Native to North America, witch hazel now grows in most parts of Europe and Britain. The leaves and bark of the tree are used in herbal medicine. Native Americans used poultices of witch hazel leaves and bark to treat haemorrhoids, wounds, painful tumours, insect bites, and skin ulcers.
What it does
Witch hazel contains saponins, flavonoids and very high levels of tannins and volatile oils which are astringent, anti-inflammatory and mildly antiseptic. It tones the skin and blood vessels when used topically. It can also slow down bleeding from cuts, wounds and haemorrhoids.
Witch hazel has a long history of use for washing and healing wounds, toning the skin and also reducing inflammation in eczema.
Witch hazel is only to be used topically and not internally.
Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using witch hazel.
At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with witch hazel.