Hamamelidis Cortex. Br. Hamamelis Bark.

Botanical name: 

[Witchhazel Bark]

Related entry: Hamamelis Leaf

"Hamamelis Bark is the dried bark of Hamamelis virginiana, Linn." Br.

Hamamelidis Cortex, U. S. VIII, Witchhazel. Spotted Hazel, Snapping Hazel, Winterbloom; Ecorce de Hamamelis, Fr. Cod.: Hamamelis, Zauberhasel, G.: Hamamelis, Sp.

This bark was deleted from the U. S. P. IX, but retained by the British Pharm., 1914. The U. S. P. VIII definition was as follows: "The bark and twigs of Hamamelis virginiana Linne (Fam. Hamameliadaceae)."

Witchhazel is an indigenous shrub, from five to fifteen feet high, growing in almost all sections of the United States, usually on hills or in stony places, and often on the banks of streams. It is the only species of the genus found in Eastern North America, occurring from New Brunswick to Minnesota and southward to Florida and Texas. Schneider asserts that it has been introduced into California and that it is extensively cultivated in this locality. It is specifically characterized by its leaves being obovate or oval, wavy-toothed, and somewhat downy when young. The seeds are black and shining externally, white, oily, and farinaceous within, and edible like the hazelnut. It is remarkable for the late appearance of its yellow flowers, which expand in September or October, and continue until the weather becomes very cold in winter. The fruit, which is a nut-like capsule not unlike the hazelnut, ripens in the following summer, and is often mingled on the same plant with the new blossoms.

Properties.—The bark occurs "in curved or channelled pieces about one and a half millimetres thick, and from one-half to two decimetres long, sometimes covered with a silvery-grey or dark-grey scaly cork marked with transverse lenticels, but frequently freed from the cork, and then exhibiting a nearly smooth reddish-brown outer surface. Inner surface pale reddish-pink, and finely striated longitudinally; fracture laminated and coarsely fibrous. In transverse section, a cortex containing prismatic crystals of calcium oxalate, a complete ring of sclerenchymatous cells, and numerous tangentially elongated groups of bast fibres. No marked odor; taste astringent." Br.

The twigs are "flexible and tough, of irregular length, not more than 6 Mm. in diameter, branching, or bearing nodes at intervals of 2 to 5 Cm.; externally varying from yellowish-brown to deep purplish-brown, lightly longitudinally wrinkled, and having scattered small circular whitish or pale lenticels; bark occupying about one-fifth of the radius; wood greenish-white, lightly radiate, and exhibiting one to three annual. rings; pith centric, small." U. S. VIII.

Holm (Merck's Rep., xxi, p. 5) has written an illustrated paper on the morphology of hamamelis.

Walter B. Cheney examined witchhazel bark, and found tannin, resin, extractive, but no indication of an alkaloid or other crystalline principle. (A. J. P., 1886, p. 418.) It contains a trace of volatile oil, however. John Marshall, of the University of Pennsylvania, also found that hamamelis root contains tannic acid and a trace of volatile oil, but no other active substance. (T. G; ii, 295.)

Uses.—The bark of the witchhazel is said to have first attracted attention on account of its use by the North American Indians as a sedative application to external inflammations. It was many years ago recommended by James Fountain and N. S. Davis (N. Y. M. J., x, 208; Trans. Amer. Med. Assoc., i, 350) in hemorrhage of the lungs and stomach. Professional attention was strongly directed to the remedy on account of the enormous sale of a much vaunted proprietary remedy said to be made by distilling the bark with very dilute alcohol (six per cent.), and used externally for sprains and bruises, and internally for most of the diseases to which flesh is heir. The pecuniary success of this remedy probably depended in very small part upon the virtues of the witchhazel, which seems to possess no active physiological properties. At least we have injected a very concentrated distillate in large quantities into frogs and into mammals without perceiving any more effects than would be produced by the injection of similar quantities of distilled water, and Guy, in Paris, has reached similar conclusions. This preparation has been so largely used that it has been widely replaced by a similar preparation officially known as Aqua Hamamelidis, which see. The fluidextract of the drug is a mild astringent and has been especially recommended in varicose veins and hemorrhoids. The dose of the fluidextract given ordinarily is a teaspoonful (3.75 mils) four times a day. It may, however, be given in double the quantity with impunity and probably in such doses is an advantageous astringent.

