March 3, 2008

Witch Hazel and photos from the farm

When I was strolling around the farm the other day, I noticed that my witch hazel shrubs were blooming.  This is always great news because it means that spring is soon to arrive.  I'm happy to share these photos with you and also a bit of interesting information about amazing witch hazel.

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Witch hazel is a small tree or shrub, native to Atlantic North America. It produces tight clusters of fragrant, spidery, usually yellow flowers during the winter months. Its name has nothing to do with witches, but rather comes from the old English word, w-y-c-h, meaning flexible. Native Americans used the pliable branches to make bows for hunting. When Colonists began to settle, those same forked branches became favorite witching sticks of dowsers, who used them to search for hidden water.

 

But soon the Colonists learned that the plant had other useful qualities, as the Native Americans had long known. Witch hazel is a very versatile remedy that reduces swelling and inflammation, most likely due to the tannins and flavonoids it contains. The leaves, twigs, and bark were made into poultices to treat all sorts of skin ailments and muscular pains. The leaves were also brewed as tea, which was then sipped to relieve many internal disorders. Eventually, witch hazel manufacturing plants were established, producing bottled witch hazel extract, which is still widely used today. It can be found in deodorants, soaps, ointments, lotions, and cloth wipes. It’s an old-fashioned remedy, but when applied to the skin, bottled witch hazel is still soothing, cleansing, and refreshing. Why don’t you try some today?

 

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