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Nutritional Supplement

Witch Hazel

Parts Used & Where Grown

Although native to North America, witch hazel now also grows in Europe. The leaves and bark of the tree are used in herbal medicine.

How It Works

Tannins and volatile oils are the main active constituents in witch hazel. These constituents contribute to the strong astringent effect of witch hazel. Pharmacological studies have suggested that witch hazel strengthens veins and is anti-inflammatory.1,2 Topical creams are currently used in Europe to treat inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema. One double-blind trial found that a topical witch hazel ointment (applied four times per day) was as effective as the topical anti-inflammatory drug bufexamac for people with eczema.3 However, another trial found that witch hazel was no better than a placebo when compared to hydrocortisone for people with eczema.4 Witch hazel is approved in Germany for relief of local mouth inflammations such as canker sores.

References

1. Bernard P, Balansard P, Balansard G, Bovis A. Venotonic pharmacodynamic value of galenic preparations with a base of hamamelis leaves. J Pharm Belg 1972;27:505-12.

2. Korting HC, Schafer-Korting M, Hart H, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of Hamamelis distillate applied topically to the skin. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1993;44:315-8.

3. Swoboda M, Meurer J. Treatment of atopic dermatitis with Hamamelis ointment. Br J Phytother 1991/2;2:128-32.

4. Korting HC, Schafer-Korting M, Klovekorn W, et al. Comparative efficacy of hamamelis distillate and hydrocortisone cream in atopic eczema. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1995;48:461-5.

5. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 268-70.

6. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 115-6.

7. Weiss R. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 342.

8. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 231.

9. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 221.

10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 150-1.

11. Laux P, Oschmann R. Witch hazel -Hamamelis virgincia L. Zeitschrift Phytother 1993;14:155-66.

12. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 115-6.

13. Weiss R. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 342.

14. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 231.

15. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 221.

16. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 150-1.

17. Erdelmeier CA, Cinatl J Jr, Rabenau H, et al. Antiviral and antiphlogistic activities of Hamamelis virginiana bark. Planta Med 1996;62:241-5.

18. Baumgärtner M, Köhler S, Moll I, et al. Localized treatment of herpes labialis using hamamelis special extract: a placebo-controlled double-blind study. Z Allerg Med 1998;74:158-61.

19. Erdelmeier CA, Cinatl J Jr, Rabenau H, et al. Antiviral and antiphlogistic activities of Hamamelis virginiana bark. Planta Med 1996;62:241-5.

20. Baumgärtner M, Köhler S, Moll I, et al. Localized treatment of herpes labialis using hamamelis special extract: a placebo-controlled double-blind study. Z Allerg Med 1998;74:158-61.

21. European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy. Hamamelidis folium (Hamamelis leaf). ESCOP Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs. Exeter, UK: ESCOP, 1997.

22. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 231.

23. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 168-70.

24. Ellingwood F. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1919, 1998, 354.

25. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 168-70.

26. Ellingwood F. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1919, 1998, 354.

27. Plein K, Burkard G, Hotz J. Treatment of chronic diarrhea in Crohn disease. A pilot study of the clinical effect of tannin albuminate and ethacridine lactate. Fortschr Med 1993;111:114-8 [in German].

28. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 221.

29. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 2000, 413-8.

30. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 231.

31. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 105.

32. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds). American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 59-60.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.