Dose, of leaves or of bark, thirty grains (2 Gm.).

Off. Prep.—Aqua Hamamelidis, U. S.; Tinctura Hamamelidis, Br.

Hamamelidis Folia. Br.

Hamamelis Leaves [Hamamelis, U. S. 1890 Witchhazel Leaves]

"Hamamelis Leaves are the fresh or dried leaves of Hamamelis virginiana, Linn." Br. "The dried leaves of Hamamelis virginiana Linne (Fam. Hamamelidaceae), collected in autumn before the flowering of the plants, and without the presence of more than 10 per cent. of stems or other foreign matter." N. F.

Hamamelidis Folia, N. F.; Feuilles de Hamamelis, Fr. Cod.; Witchhazel, Witch Hazel Leaves.

These leaves were deleted from the U. S. P. IX, but were retained in the British Pharm., 1914, and National Formulary IV.

The National Formulary IV added the following to the U. S. P. VIII definition: "Before the flowering of the plants and without the presence of more than 10 per cent. of stems or other foreign matter."

The British Pharm., 1914, describes the leaves as follows: "Broadly oval in outline, from seven to fifteen centimeters long. Upper surface dark green or brownish-green, under surface paler; apex obtuse, margin sinuate; narrowed towards the base, oblique, slightly cordate, and shortly petiolate. Veins pinnate and prominent on the under surface, where they are furnished with stellate hairs. No marked odor; taste astringent and slightly bitter." Br.

The N. F. IV description is as follows: "Petioles from 1 to 1.5 cm. in length; laminae when entire broadly elliptical or rhomboid-ovate, usually inequilateral, mostly from 8 to 12 cm. in length; summits usually acute, sometimes rounded or acuminate; bases slightly heart-shaped and oblique; margins sinuate or sinuate-dentate; upper surfaces pale or brownish-green, occasionally dark brown with a few stiff, straight hairs; lower surfaces lighter in color, somewhat hairy, midrib and veins prominent. Odor slight; taste astringent, slightly aromatic and bitter. Transverse sections show in addition to the epidermal layers, a palisade layer consisting of a single row of cells and a dorsal pneumatic tissue made up of three to six rows of strongly branching cells; large collateral, fibro-vascular bundles occur in the midrib and petiole, the tracheae narrow, mostly spiral and associated with numerous narrow, strongly lignified and porous wood fibers; around the phloem occurs a nearly continuous circle of bast fibers, possessing strongly lignified walls; calcium oxalate in mono-clinic prisms, from 0.01 to 0.035 mm. in diameter, either in the cells of the mesophyll or in crystal fibers associated with the bast fibers. Under the microscope, surface sections of Hamamelis Leaves show upon the lower surface narrow elliptical stomata, about 0.015 mm. in length and with two to four neighboring cells; from both surfaces, but especially from the under surface, arise stellate hairs composed of from four to twelve cells united at the base, the individual cells being from 0.02 to 0.075 mm. in length, either straight or more or less bent and with very thick walls and narrow lumina, the latter sometimes only apparent in the lower portion of the cells. Hamamelis Leaves yield not more than 6 per cent. of ash." N. F.

The microscopical characteristics of the hamamelis leaves have been described by Hans Kramer in B. P. G., xvii, p. 323.

See Hamamelidis Cortex.

Off. Prep.—Fluidextractum Hamamelidis Foliorum, N. F. (Br.); Liquor Hamamelidis, Br.; Unguentum Hamamelidis (from Liquid Extract), Br.

The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.