Hamamelis Virginica. (Witch-Hazel.)
I prefer a distilled extract of the fresh leaves to any other preparation. That known to the trade as "Pond's Extract" is employed by most physicians who make use of the remedy. The ordinary fluid extract may be used as a topical application, as a gargle for the throat, and for the general purposes of an astringent.
Where the Witch Hazel can be readily obtained, I would advise that the leaves be gathered in June or July, and if no apparatus for distilling is at hand, that they be packed in a percolator, and a tincture prepared with a very weak spirit, say 30°.
I might say in this connection, that when I specify the strength of Alcohol by degrees, I have no reference to an imaginary standard of proof, but the figures represent the number of parts in one hundred.
The Hamamelis has a specific action upon the venous system, giving strength to it, and facilitating the passage of venous blood. It may, therefore, be employed with advantage in any case where a part is enfeebled, and there is a sluggish circulation. Thus we use it in cases of catarrh and ozoena; chronic pharyngitis, disease of the tonsils, pillars of the fauces, vellum and uvula, and in chronic laryngitis. The indications for its employment are, thickening of mucous membranes, with enfeebled circulation, and increased secretion., either mucous or muco-purulent.
It is especially a valuable remedy in the treatment of hemorrhoids, sometimes effecting a cure in old and very stubborn cases without the use of other remedies. Usually, however, I use the solution of the Persulphate of Iron as a local application.
It is also a very useful remedy in the treatment of diseases of the uterus and vagina. Given, a case with the conditions named, thickening, with relaxation, enfeebled circulation, and increased mucous, or muco-purulent secretion, and its action is very positive.
We employ it also in the treatment of various lesions of the lower extremities, both as a local application and an internal remedy, and many times with excellent results.
It is an excellent dressing for erysipelas, and for burns, giving that slight stimulation that seems to be required in these cases.
I need not name other cases, as the indications for its use first given, will suggest its application. I value the remedy very highly, and feel confident that a trial in the cases named will bring it into general use.