Witch hazel is a deciduous shrub that boasts compact clumps of yellow or orange-red flowers with long, thin petals and hard, black seed pods. Witch hazel gets its medicinal properties from the tannins, flavonoids, essential oils, choline and saponins. Its properties make it highly effective in treating skin ailments of all kinds.
It is believed that the tannins present in witch hazel (especially the bark), along with various oils, help speed coagulation.
Because of its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, witch hazel is approved by the FDA as an ingredient in over-the-counter medications to treat hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
It is believed that the tannins and volatile oils found in the plant help strengthen veins and reduce inflammation in treating eczema, dermatitis and related skin conditions.
Witch hazel has also been used to treat the effects of a prolapsed uterus, swollen or infected gums, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome, and to ease the teething pain in babies.