Witch-HazelNative Americans taught the English settlers to make a decoction of witch-hazel bark, twigs, and leaves to use in cold or warm compresses to treat bruises, to use it as an eye wash, and to take it by mouth for the treatment of diarrhea. Currently, it is used as a topical application for the treatment of eczema. A decoction is an extraction made by boiling a plant in water and removing the resulting mash from the liquid; the liquid contains the active ingredient in a concentrated form.
“Witch” refers to an Anglo-Saxon word meaning to bend; it has no reference to magic. This shrub blooms in the fall. There are other varieties of witch-hazel that bloom in late winter or very early spring.