Synonym. Hamamelis Virginica. Natural order. Hamamelaceae. Common name. Witch Hazel. Habitat. A shrub growing in damp woods in the United States and Canada. Preparation. Tincture from the fresh bark of the twigs and roots.
Acts pre-eminently upon the venous system of blood vessels, giving rise to varicoses, venous congestions, haemorrhages, and even structural lesions, its most important local action being upon the rectum and the generative organs. Dr. Hale says that Hamamelis “may be called the Aconite of the veins, acting upon those vessels as Aconite acts upon the arteries. Its primary action appears to cause a spasm of the vaso-motor nerves which supply the veins (if a drug is capable of causing spasms of those nerves, and not at the same time of the arteries.). It also acts as an irritant to those vessels to such an extent as to cause a condition favorable to, if not actually ending in inflammation of their coats. The secondary action leads to the other extreme, and we have paresis of those nerves, and thence paralysis of the coats of the veins, leading to varicosis, venous congestions, haemorrhages, and even structural lesions.” The provings of Hamamelis do not entirely warrant these conclusions; but there is no question as to the clinical virtue of the drug in these conditions, which Dr. Allen presumes to be due to the gallic acid contained in the bark. The chief characteristic of Hamamelis is a passive, venous haemorrhage from any part.
Head. Stupor; headache; crowding fullness in the head and neck, also in forehead.
Eyes. Ecchymoses from bruises. Traumatic inflammation of the iris, with haemorrhages. Intra-ocular haemorrhages (Arnica).
Nose. Epistaxis, with a feeling of tightness of the bridge of the nose, and crowding pressure in forehead between the eyes (Aconite, Dulcamara). The nosebleed clears the head and affords great relief. Profuse epistaxis (Aconite, Belladonna, Cinchona); flow passive, venous; idiopathic or vicarious (Bryonia, Pulsatilla, Sepia).
Mouth. Gums swollen; bleed easily (Mercurius, Nitr. ac.). Passive, venous haemorrhage after extraction of teeth. (Arsenicum).
Throat. Tonsils and fauces congested; veins enlarged, varicose.
Stomach. Haematemesis of black blood; tremulous, weak, cold, quick pulse, profuse sweats (Arsenicum).
Stool and Anus. Painful and bleeding hemorrhoids (Nitr. ac., Phytolacca). Itching in anus. Discharge of large quantities of dark blood from the bowels. (Euc.).
Urinary Organs. Irritation of the urethra, followed by a discharge and ardor urinae. Haematuria (Arsenicum, Cantharis, Colchicum, Phosphorus) from passive congestion of the kidneys.
Male Organs. Severe neuralgic pains in the testicles. Pain running down the spermatic (Berberis) cords into the testes (Mercurius); orchitis (Pulsatilla); intense soreness and swelling. Varicocele. Circocele.
Female Organs. Active uterine haemorrhage, blood bright-red (Aconite, Belladonna, Erig., Mille.), not coagulable. Metrorrhagia, passive flow, venous blood. Vaginismus (Plumb.), intense soreness; prurigo of vulva (Cantharis). Vicarious menstruation (Bryonia, Pulsatilla). Ovarian soreness and painfulness (Apis., Belladonna, Cimic.). Phlegmasia alba dolens.
Respiratory Organs. Haemoptysis (Aconite, Cinchona, Ferrum, Mille., Sabina, Acid Sulphuricum), tickling cough, with taste of blood or of sulphur.
Limbs. Varicose veins (Pulsatilla, Zincum met.) and ulcers, with stinging or pricking. Phlebitis of the vessels of the extremities. Great lassitude and weariness in the limbs and elsewhere. Chilblains always bluish.
Compare. Arnica,Carb. v., Cinchona, Ferrum, Pulsatilla, Rhododendron, Acid Sulphuricum, Tril.
The great sphere of usefulness of Hamamelis is in the treatment of passive venous haemorrhages from any part, the varieties of which have been sufficiently detailed in the preceding list of symptoms. An invaluable remedy for varicose veins, and, in watery extract, an excellent local application in varicose ulcers. Phlebitis. An excellent remedy in phlegmasia alba dolens. Probably the most generally effective remedy both externally and internally for bleeding hemorrhoids. Useful in many troubles of the sexual system of both sexes. In the male; varicocele; orchitis; neuralgia of the testicles. In the female; varices of the labia; vaginismus; subacute ovaritis; vicarious menstruation; metrorrhagia; dysmenorrhoea; chronic metritis. Has been employed in low forms of fever with haemorrhagic tendency. Also haemorrhagic measles, haemorrhagic small-pox and purpura. Hamamelis, in watery extract already mentioned, is a highly popular and safe domestic remedy, being applied, both locally and internally, for nearly all ills to which flesh is heir. It is a valuable remedy after injuries, for haemorrhages, and ecchymoses; it also relieves the soreness of muscles, heals cuts and ragged wounds, preventing suppuration, and may be applied to almost any part for the relief of pain and soreness, sometimes proving superior to Arnica or any other remedy for such proposes.