriasis, eczema, cracked for blistered skin, poison ivy, varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It stops the discharges. The procyanadins, resin and flyonoids in it impart it soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. An application of cotton cloth soaked in witch hazel tea reduces swelling and sever pain.
Witch hazel as it is available from drug stores has also
been found to be useful in repairing of the old furniture. If it is poured
on a flat wood surface with significant crazing in the old lacquer or
varnish and left there for some time, it will essentially ‘melt’
or soften the surface.
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