Glimpses of Gold
Nature’s first green is gold Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower: But only so an hour Then leaf subsides to leaf – Robert FrostJust before the Forsythia proclaims the arrival of Spring, our brave Witch Hazel sends forth a flurry of delicate flowers amid a late snowfall or sudden dips in the thermometer. “Take heart” she seems to tell me, it’s sooner than you think. And I do take heart, the Crocus venture out, peeking through the soil and brightening up my day. I feel better already.
Our Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) was a gift from a friend and gave me an opportunity to get to know this attractive native. I’d used it as a teenager for its astringent benefits while battling hormonal oily skin outbreaks, now I can benefit from enjoying the display of her sweet blossoms and then later make decoction of the twigs which yields the skin toning liquid. Native Americans produced witch hazel extract by boiling the stems of the shrub which was used to treat swellings, inflammations and tumors. Skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema can be treated with Witch Hazel, it can soothe both the visible symptoms and the discomfort associated with them. Keep it on hand as a good option for a case of sunburn or to relieve the itching and swelling associated with exposure to Poison Ivy.
How to make your own decoction?
Combine 1 tablespoon witch hazel bark to 1 cup distilled water in a quart saucepan. Soak witch hazel bark in water for ½ hour, and then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, covered, for 10-minutes. Remove from heat, let steep for another 10-minutes. Strain when cool and bottle. It is a good practice to always label and date your preparations.