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The bark, leaves, and twigs of the witch hazel shrub were widely used as medicinal treatments by native peoples of North America. Witch hazel was applied topically as a treatment for such conditions as skin wounds, insect bites, hemorrhoids, muscle aches, and back stiffness, and it was taken internally for colds, coughs, and digestive problems. It came into use among European colonists in the 1840s, when a businessman named Theron Pond marketed an extract of witch hazel under the name “Golden Treasure.”
The most common witch hazel product available in the U.S. is made from the whole twigs of the shrub. Extracts of the bark alone are used in Europe.
Witch hazel preparations should be used according to label instructions.