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Hamamelis virgianiana


Hamamelis virgianiana


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Hamamelis, winter bloom, witch hazel, hazel, hazel nut


Hamamelis virgianiana is commonly found in a tincture form and has a wide array of uses both medicinal and cosmetic. H. virgiania is also very popular as ornamental additions to gardens due to their extravagant coloring.

Occasionally reaching a height of 10m, H. virgianiana averages a height of 6m, with a trunk diameter of 40cm. The thin bark is brown externally with reddish inside. Young branches have a yellow tint and are covered with small hairs, and become smooth and grey with maturity. The small, unisexual flowers are unique in that they do not bloom until late in the fall, or even early into the winter, after the leaves of the tree have fallen. The golden flowers grow in clusters at the end of short stems. The asymmetrical leaves grow opposite one another on the stems.

Origin / Habitat

H. virgianiana is a large deciduous shrub located throughout the Eastern half of the North American continent, most often in the under-story of deciduous forests and in wetlands. Although it grows in both the United States and Canada, it is now cultivated throughout Europe. It flourishes in light moist soil and partial sunlight.

Chemical Constituents

Hamamelitannin, monogalloyl hamameloses, catechin, gallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate, oligomeric procyanadins. [1]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, twigs, barks, stems [1]

Medicinal Uses


Skin Conditions


Sun Burn







Most Frequently Reported Uses

Skin Conditions


Sun Burn



Dosage Range 

2-4 mL Extract three times daily. [1]

Most Common Dosage 

2 mL extract three times daily



H. virgianiana inhibited cellular proliferation in certain human colon cancer lines. The gallate esters located within the plant were determined to be active constituents in the process.[2] It was also found to inhibit TNF induced cell death in an in vitro study.[3] The free radical scavenging ability of H. virgianiana was verified by a 2008 study, and it was determined that the gallate moieties were more effective in free radical scavenging than the procyanidins in grape or pine.[4]

One of the major chemical components of H. virgianiana, hamamelitannin, has displayed strong free radical scavenging activity, and may be developed to prevent peroxynitrate related diseases.[5],[6] The proanthocyanidins in H. virgianiana exhibited antimutagenic activity, acting directly as desmutagens.[7]

The hydroalcoholic extract of H. virgianiana was found to display antiviral activity against Herpes simplex virus. The same study found that H. virgianiana displayed anti-inflammatory activity in a croton oil ear edema test in mice.[8]


The topical application of H. virgianiana in effectively treating various skin conditions has been challenged in several studies with moderately positive outcomes. One study compared the use of the herb in ointment form against dexpanthenol ointment in children aged 27 days to 11 years. All of the measurable parameters were almost identical in both groups of children with a significant improvement in the initial skin condition for both the H. virgianiana group and the dexpanthenol group.[9] Similarly, a single case study reported using H. virgianiana as a treatment for an accidental burn from a sodium hypochlorite solution. [10]

H. virgianiana has displayed anti-inflammatory action, specifically in UVB-induced erythema, caused from sunburn. In a human study, 30 volunteers were treated with as lotion containing a 10% H. virgianiana distillate for 48 hours after irradiation. The suppression of erythema was 27% at the end of the trial, compared to the 11-15% of the control subjects. [11]

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

There are no interactions reported for this herb.  Its external use should not be cause for concern.  However, internal use should be avoided especially if other medications are being used.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

H. virgianiana is considered safe when used as directed especially when prepared and used for topical application. Internal use may cause stomach upset.

In dosages above the recommended amount internal use of the bark can cause liver damage. [12]


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

Not to be used by children unless directed by physician.

Adverse reaction

No documentation

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  1) Native American Herbs


  1. Thomson Healthcare.  PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare Inc; 2007.
  2. Lizárraga D, Touriño S, Reyes-Zurita FJ, de Kok TM, van Delft JH, Maas LM, Briedé JJ, Centelles JJ, Torres JL, Cascante M. Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) fractions and the importance of gallate moieties--electron transfer capacities in their antitumoral properties. J Agric Food Chem. 24 Dec 2008;56(24):11675-11682.
  3. Habtemariam S. Hamamelitannin from Hamamelis virginiana inhibits the tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF)-induced endothelial cell death in vitro. Toxicon. Jan 2002;40(1):83-88.
  4. Touriño S, Lizárraga D, Carreras A, Lorenzo S, Ugartondo V, Mitjans M, Vinardell MP, Juliá L, Cascante M, Torres JL. Highly galloylated tannin fractions from witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) bark: electron transfer capacity, in vitro antioxidant activity, and effects on skin-related cells. Chem Res Toxicol. Mar 2008;21(3):696-704.
  5. Choi HR, Choi JS, Han YN, Bae SJ, Chung HY. Peroxynitrite scavenging activity of herb extracts. Phytother Res. Jun 2002;16(4):364-367.
  6. Dauer A, Hensel A, Lhoste E, Knasmüller S, Mersch-Sundermann V. Genotoxic and antigenotoxic effects of catechin and tannins from the bark of Hamamelis virginiana L. in metabolically competent, human hepatoma cells (Hep G2) using single cell gel electrophoresis. Phytochemistry. May 2003;63(2):199-207.
  7. Dauer A, Metzner P, Schimmer O. Proanthocyanidins from the bark of Hamamelis virginiana exhibit antimutagenic properties against nitroaromatic compounds. Planta Med. May 1998;64(4):324-327.
  8. Erdelmeier CA, Cinatl J Jr, Rabenau H, Doerr HW, Biber A, Koch E. Antiviral and antiphlogistic activities of Hamamelis virginiana bark. Planta Med. Jun 1996;62(3):241-245.
  9. Wolff HH, Kieser M Hamamelis in children with skin disorders and skin injuries: results of an observational study. Eur J Pediatr. Sep 2007;166(9):943-948.
  10. Serper A, Ozbek M, Calt S.Accidental sodium hypochlorite-induced skin injury during endodontic treatment. J Endod. Mar 2004;30(3):180-181.
  11. Hughes-Formella BJ, Bohnsack K, Rippke F, Benner G, Rudolph M, Tausch I, Gassmueller J. Anti-inflammatory effect of hamamelis lotion in a UVB erythema test. Dermatology. 1998;196(3):316-322.
  12. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. London:CRC Press. 1989;246.

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