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Witch-Hazel - Hamamelis virginiana

Several native american tribes have used the witch hazel tree for numerous ills : the Mowhawks use the steam from a witch hazel decoction to treat eye injuries, whilst the Menomees in Wisconsin are known to rub the decoction on their legs during sport, to keep the muscles supple. The maceration of twigs is also recommended for backache, and the Potawatomis add the twigs to steam baths to treat sore muscles.

Distilled witch hazel (steam distilled bark) is perhaps the most well known form in which the western world uses witch hazel today. It is highly astringent and a great anti-inflammatory and can be used to treat bruises, sprains, strains, swellings, nosebleeds (apply a cold compress over the nose bridge area, and another on the nape of the neck) grazes, cuts, eczema, insect bites, spots and blemishes, and to ease varicose veins and piles. It also makes a cooling lotion for burns and insect bites.

A cold compress is a wonderfully soothing remedy for headaches, and used over the eyes will calm and soothe tired or troubled, bleary eyes.

A tincture of the leaves can be taken internally to treat diarrhoea, colitis, and excessive menstruation and haemorrhages.


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