Hamamelis water – ESCOP Herbal Monograph 2012

Hamamelidis aqua
Published 2012
Price:   €20
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The herbal monograph selects and summarises scientific studies and textbooks regarding efficacy, dosage and safety to support the therapeutic uses of hamamelis water, also named hamamelis distillate. This herbal drug by definition consists of a clear colourless distillate prepared from recently cut and partially dried dormant twigs of Hamamelis virginiana L. A common name for hamamelis is Witch hazel. Studies with its main characteristic constituents the volatile fraction, containing alkanes, terpenes and phenylpropanoids are included. The therapeutic indications are treatment of bruises, skin irritations, sunburn, insect bites, external haemorrhoids and minor inflammatory conditions of the skin and mucosa. Administration of hamamelis water addresses posology; its duration of use; contra-indications; special warnings; special precautions for use; interactions with other medicinal products; other forms of interaction; in pregnancy and lactation; its effects on ability to drive; undesirable effects; overdose. In vitro experiments with hamamelis water demonstrate antibacterial activities. Several pharmacological studies in humans concern its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities. These studies, with hamamelis water administered as a topical preparation, demonstrated its use and improved the symptoms in UV-induced erythema. Controlled clinical studies applying ointments containing hamamelis water, demonstrated its use in dermatological conditions in patients suffering from eczema, dry skin and skin or diaper dermatitis. Preclinical safety data were assessed in a toxicity study. Safety data were assessed in human studies. No allergic or other intolerance reactions were observed. The selection of literature cited in the monograph is aimed at bringing together relevant information about the possible physiological roles of hamamelis water and its major constituents. Examples are given below.


  • Hamamelis virginiana L.
  • Hamamelidis aqua
  • Hamamelis Water; Witch hazel water
  • Bruises; Skin irritations; Sunburn; Insect bites; Haemorrhoids external


– Engel R, Gutmann M, Hartisch C, Kolodziej H, Nahrstedt A. Study on the composition of the volatile fraction of Hamamelis virginiana. Planta Med 1998;64:251-8.
– Gloor M, Reichling J, Wasik B, Holzgang HE. Antiseptic effect of a topical dermatological formulation that contains Hamamelis distillate and urea. Forsch Komplementarmed 2002;9:153:9.
– Hughes-Formella BJ, Filbry A, Grassmueller J, Rippke F. anti-inflammatory efficacy of topical preparations with 10 % hamamelis distillate in a UV erythema test. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2002;15:125-32.
– Korting HC, Schäfer-Korting M, Hart H, Laux P, Schmid M. Anti-inflammatory activity of hamamelis distillate applied topically to the skin. Influence of vehicle and dose. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1993;44:315-8.
– Sorkin B. Hametum Salbe, eine kortikoidfreie anti-inflammatorische Salbe. Phys Med Rehab 1980;21:53-7.
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