Monographs of the British Pharmacopoeia 1958
Witch Hazel

Compiled by Ivor Hughes.

Editors note : In line with most national pharmacopoeias on a global basis the BP formulae contain substances which have subsequently been proven to be carcinogenic e.g. chloroform water and of course the Industrial Methylated Spirit is also a known nerve toxin, as are many of the other scientific solvents used for extraction purposes.

Your attention is drawn to Module 8 of the Pharmageddon Herbal with respect to the routes of administration and the solvents used for extraction.


HAMAMELIS - Hamamelidis Folia - Hamam.

Hamamelis Leaves Witch Hazel Leaves Hamamelis consists of the dried leaves of Hamamelis virginiana L.

Description. Odour, not marked; taste, astringent and slightly bitter.

Macroscopical. Dark, brownish-green to green; mostly from 7 to 15 cm. long, broadly oval to rhomboidal-ovate, shortly petiolate; lamina, with a sinuate-crenate margin and acute apex, asymmetrically cordate at the base; venation, pinnate, veins prominent on the abaxial surface, the lateral veins nearly straight, each terminating in the apex of a marginal crenation; bearing scattered stellate trichomes which are abundant on young leaves.

Microscopical. Trichomes on the abaxial epidermis, unicellular, single or usually in stellate clusters of up to about ten, more abundant on young leaves. Epidermis with markedly sinuous anticlinal cell walls; paracytic stomata in the abaxial surface. Mesophyll with one layer of palisade cells, occasional vertical lignified idioblasts, infrequent cluster crystals and many tannin cells. Midrib with a circular or horseshoe-shaped vascular section becoming simpler towards the leaf apex, sclerenchymatous pericycle and a bundle sheath which contains numerous single prisms of calcium oxalate which are also present in the bundle sheaths of the smaller veins.

Alcohol (45 per cent)-soluble extractive. Not less than 20 per cent.

Foreign organic matter. Not more than 2-0 per cent.

Stems. Not more than 3-0 per cent.

POWDERED HAMAMELIS (Hamamelidis Pulvis)

Description. Dull green. Diagnostic structures: epidermis with sinuous cell walls; paracytic stomata; covering trichomes singly or in stellate clusters, no glandular trichomes; mesophyll with one layer of palisade cells and occasional lignified idioblasts; vessels, spiral and annular; calcium oxalate usually in single prisms, infrequently in cluster crystals; many cells with brown contents which are coloured black by ferric chloride test-solution.

Alcohol (45 per cent)-soluble extractive;

Foreign organic matter. Complies with the requirements for Alcohol (45 per cent)-soluble extractive and Foreign organic matter stated under Hamamelis.


Hamamelis Liquid Extract, see below. Hamamelis Ointment, see below.


Hamamelis, in moderately coarse powder, 1000 g.

Alcohol (45 per cent), sufficient to produce 1000 ml.

Exhaust the Hamamelis by percolation with Alcohol (45 per cent), reserving the first 850 ml. of the percolate; remove the alcohol from the remainder of the percolate and evaporate the residue to a soft extract. Dissolve this in the reserved portion and add sufficient Alcohol (45 per cent) to produce 1000 ml. Allow to stand for not less than twelve hours; filter.

Alcohol content. 32 to 40 per cent v/v.

Total solids. 18 to 25 per cent w/v.

Preparation. Hamamelis Ointment, see below.

HAMAMELIS OINTMENT. Unguentum Hamamelidis Hamam.
Oint. Ung. Hamam.

Hamamelis Liquid Extract .. 10 ml.
Wool Fat                          .. 50 g.
Yellow Soft Paraffin          .. 40 g.
Mix in a warm mortar.

In making Hamamelis Ointment the Hamamelis Liquid Extract may be replaced by a Hamamelis liquid extract prepared with Industrial Methylated Spirit suitably diluted, provided that the law and the statutory regulations governing the use of Industrial Methylated Spirit are observed.

Storage. Hamamelis Ointment should be kept in a well-closed container and stored in a cool place.